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Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 18:15 - 20:30


BB20170124 cover


Alex Kerr


Another Kyoto is a "spoken" rather than a written book. It came about as a collaboration between Kyoto-based journalist Kathy Arlyn Sokol and writer Alex Kerr. As Kathy and Alex walked through Kyoto, Alex would talk about his insights acquired over fifty years of living in Japan and "lore" learned from friends, monks, literati, and expats such as Donald Richie and legendary art dealer David Kidd. Kathy recorded and transcribed, Alex rewrote, and the book took shape.

Not a guidebook, Another Kyoto is a series of essays, starting with simple things like "Walls," or "Floors," and going on from these to show Kyoto in a new light. In the first chapter, Alex describes a visit to a famous temple. "But when we arrive," he writes, "what do we see? A gate. No temple in sight." This leads Alex to think about why temples must have gates, and which are the great gates of Kyoto. Another chapter begins, "Visitors at a Zen garden wonder, 'What could this mean?' The answer is on a plaque hanging over their heads." So Alex and Kathy take the time to read some of the calligraphic plaques in Zen temples – which even Japanese visitors rarely notice – and dive into a world of wit and philosophy.

In the process, as Kyoto Journal critic Preston Houser writes, "Kerr and Sokol have performed a minor miracle by presenting that which is present in Kyoto as that which we have yet to see. I know that I will never pass a wall, or tread a floor, or sit on tatami the same way again."

Alex Kerr came to Japan as a boy with his family in 1964. He studied Japanese Studies at Yale, then Chinese Studies as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, returning to live in Kyoto in 1977. His book Lost Japan (1993), written originally in Japanese, was the first by a foreigner to win the Shincho Literary Prize. Subsequent books include Dogs and Demons (2001) and Nippon Keikanron (ニッポン景観論) (Theory of Japanese Landscape) (2014). Alex has an extensive background in traditional arts (Kabuki, Shinto ritual, calligraphy, art collection, etc.), and is today active in restoring old houses around Japan. He consults and lectures widely across Japan on issues of sustainable tourism, landscaping, and regional revival.

The library committee is offering a cocktail party–"Meet the Author"–starting at 6:15 pm, followed by dinner at 6:45 pm (Menu: Sautéed Salmon with Tomato Sauce). Drinks can be ordered on a cash basis from the bar in the room. Book Break charges are 2,100yen/3,500yen (members/non-members) per person. The member price is applicable to members' guests.

To FCCJ members: Sign up now at the reception desk (03-3211-3161) or on the FCCJ website. To help us plan proper seating and food preparation, please reserve in advance, preferably by noon of the day of the event. Those without reservations will be turned away once available seats are filled. Reservations cancelled less than 24 hours in advance will be charged in full.

To non-members: Sign up now at the reception desk (03-3211-3161) or by mail (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). Please reserve and pay in advance by Friday, January 20Those without reservations will be turned away once available seats are filled. No refund is available unless the event is cancelled for the reasons on our part.

(The talk will be in English)



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