Ken-ichi's Reviews > Rediscovering the Old Tokaido

Rediscovering the Old Tokaido by Patrick  Carey
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's review
Dec 26, 12

bookshelves: japan, history, to-read
Read from March 01 to 07, 2012

Featuring considerably less historical detail and analysis than I was expecting, this is a straight-up travelogue by a Brit who worries about blisters after two hours, but it's none the worse for it. Carey is a fun, goofy kind of guy to follow around, and he does drop the occasional historical nugget (e.g. there is a mountain in Japan called Fudesute, which means "thrown brushes", alluding to an incident in which the artist Kano Motonobu threw aside his brushes when he could not capture the beauty of the mountain).

The book suffers from what seems like a miserly publisher's foible: the Hiroshige prints and few accompanying modern photos are all on sequential pages, which quickly get out of sync with the text, forcing the reader to either flip back and forth or just ignore the contextual imagery. The prints are exquisite, and since Carey is trying to revisit the site of each one, he is constantly referring to them. No fault of the author, I'm sure, but frustrating all the same.

It's amazing how friendly the Japanese seem to be. As a Westerner who can speak Japanese I guess Carey is kind of a novelty, but it seemed amazing that people were constantly inviting him into their homes and offering him gifts. I doubt a Japanese professor wandering the American countryside would receive the same reception.

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