Currently reading this new book by Pico Iyer about his Japan musings, a country worth visiting if you haven’t been. This book is a well-crafted meditation on life, death, and mindful perseverance. Japan is well-chronicled in my blog. It’s interesting to see how much commonality there is amongst foreigners who’ve lived there.
I’ve had the fortune to meet Pico and his wife Hiroko. Our journeys don’t run parallel although we like the same Indian restaurant in Kyoto. This book feels like a continuation of The Lady and the Monk which was a hit for me when I first touched down in Japan and began living that life. Yet, Autumn Light reads like a final farewell. The Japan I knew was urban, fast-moving, and chock full of workaholics and alcoholics ricocheting across Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to live in rural Japan where time stood still. Many expats like me envied those who made a living far from Tokyo and Osaka, especially creative types like Pico Iyer and Alex Kerr (another Japan-based writer).
Instead, the Japanese countryside became a temporary refuge for me. The ultimate test of reflection is writing in noisy surroundings. Tokyo nearly made that impossible back then. Instagram delivers an equivalent distraction today. Getting to the beautiful countryside during Autumn season offered plentiful shortcuts without putting ink onto paper.
I regret not writing while I lived in Japan. Pico continues to write 30 years after his sojourn into Japan. Time seemingly stands still, yet everything slowly falls away in this excerpt.