JUNE 29, 2010 10:49PM

2010.24 At Home In Japan

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At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman’s Journey of Discovery. Rebecca Otowa. Tuttle Publishing,  2010.

Rebecca Otowa married a Japanese man in 1982, and has lived the life of a Japanese wife for nearly thirty years.  It seems to have been a happy life. although some details jar.  (Her own family was not invited to her wedding.  Page 106.) This is her meditation on Japan, on being an expatriate, on nature, on being an outsider in a group-based culture.

Speaking about the old ladies in the vegetable patch, with whom she has the closest connection, outside of her immediate family:  “These old aunties have seen a lot in their day – war, depression, upheaval, shortages and modernization.  Perhaps most poignantly, they have seen society itself shift paradigms, so that they lost out twice: when they were young, age was respected and youth wasn’t important; not that they are old, age is pushed aside in favor of the  young.”   (Page 48.)

When contemplating Shinto beliefs:   “The longer I live here, the more I feel that everything around me is in some measure sacred.  How can God, whoever or whatever that is, be present in some things and not in others? And if God is in everything, is God in me as well? The main alter of a Shinto shrine suggests the possibility – the central decoration is a mirror, in which I can see the divine in myself.” (Page 76.)

Highly recommended.

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