Mari Fujimoto, Ikigai & Other Japanese Words to Live By (London: Modern Books), 2019

fujimoto ikigai
After our visit to Japan last year and the remarkable circumstances that mean we will return to Japan again this year, it makes sense that since we are unable to gain a command of the language in the time that we have, at least we should learn a few words and a few concepts that give us an insight into the culture and the people.

This small book can best be described as a series of meditations on important Japanese philosophical concepts. Stunning black and white photographs by Michael Kenna are combined with artwork and calligraphy by David Buchler and haiku by Motsuo Basho and intertwined with interpretive text by Mari Fujimoto. The result is a series of reflections that invite the reader to pause on each page. It is the kind of book to which one will return again and again.

Now that I use a tablet computer for most of my reading, it seems elegant and even a bit indulgent to hold a real paper book in my hands. It seems even more indulgent to pack such a volume into my luggage when I am traveling light. However, I suspect that this small book will be tucked into my backpack when I head to Japan this summer.