In Los Angeles, browsing Chinatown one summer, I discovered — in a dim sandalwood-scented shop full of painted vases and antique scrolls — a book by D. T. Suzuki: Zen and Japanese Culture. It was a substantial hardback, printed on milky paper with a hefty scattering of illustrations: insects on withered leafs, brush-painted tigers, peach blossoms in snow, monkeys peering from bamboo, cloud-hidden huts of meditation masters. In the shop, a few joss sticks burned in a ray of light. A cat napped under a red and gold altar with antique photos over it. Tangerines glowed in their porcelain bowl on a carved mahogany table. The world seemed suddenly very old — and very new. In awe of the book’s content and illustrations, I purchased it (probably the most I’d ever spent on the printed word) and eagerly devoured every page.
Article by John Brandi in Kyoto Journal.
Among the grasses
an unknown flower
—Masaoka Shiki (1869—1902)