AN AMERICAN ARTIST IN TOKYO: Frances Blakemore — 1906-1997, by Michiyo Morioka. Seattle: The Blakemore Foundation/University of Washington Press, 2007, 200 pp., profusely illustrated, $35 (cloth)

Living more than 50 years of her life in Japan, artist Frances Blakemore was a close and sympathetic observer of the country. She left a record of what she saw — prints, drawings, paintings — and how she felt about what she saw. Her affection for the country and its people never wavered, but wartime vagaries tested what patience she might have had for its government.

Having first come to Japan in 1935, she watched as the country slid into war, drawing what she saw and supplementing this with letters describing how she felt. By 1938 the policing of foreigners had become common, and with her artist's eye Blakemore captured the military policeman in plain clothes.

"The nineteenth century idea of looking one's profession still prevails — the artist wears a black tam. In the new profession of flat-footing a prototype is taken from American movies. We are often able to spot the dark felt hat pulled down over one eye, the affected nonchalance of the wearer and his obvious attempts to get an interview with the least disturbance."