First things first–I absolutely LOVE this book:
In “36 Views of Mount Fuji: On finding myself in Japan,” author Cathy Davidson reflects on her experiences living, teaching and traveling throughout Japan. Davidson absorbs the mysteries of a foreign culture and strives to understand its complexities. Her ability to immerse herself in Japanese language and customs while reconciling those traditions with personal emotion and perspective is reassuring for anyone preparing to live abroad.
Here are some of excerpts and images from Davidson’s memoir. The images come from a series of woodblock prints created by Katsushika Hokusai in the 17th century. Each image depicts a unique scene and perspective of Japan while also illustrating the unchanging presence of Mt. Fuji, a symbol of Japanese permanence.
“Being a foreigner, especially in a country where you are not fluent in the language, has an odd filtering effect. Ordinary, everyday language all around you becomes a kind of white noise, murmur without meaning, almost soothing in its inconsequentiality. When communication does occur, it seems to have more meaning (even when you can’t figure out exactly what’s going on).”
“One thing I’ve learned to love about Japan is its freedom from the classic Western notion that a person is a stable, unchanging, continuous entity, some essential self. In Japan, behavior and even personality depend partly on context, on the rules of a given situation.”
Lastly, did I mention that Cathy Davidson now lives in North Carolina? I think it’s a sign of good times ahead.