Pico Iyer JourneysThe Outer World - Japan - A  A +

Living Among Incompatibles

I walked into the center of old Kyoto not long ago and found myself in a scene from a Hiroshige painting. Huge floats containing ancestral treasures stood on the narrow lanes at the heart of the ancient capital, while rows •••


What I Love About Kyoto

What I love about Kyoto is the night. Almost every visitor to the ancient Japanese capital, home of geisha and tea-ceremonies and kimono and 2000 temples–is shocked by the first view, as she steps out of Kyoto’s ultra-modern train station, •••


Our Lady of Lawson

To live in Japan without eating Japanese food seems an advanced kind of heresy. My sushi-loving friends in California regard me as a lost cause; my housemates in Japan simply shrug and see this as ultimate confirmation — me dragging •••


The Fan in Japan

The Japan we imagine from afar is placid, tidy and seamlessly efficient, correct to the last place. The trains arrive on the dot, and when the crowds pour out of them, in streamlined rows of look-alike Chanel and grey suits, •••


A Call Through the Mist

The foreigner in Japan, more than anywhere, stands at the edge of an intimacy that is closing slowly in his face. He walks along a beach, perhaps, as darkness falls, with a young, a beautiful girl, and they talk of •••


King of Infinite Space

When you step into a classic ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, you step into decades, perhaps centuries, of silence. I was reminded of this as soon as I returned, not long ago, to Tawaraya, a nineteen-room inn that sits on •••