The Road Through Miyama

Leila Philip, Author, Backy Saleton, Editor Random House (NY) $17.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-394-57818-7
Unfamiliar even to many Japanese, the town of Miyama lies as an eddy of tradition and ritual out of the mainstream of Japanese society. The author, who teaches at Princeton, spent two years in Miyama apprenticed to one of the town's 12 potters. Although the technical descriptions of the potter's craft may cause readers' attention to wander, Philip's prose style is crisp when she discusses helping natives plant and harvest rice, the personalities of the villagers and the way the experience of living among them has altered the way she views life. She does not portray the town as locked in another era; even before she arrived, there were signs--omnipresent television and department-store clothing--of the incursion of Western culture. There is great pressure on the pottery factories themselves to turn out what Philip terms ``tourist schlock.'' But enough remains of this quiet, gentle and highly structured society to allow the author to create an affectionate appreciation. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-0-679-72501-5
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