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As interest in the state of the country grows apace pre-Rugby World Cup and Olympics, “The Land We Saw, the Times We Knew” provides fascinating insight into early-modern Japan.

A neat collection of zuihitsu essays authored by Buddhist monks, doctors and warrior-class poets, the book is broken into seven chapters, each of which offers a treatise on different aspects of the country — from kabuki theater to the differences between the shogun and emperor’s capital — as well as a detailed introduction to the zuihitsu form written by translator Gerald Groemer.

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