At Home in Japan tells the true story of a foreign woman who has been, for 30 years, the housewife, custodian and chatelaine of a 350-year-old farmhouse in rural Japan. This astonishing book traces a circular path, from the basic physical details of life in the house and village, through relationships with family, neighbors and the natural and supernatural entities with whom the family shares the house. Rebecca Otowa then focuses on her inner life, touching on some of the pivotal memories of her time in Japan, the lessons in
perception that Japan has taught her and, finally, the ways in which she has been changed by living in Japan.
An insightful and compelling read, At Home in Japan is a beautifully written and illustrated reminiscence of a simple life made extraordinary.
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Rebecca Otowa has lived in Japan for thirty years, leaving her California home in 1967, and her adopted home of Brisbane, Australia in 1978, to strike out in this new life direction. She and her husband Toshiro live in a rural area near Kyoto, in a farmhouse that has been in her husband's family since it was built in the 1600s. This is her first book.From Publishers Weekly:
For almost three decades I have been the housewife, custodian, and chatelaine of a 350-year-old farmhouse in rural Japan, writes Otowa in her informative and delightfully illustrated memoir. In 1978, American-born Otowa came to Japan as a university student, filled with an exaggerated confidence in my paltry store of knowledge, undercut with a pervading suspicion that I didn't know as much as I thought I did. Four years later she married into a traditional Japanese family. The short but engaging chapters (none is longer than four pages) explore one aspect of her adopted life. But like any good essayist, Otowa wanders into wider country. In Comfort, she recounts the snuggly family comforts obtained from the continued use of the traditional kotatsu, a low table with a blanket or quilt spread over it and a heating device inside. In Sweets, she delves into the complex obligations attached to the painstakingly shaped, delicately colored, beautifully presented and ritually consumed edible forms. And in Bamboo, Otowa reveals the special spot, exotic as a unicorn, and as common as mud, the plant holds in her heart. Filled with personal insights garnered from years spent learning to fit into a radically different culture, Otowa gently illuminates what it means to discover your identity in a foreign land. (May)
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