Lost Japan by Alex Kerr
(Lonely Planet Publications, Australia: 1996)
First published in Japanese in 1993 as Utsukushiki Nippon no Zanzo (Shincho-sha, Tokyo). Translated by the author Alex Kerr in 1996 for the Lonely Planet Journeys series.
READ: November 2006
Along with Alan Booth's books, Lost Japan is lauded pretty much everywhere as one of the best books ever written about Japan.
I agree. I couldn't put it down.
My recommendation: Read this book.
There's really not much more I can say. It's just a wonderful book. Even for those who are not Japanophiles, this book can be appreciated on many levels. Yes, it is about Japan and the Japanese, and was written by a man who has lived most of his adult life in Japan. A memoir of sorts, it is a story about looking for beauty, a beauty whichi happens to exist in Japan but is rapidly disappearing as Japan continues stumbling blindly forward to the future.
As a side-note, this book was originally written in Japanese, and Alex Kerr was the first foreigner to win the prestigious Shincho Gakugei Literary Prize of Japan in 1994 for it.