Temples, gardens and crafts feature in a beautifully illustrated transcription of Alex Kerr and Kathy Arlyn Sokol’s decade-long discussion about Kyoto’s history and design
This is a “spoken book”. For more than 10 years, Kerr and his collaborator, Sokol, recorded their conversations about Kyoto’s temples, gardens and crafts, eventually reducing the transcripts to these nine essays. The style is therefore informal, an “oral history of a zany sort”.
The chapters explore nine aspects of Kyoto’s history and design, from tatami mats to calligraphy
Having lived in Japan for most of his life and taught at a college of traditional arts in Kyoto, Kerr is the perfect guide to this country’s most historic city, described as a “treasure chest” of “ancient Asian wisdom”. The chapters explore nine aspects of Kyoto’s history and design, from the gates seen everywhere in the city and the soft tatami mats found in nearly every home, to a remarkable discussion of how the three styles of calligraphy (shin gyo so) reveal the Japanese worldview: “There is a philosophy in Japan, but it’s wordless.”
Filled with memorable insights into this most traditional of cultures, Kerr and Sokol’s book – beautifully illustrated by Tetsuji Fujihara – provides an excellent introduction to Kyoto. Note to the publisher: an index would be helpful.