The Inland Sea

by Donald Richie

Paper Book, 1971




New York : Weatherhill, 1971.


"Earns its place on the very short shelf of books on Japan that are of permanent value."--Times Literary Supplement. "Richie is a stupendous travel writer; the book shines with bright witticisms, deft characterizations of fisherfolk, merchants, monks and wistful adolescents, and keen comparisons of Japanes and Western culture." --San Francisco Chronicle "A learned, beautifully paced elegy."--London Review of Books Sheltered between Japan's major islands lies the Inland Sea, a place modernity passed by. In this classic travel memoir, Donald Richie embarks on a quest to find Japan's timeless heart among its mysterious waters and forgotten islands. This edition features an introduction by Pico Iyer, photographs from the award-winning PBS documentary, and a new afterword. First published in 1971, The Inland Sea is a lucid, tender voyage of discovery and self-revelation. Donald Richie is the foremost authority on Japanese culture and cinema with 40+ books in print.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member shawjonathan
According to its cover blurb, this has been 'long considered a masterpiece of travel writing' and its author is 'an internationally recognized expert on Japanese culture and film'. Both those claims may well be sound, and some parts of the book are wonderful -- charming and illuminating anecdotes abound, and I loved the final section, in which he shares the experience of a visit to the shrine at Miyajima with a small Japanese boy and his grandmother. But for my taste there's too much information about the author's sex life (and even more implied), justified towards the end of the book on the grounds that 'there are few better ways of learning the language, of taking the temperature of the land, of measuring the inner state of its inhabitants' than sexual encounters. Sex tourism, anyone? There's also far too much derisory pontification about what goes on in the minds of 'the Japanese'. One relatively non-noxious example: 'All of these girls [who buy particular objects] are virginal, all of them are as pretty as flowers, and all of them have vegetable intelligences.' His observations on Japanese culture may have a lot going for them, and my visit to the Inland Sea was the richer for having read his account of visiting it more than 30 years earlier (an awful lot has changed!), but his fascination with matters sexual and his essentialising of 'the Japanese' are both sufficiently dominant to undermine my willingness to trust him.… (more)



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