Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan

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9780060577209: Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan

Learning to Bow has been heralded as one of the funniest, liveliest, and most insightful books ever written about the clash of cultures between America and Japan. With warmth and candor, Bruce Feiler recounts the year he spent as a teacher in a small rural town. Beginning with a ritual outdoor bath and culminating in an all-night trek to the top of Mt. Fuji, Feiler teaches his students about American culture, while they teach him everything from how to properly address an envelope to how to date a Japanese girl.

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About the Author:

Bruce Feiler is the author of six consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including Abraham, Where God Was Born, America's Prophet, The Council of Dads, and The Secrets of Happy Families. He is a columnist for the New York Times, a popular lecturer, and a frequent commentator on radio and television. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and twin daughters.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A young North American spends a year teaching in a rural Japanese school, where he watches day-to-day life with a delighted, observant eye. Feiler begins with a description of the ritual outdoor bath that all male teachers participate in at the start of the school year: ``We had not soaked long in the water before my presence began to attract a crowd...The other teachers cheered and splashed water in support. `He sure is tall,' said one man. `And his nose is high, too,' observed another. `He looks like a model.' '' The author then moves on to tell how his students spend hours learning to bow together, how teachers strictly separate their private and public lives (``Co-workers who were rude to one another in the bar would be civil the next day at work; men who had been open and relaxed in the bath would be formal and rigid when behind a desk''); how boys and girls learn gender roles at outdoor sports festivals; how young men and women struggle with changing courtship codes. He writes of Japan's emphasis on discipline and community spirit, of his students' often desperate desire to enter the Univ. of Tokyo, and of a young boy's suicide, caused largely by class prejudice. Meanwhile, in hilarious episodes, his Japanese hosts constantly marvel at his ability to use chopsticks and his ability to speak Japanese, but by the end of the school year, they pay him the highest compliment by saying that he is ``more Japanese than a Japanese.'' Feiler's first book (which, the publisher says, is the first book written by a Westerner who has taught in Japanese schools) is warm, intimate, and often very funny, bringing much-needed insight into Japanese grass-roots culture and the role of education in that land. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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