Saturday, February 27, 2010

Seeing Japan with Lowell Thomas

You might have noticed the cover of the Seeing Japan with Lowell Thomas book in my Gifts post last month. It was an especially thoughtful Christmas gift from an aunt and uncle. They found it for us in an antique store, and it appears that it was a Christmas gift in its first lifetime too, as there is a yellowed piece of tissue paper between the pages that reads, "Merry Christmas Gordon - From Eric and Shirley." I love it when used books have little glimpses of previous owners! The book also has this little airplane cutout stuck in it - it has been there for such a long time that it has stained a 'shadow' of the plane onto the pages.


The book was published in 1937, and it made for a really fascinating read, as a lot about life here has changed, but a lot is still very much the same. One thing that has apparently changed is the location of Nagoya...

(Kidding. The map is just incorrect in a couple of spots.)

There are a number of interesting passages, too many to share, but one of my favorites referenced torii, the gates you see at the entrance to a Shinto shrine (although you sometimes see them at Buddhist temples too). According to Wikipedia the true origins of the torii are unknown, and although there are a number of theories, none of them have been universally accepted. The kanji characters for these gates literally mean "bird perch," and as a bird lover, I love the explanation in the book, that torii "were originally perches for song birds where they might sing for the gods at sunrise" [p26].

3 comments:

K and S said...

sounds like a great book!

Linny said...

It was a really fun read. I recommend picking it up if you ever come across it!

K and S said...

thanks linny, will do :)