Donald Richie lived in Japan for most of his life, speaking the language fluently. Like me, he focused on verbal studies, rather than committing to memorizing thousands of kanji characters. When I became interested in Japanese culture as a kid, Richie became a kind of distant mentor. The images in his books fueled my fascination and his work as a journalist inspired me to major in Japanese Studies/Sociology in college and to move there after graduation. I taught in the far north and published some pieces in The Japan Times. Although our circles mingled in Japan, I never did get a chance to meet him in person. Donald Richie died in Tokyo today at the age of 88. Amazon author page here. Essential books: Films of Akira Kurosawa, Image Factory: Fads and Fashions in Japan, The Donald Richie Reader, Japan Journals 1947-2004, Ozu: His Life and Films, Inland Sea.
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