From Steve Beimel: I interviewed Pico Iyer in 1993 about his book, The Lady and the Monk, for first issue my former publication, The Kyoto Diary. He had been living for a short while in Japan at that time, and we discussed many aspects of his book and Japan in general. Now, 26 years later, Phillip Lopate’s article appears in the New York Times.
The attraction of Anglo-American writers to Japan as the source of an alternate way of being is a long story, going back to the 19th century (Lafcadio Hearn), through that wonderful set of mid-20th-century translators and critics (Donald Keene, Donald Richie, Edward Seidensticker, Ivan Morris), down to a recent sowing-of-wild-oats memoir by Ian Buruma. Pico Iyer — globe-trotting journalist, memoirist and travel writer extraordinaire — first became enamored with Japan when he was 26.