Pico Iyer, on living in Japan (or anywhere foreign).

“A large part of being here comes, I think, from the enforced simplicities that accompany a very foreign life. Living far from anywhere, without a bicycle or private car, I conduct my days, nearly always, within the boundaries of my feet; living without newspapers or magazines–and a television most of whose words are modern Greek to me–I can be free, a little, of the moment and get such news as I need from the falling leaves, or the Emerson essays on my shelf. Living in a small room, moreover, prompts me to be sparing, and to live only with the books and tapes that speak to me in ways I can respect. And not knowing much of the local tongue frees me from gossip and chatter and eavesdropping, leaving me in a more exacting silence…being in so alien an environment is the first step towards living more slowly, and trying to clear some space, away from the world ever more revved up.”

Pico Iyer, The Global Soul

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