Pico Iyer is an essayist, a travel writer, and the author of many books, including one of my all-time favorites: "A Beginner's Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations." During our conversation, Pico talks about his journey to living in Japan, his observations from and insights into this very-foreign culture, and he speaks at length about the very-Japanese themes of subtraction, cosplay, traditional gender roles, baseball, wisdom, and more.
Japan, in many ways, exhibits the inverse of many of the more boorish, stereotypically American qualities: it is graceful, quiet, obedient, considerate, internal. I quote extensively from Pico's masterful book, and it was a joy to listen to the man himself go into deeper detail about the country he has called home for more than three decades.
Pico was born in Britain, and in a way that only an outsider can - and with his tremendous perceptiveness - he uncovers fascinating and enduring truths about one of the world's brilliantly weird and totally interesting civilizations. Japan is nearly 1,400 years old, and there is much to be learned from this rich, historic, and perplexing place.
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