Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan

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Harper Collins, May 11, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 336 pages
4 Reviews

Learning to Bow has been heralded as one of the funniest, liveliest, and most insightful books ever written about the clash of cultures between America and Japan. With warmth and candor, Bruce Feiler recounts the year he spent as a teacher in a small rural town. Beginning with a ritual outdoor bath and culminating in an all-night trek to the top of Mt. Fuji, Feiler teaches his students about American culture, while they teach him everything from how to properly address an envelope to how to date a Japanese girl.

 

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Learning to bow: an American teacher in a Japanese school

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In 1987-88, Feiler was a participant in the Japanese government's Living English program, teaching English and American culture in the middle schools of Sano, a rural town north of Tokyo. His report ... Read full review

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Explores the cultural differences and different facets of culture shock of an American teaching ESL in Japan. Central among these is the independence of the West versus the dependence of the East. Feiler talks about his experiences with sensitivity and humor.

Contents

THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR
1
DRAWING THE LINES
16
THE FIRST DAY IN SCHOOL
26
THE WELCOME PARTY
45
THE SPORTS FESTIVAL
55
FALL IN THE CHESTNUT BASIN
63
THE ANATOMY OF A JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL UNIFORM
75
MAKING HOSPITAL ROUNDS
85
TWIN WINTER ESCAPADES
146
THE TEACHER IN JAPAN
167
THE JUKU GENERATION
179
DRINKING ALONE IN RURAL JAPAN
191
HOW TO PICK UP A JAPANESE GIRL
203
A CHERRY BLOSSOM SPRING
221
THE INVISIBLE CLASS
238
THE ANNUAL SCHOOL EXCURSION
260

TRASH DAY
98
THE LOST ART OF SCHOOL LUNCH
109
NEW YEARS EVE AND THE RISING SUN
120
THE JAPANESE COLOR WHEEL
131
A FINAL BOW
305
191
316
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Page 75 - Beware Of entrance to a quarrel ; but, being in, Bear 't that the opposed may beware of thee. Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice : Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Page 1 - HE drew a circle that shut me out — Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in ! EDWIN MARKHAM The Man with the Hoe Written after seeing Milled ivorld-famous painting of a brutalized toiler.
Page 146 - Jog on, jog on, the foot-path way", And merrily bent* the stile-a : A merry heart goes all the day, Your sad tires in a mile-a.
Page 39 - ... the only way in which adults consciously control the kind of education which the immature get is by controlling the environment in which they act, and hence think and feel. We never educate directly, but indirectly by means of the environment.
Page 120 - Praise to Joy, the God-descended Daughter of Elysium! Ray of mirth and rapture blended, Goddess, to thy shrine we come. By thy magic is united What stern Custom parted wide, All mankind are brothers plighted Where thy gentle wings abide.
Page 98 - In the administration of all schools, it must be kept in mind, what is done is not for the sake of the pupils, but for the sake of the...
Page 36 - Korean school system consists of six years of elementary school, three years of junior high school, three years of senior high school, and four years of college.
Page 89 - ... or tea, and — in even greater detail — whether one wants it with sugar, and milk, and so on. I soon realized that this was only the American's way of showing politeness to his guest, but in my own mind I had a strong feeling that I couldn't care less. What a lot of trivial choices they were obliging one to make — I sometimes felt — almost as though they were doing it to reassure themselves of their own freedom.
Page 16 - He went on to explain how each totemic ancestor, while travelling through the country, was thought to have scattered a trail of words and musical notes along the line of his footprints, and how these Dreaming-tracks lay over the land as "ways" of communication between the most far-flung tribes.

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About the author (2004)

Bruce Feiler is the author of five consecutive New York Times bestsellers, including Walking the Bible, Abraham, and America's Prophet. He writes the "This Life" column for the New York Times and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and twin daughters.

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