Since the summer of 1979 when Todd Jay Leonard first visited Japan as a summer exchange student, he has had an on going relationship with this fascinating country and its people.
Writing from the perspective of someone living and working in Japan, he delivers a firsthand account of daily Japanese life through this collection of short essays written in the style of personal letters. Each composition offers commentary on a wide range of topics and issues including the culture, history, education, language, society, and religion of modern Japan.
How do Japanese people celebrate holidays? What are the educational and political systems like? What types of festivals are there in Japan? What are some of the customs and traditions of the the Japanese people?
An Indiana Hoosier in Lord Tsugaru's Court answers these and many other questions through engaging and humorous illustrations that transport the reader to modern Japan. The author's friendly, down-to-earth (yet authoritative) style is informative and educational allowing anyone who has an interest in learning about Japan and its people to enjoy its subject matter.
There are few things in life as satisfying and luxurious as a traditional Japanese bath. Over the millennia, Japan and its people have truly perfected bath-taking--elevating a mundane process of daily hygiene into a veritable art form, one that is steeped in ritual and, in my opinion, could be regarded as a precious and treasured cultural asset of Japan. Many first-time visitors to Japan are a tad apprehensive about two aspects of taking a Japanese bath: 1) entering bath water that has been used by someone else; and 2) bathing with strangers in communal or public baths. Admittedly, on my first visit to Japan as a 17-year-old high school exchange student I, too, was not very keen about baring it all with a group of strangers, or getting in a tub after several people had already used it. However, after just one time, I was hooked. All apprehensions were cast aside, and I am now a big fan of all types of tradtional Japanese baths: the home bath, communal or public bath, and hot spring baths (known as "onsen" in Japanese). It is necesssary to keep in mind that the Japanese bathtub is not used in the same way people use a bathtub in most other countries. The Japanese bathtub is used only for soaking and washing. The water is clean and steamy hot--so blistering sometimes that it seems like it is going to scald your skin. So, in reality, one is not really bathing in the true sense of the word, meaning splashing about in soapy, dirty water as is the custom in the West. The Japanese bathtub is used only for soaking and relaxing, similar to a hot tub's intended use, except without swimming trunks and massaging bubbles. I tend to be much more apprehensive about getting into a hot tub than I am about entering a Japanese bath because before entering the actual bathtub, proper Japanese etiquette obliges the bather to first thoroughly soap, scrub, and rinse off the body before setting foot into the hot water. Most people enter a hot tub without bathing, knowing that so much chlorine is in the water that, like a pool, a shower afterward is needed.
Todd Jay Leonard has had a relationship with Japan for over thirty years. He has written twenty books and numerous academic articles in the areas of cross-cultural understanding, history, language education, religion and spirituality. Originally from Indiana, USA, he now calls Hirosaki, Japan home where he lives, writes and teaches.