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Sunday, July 10, 2005


"Old Kyoto" revived

OLD KYOTO, by Diane Durston. Kodansha International, 248 pp., 120 color photos, 150 illustrations, 2004 (revised edition), 2,200 yen (paper).

Diane Durston, a writer, lecturer and consultant on Japan and Asian studies, describes Kyoto with the loving care of a preservationist. She begins "Old Kyoto," originally written in 1986, with a concise history of the city's imperial past and continues with brief descriptions of its crafts, traditional cuisine and accommodation -- just enough to whet the tourist's appetite before moving on in detail to the five main areas of Central, Eastern, Northern, Western and Southern Kyoto.

Focusing on old shops, inns and other attractions that have survived the modernization of the city, Durston's guide takes the tourist to quaint back streets to find calligraphy brushes, bamboo baskets, fans, dolls and other genuine hand-crafted items.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Durston's classic guide has been completely revised. This new edition includes a Web site list and a further reading list, but other alterations are simply detail updates -- which goes to show that like crafts in Kyoto, quality writing survives the years.

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