In 1980 Cathy N. Davidson traveled to Japan to teach English at a leading all-women’s university. It was the first of many journeys and the beginning of a deep and abiding fascination. In this extraordinary book, Davidson depicts a series of intimate moments and small epiphanies that together make up a panoramic view of Japan. With wit, candor, and a lover’s keen eye, she tells captivating stories - from that of a Buddhist funeral laden with ritual to an exhilarating evening spent touring the “Floating World,” the sensual demimonde in which salaryman meets geisha and the normal rules are suspended. On a remote island inhabited by one of the last matriarchal societies in the world, a disconcertingly down-to-earth priestess leads her to the heart of a sacred grove. And she spends a few unforgettable weeks in a quasi-Victorian residence called the Practice House, where, until recently, Japanese women were taught American customs so that they would make proper wives for husbands who might be stationed abroad. In an afterword new to this edition, Davidson tells of a poignant trip back to Japan in 2005 to visit friends who had remade their lives after the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, which had devastated the city of Kobe, as well as the small town where Davidson had lived and the university where she taught.
36 Views of Mount Fuji not only transforms our image of Japan, it offers a stirring look at the very nature of culture and identity. Often funny, sometimes liltingly sad, it is as intimate and irresistible as a long-awaited letter from a good friend.
©2006 Cathy Davidson (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Lewesman on 04-04-15

Remarkable insight, wonderful writing

I thoroughly enjoyed Cathy Davidson's thoughtful, moving and inspiring account of her time in Japan. It helped me understand Japanese culture and behavior better. Certainly it "only" contains 36 very personal Gaijin views of the country, from near and far, but each was fascinating and authentic. The reading was impeccable and I suspect the relevance to modern-day Japan remains, despite the passing of time since Cathy wrote this superb book.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Natalia on 16-02-17

Dated but still an interesting memoir.

Would you try another book written by Cathy Davidson or narrated by Alexandra Bailey?

It depends. Not something with Japanese words as the narrator's ridiculous over-emphasis (and sometimes wrong) pronunciation of Japanese words was off putting.

What other book might you compare 36 Views of Mount Fuji to, and why?

Just about every 'Westerner goes and lives in Japan and is surprised what they learn there' book of the past 30 years.

Did Alexandra Bailey do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

Yes. Though her comical accents were a bit much.

Could you see 36 Views of Mount Fuji being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

I hope not.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Kandice on 10-05-16

Loved everything about this book!

This was a wonderfully written story that kept my interest from the first page to the last. It gives a good insight into a foreigners experience in Japan and good information for people who go to Japan. Great reader! Thank you for this book!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Bookworm on 18-11-13

Fun book, insightful and informative

The book makes me want to visit Japan.

The book discusses the author's 10 visits to Japan and how her view of the country changes over time. Because of this book, I bought another one about Japanese culture.

She described how women and men are treated differently in Japan and how an added complication arises when the woman is an American and a professional. I felt sad for the salarymen and the endless studying for students. Her description of the island of Oki sounds wonderful - swimming around collecting glass balls used in fishing. This is in contrast with the Practice House - a house associated with a women's college where women students are taught how to behave in America. The only problem is that the Practice House is stuck in the 1960's, which matches the assumption that women's role in America is to cook, clean and make crafts.

I understand that an experience in a different country is individualistic. It is not fair to criticize the book because it doesn't match another person's experience. Just appreciate it for what it is - a retelling of events that happened to that person, at that time, in the place.
I enjoyed learning about the author's experience in Japan.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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