Destination: Kyoto

Pico Iyer: The Japanese ‘Have More Resolve and Fortitude Than Almost Anyone I’ve Seen’

Like everyone, I’ve been horrified by the news out of Japan following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant explosions. Among other things, I’ve been wondering how author and World Hum contributor Pico Iyer is doing, and whether he has been home in Japan or traveling as the disaster unfolds.

I just heard from him via email:

By curious chance, and with rare good timing, I actually flew out of Japan last Thursday night, hours before the earth began to move, and so I’m just sitting in placid Santa Barbara now, where nothing seems to move at all. But everyone I know in Japan sounds fine, and is going about her life as usual, for now at least a safe distance from all the horror.

He added:

Let’s hope the Japanese, who have more resolve and fortitude than almost anyone I’ve seen, can put their land together again very soon.

Let’s hope.

Labor Day (Japanese Style)

On an ethereal November day in Kyoto

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Kyoto Joins Tokyo Near the Top of the Michelin Heap

Kyoto Joins Tokyo Near the Top of the Michelin Heap Photo by rhosoi via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by rhosoi via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Brace yourselves, foodies of the Western hemisphere: If you were disgruntled about Tokyo landing top Michelin honors last year—receiving more stars than Paris and New York combined in its debut guide—then you probably won’t be happy to hear that Kyoto is following close behind. The city received 110 stars in its first-ever Michelin treatment, including six three-star restaurants—one more than New York City.

Living Among Incompatibles

Torii in Japan Photo by tiseb via Flickr, (Creative Commons)

Why Japan has the best mind Pico Iyer has encountered in a lifetime of traveling

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Morning Links: City Bans Apostrophes, Russians in Goa and More

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On Asia: Points East

On Asia: Points East iStockPhoto
Shibuya, Tokyo. iStockphoto.

If this is indeed the “Asian century,” count me as an early adopter. I’ve quit two full-time jobs to explore the world’s most diverse continent, and they were the two best decisions I’ve ever made. To an Asia hand, the lavender fields of Provence might be pleasant, but it’s the chanting of novice monks, the mystical tinkling of the gamelan, a bowl of spicy dan dan noodles that really get the blood pumping. I’m drawn back, again and again, and I don’t know if I’ll ever kick the habit.

My (unlikely) introduction to Asia began in arid, post-Soviet Uzbekistan in the late ‘90s. As soon as my conference in Tashkent wrapped up, I hopped a bus to the Silk Road city of Samarkand, where blue-tiled madrassas dazzled against an azure sky. They were like nothing I’d seen, a window into an ancient time when Tamerlane traipsed across the steppes.

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Japan Unmasked

Karin Muller's "Japanland: A Year in Search of Wa" chronicles the author's time in the Land of the Rising Sun. Terry Ward writes that it offers insight into the famously closed culture -- and a dose of humor.

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