Journalist and author Ina Strøm writes intimately, engagingly and with liberating honesty about her attempt to understand the Japanese and fit into a country that is so far removed from Norway in so many ways. Japan’s captivating history is elegantly interwoven into the text, whose action moves in parallel from south to north, and from ancient times to the present day.
A Dream of the East
A Japanese spring awakens a deeper interest for the many paradoxes of Japanese culture, and anything that stir under the cultural surface.The easy changes between Strøm´s own experiences as well as the facts she digs up from the past makes for an entertaining read.
Strøm places her self firmly in the middle: “I look at the Japanese and feel like a stranger. Then turn around and look at the tourists and feel almost equally strange.” She uses her self as the red thread on the journey, writing about the people she meets and the experiences that she makes, while reflecting on her own reactions. She allow her self to be both amazed and frustrated about the norms and prejudice, especially when it comes to the narrow expectations regarding family- and gender issues.
From the starting point on the tropical island Ishigaki - with her fingers in the dirt on a plantation owned by a widow with five boyfriends - until she lands in the north, looking for the native tribe Ainue, Strøm give us a rich portrayal of Japan with an abundance of smell and taste. She is a writer that takes it all in, that dare to be moved. The result is a fresh and original piece of travel literature.
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