RETURN TO JAPAN by Elizabeth Gray Vining
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RETURN TO JAPAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

That unusual lady who became tutor to Prince Akihito and came home to tell us about it in Windows for the Crown Prince here shares with her following another journey to Japan. Returning in 1957 to attend an international P.E.N. conference, she was touched by the discovery that funds had been raised to entertain the group by a radio appeal to the people. Her sojourn gave rise to many memories, from a dangerous ride down Nagara River rapids after dark to the different excitement of participation in the meditation of Zen monks. Mrs. Vining has a lovely way of moving with equal ease from the conversation of a moment with illustrious friends or simply pleasant people to absorption in the art of poetry or the telling of the tale behind The Tale of Genji (she finds affinities in the lady writers Murasaki Shikibu and Jane Austen). She talks of the delights of a Japanese inn, of cormorant fishing, of sea bream, and, yes, if not kings -- royalty indeed. There are moving portraits here of the late Empress Dowager, of the young Princess who married a farmer now intent upon providing Okayama City with a zoo (let it be admitted, his farm is out of the ordinary!) and seemed to Mrs. Viming like so many ambitious young American couples working hard on a life together. The climax of her varied and friendly discourse comes with the romance and marriage of her own dearly loved student -- and she is careful to share all her delight with the product of her pedagogy and his progress, with a discreet humility! The shadow of the Occupation past, this is a warm, in- touch testimony to one woman's flair for friendship and grace in stepping over many thresholds.

Publisher: Lippincott