SBP Blog

Donald Richie's "The Inland Sea" gets a new/old look

Peter Goodman - Monday, September 28, 2015

This month we are releasing a new edition of Donald Richie’s novelistic travel journal The Inland Sea.

The book was first published over 40 years ago, and while the villages and lifestyles that Richie describes in its pages have changed greatly since then, the landscape, the hills and waves and especially the stunning cloudscapes are as they were. And while Japanese people may now be more fashionably dressed and newly equipped with every techno device imaginable, the fundamentals of their -- or anyone’s ---culture don’t change so fast. Certainly the odd foreigner wandering about on his or her own is still something to remark on in the remoter parts of the country. Much of Richie’s views of Japan had to do with his unshakable belief that he would forever be an Outsider in the country he had adopted but that had not exactly adopted him. It was this separation of himself from the places where he enjoyed his most intimate encounters that gives his writing such a sense of close observation from a distance.

Donald Richie

So why a new edition? What was wrong with our old one? The Inland Sea was first published in 1971 as a hardcover with photographs by the Weatherhill company, presided over by Meredith Weatherby, a brilliant book designer. It was re-released in the 1990s by Kodansha International as what can charitably be called a cheap paperback. We at Stone Bridge obtained the right to publish it directly from Donald in the early 2000s. Cost calculations led me to contrive a two-column format in small type that would be readable yet save on manufacturing costs. We also were fortunate enough to obtain access to screen grabs of a recent documentary film that had been based on the text. The cover was given a wonderful new graphic design by D. S. Noble.

The quality was high, but we made a great sacrifice in elegance and received some harsh criticism from online reviewers. I had made a mistake and always felt bad that we hadn’t done Richie’s signature work justice. So after Donald’s passing in 2013 I determined we would do better.

And we have. We’ve returned to a larger and more traditional format. And we were able to track down the wife of photographer Yoichi Midorikawa and obtain permission to use all of his photographs from the original 1971 edition. She said she was not sure where the original photos were, but thanks to modern scanning technology we were able to reproduce the photos perfectly well from a couple of used library volumes we purchased online.

The Inland Sea is one of those books about Japan that should never go out of print. I’m glad we’ve brought it back in a quality edition. The typeface has been updated, but we were careful to pay homage to some of Meredith Weatherby’s original text geometry and specifications. In this way, we’re honoring not just the writer, but the book, which has played such a key role in the legacy of Donald Richie and provided several new generations of expat observers with a model to follow in their own writings.

For more information click here

Like our blog? Please share it!


Subscribe to the SBP Mailing List

New Releases

Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan

Going to Japan? This unfussy modern guide guarantees you keep it polite and get it right!

Easy and Fun Katakana

Learn the second key Japanese syllabary from every angle: reading, writing, and real-world examples.

Exploring Kyoto

This revised and updated edition of the Japan travel classic and cultural guide gets you wandering from downtown quarters to remote mountaintop temples and features expanded information on new museums and gardens now open year-round for viewing.

The Fourth String

Two women. Two cultures. One music.

Tag Cloud

haiku Year of the Dog book hoarding brad hawley travel Japan nara japan behavior tk nakagaki osamu dazai PEN AWARD living in japan benjamin franklin awards hippocampus magazine graphic novels tracy franz event astrology japan food Christianity damian flanagan gaijinpot zen stone bridge press a shameful life the millions Shoah kyodo news Chiune Sugihara verticle author event haibun polite henry kiyama buddhist traditional japanese instrumenet Chinese New Year suehiro maruo how to monk Coming of Age Day gallery awa book publicity peace Japanese art drinking in japan journal japanese culture otakuusa alan brill the hidden writer bookstore american shamisen donald keene china history musical four immigrants tea garden amys guide to bes tbehavior in japan Nikolas Bunton lesley university takuma sminkey how to order in japan buddhist swastika the fourth string astro boy tokyo visitor classic t.k. nakagaki japanese etiquette japanese bath traditional japanese instrument japanese instrument Korea william f sibley Olympics japan books the silver spoon japan trip zen monk memoir writing Tokyo Olympics huffington post sensei best behavior in japan walt disney japanese customs jing liu jared cook manners asian review of books finalist osaka japanese drunk 1960's Japan Second World War gaijin pot Asian Studies Japan the fourth string a memoir of sensei and me osamu tezuka tourist japan travel michael emmerich japanese cutlure Christianity in Japan black jack book writing why we write podcast 2020 Olympics kansuke naka foreigner in japan my year of dirt and water shamisen what do in japan blurb a memoir China Children's Books photography ningen shikkaku Japanese aesthetics monk wife amy chavez in the woods of memory forewrod reviews indies wife washington dc huffpost japanese classic lions roar holden caufield bowing in japan new release diy mfa frederik schodt memoir guide japan vacation min kahng japan book awards center of east asian studies nazi juddhism jun hazuki janet pocrobba Chinese culture kinokuniya event ancient symbol journal of a zen monk's wife UCLA new york 1960s Korea behavior Basho's Narrow Road the japan times Interview expat History comic history japan culture seppuku stone bridge cafe anime catcher in the rye danica davidson Language classic japanese literature learning shamisen evil book talk Art/Design japan guide how to travel in japan suicide swastika sensei and me learning in japan review author amys guide to best behavior in japan kyoto publicity Spirituality manga biography poetry of consciousness new books author tour university of chicago Japanese literature the buddhist swastika ex pat literature World War Two japanese dark horse memior Basho japan memoir foreword reviews award purification Okinawan literature Alexandra Johnson Anime/Manga/Comics announcement pottery ancient symbols Chinese history disney ibpa publishing university hate book award rachel manley mark gibeau japanese craft holocaust tea IBPA podcast welton gaddy eastern and western philosophy author signing dazai japan etiquette reviews hiroaki sato publishing japanese people literary prize benjamin franklin award book review monks wife travel to japan chinese comics buddhist symbols giajin Spring Festival diary the japan society gratitude in japan buddhist priest interfaith eating in japan nichi bei weekly, naomi hirarahara Translation AAS memoir, tracy franz, zen monk, buddhist new york events Travel religion koun traditional student teacher book reading literature etiquette Chinese Astrology leonard koren WWII fantasy literature books journal' monks wife Children's Literature politics and prose understandind china through comics zazen book tour alan moore shamisen performance diymfa Ukiyo-e manga book signing hitler japanese travel japanese books in english no longer human World War II literary review VIZ fred schodt non-fiction manji green tea Japanese holidays janet pocorobba comics japanese books Poetry japan restaurant ritual The Colorado Review yukio mishima matcha state of belief japanese instruments foreword indies asia Culture buddhism hitlers cross illustration will eisner 2019 japan custom japanese book hooked cross world literature today tricycle magazine book blurb performance shaimsen internment shun medoruma japan today Korea photography journal of a zen monks wife in japan