by Geoffrey Bownas
ISBN 1905246013 (1-905246-01-3)
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Hardcover, BRILL/Global Oriental, 2005
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Book summary: Geoffrey Bownas, widely known over the last half century for his writings, translations, broadcasts and commentaries relating to Japan, and an eminent Japanese Studies scholar who pioneered teaching in this field at Oxford (1954) and Sheffield (1966), has at last completed a memoir. It is both a literary triumph and a compelling read not least for the many who have known him as well as a historical record of some significance tracking Japan's post-war history from abject poverty to unimaginable prosperity as the world's second largest economy, and the lost' post-bubble years. In particular, the author includes a detailed account of his association with Mishima Yukio while preparing the "Penguin New Writing" in Japan, his early years in Kyoto and his experience of living in Tenri City. He also offers a critical appraisal of the Japanese aesthetic, documents an extraordinary meeting with Honda Soichiro, and takes a nostalgic journey back to the writing of his many books on Japan, including "The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse" (with Anthony Thwaite), "Japanese Rainmaking and Other Folk Practices", and "Japan and the New Europe". Equally, his involvement and input at some of Japan's key turning points over the last fifty years make fascinating reading, such as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics when he was the BBC's interpreter, and more recently the New Kansai International Airport in the early 1990S as consultant to Watson Steel, a member of the AMEC Group.
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