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Donald Richie led me to this delightful comic novel by Thomas Raucat that ends with a surprise, a surprise that’s shocking. It’s the story of an outing for a not so dignified foreign guest whose attempt at seduction of a Japanese beauty goes awry as his Japanese associates, hotel manager, train station manager and a geisha all offer him hospitality and try to read his mind. Each chapter has a different narrator whose perceptions and misperceptions delight or baffle readers depending on how well you know Japanese culture.

It’s a funny glimpse into the insights of people who try to understand each other and never will.

The Japanese have become more international in their worldview, but as a Japanophile who lived in Nara for 3 years, I believe this was an accurate snapshot of Japan around the 1920s.

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