There is Japan, and then there is Japan.
Follow the author from his first early morning glimpse of Mount Fuji to the deepening realisation that even our most familiar and cherished notions can prove to be insubstantial scraps of nothingness.
At times earthy, at times philosophical, 'Japan Dreams' is more than a zen-like meditation on life. It is a high-speed criss-crossing of the landscape both geographical and social, a discourse on ways of seeing, and a surprisingly personal exploration of the differences between the many worlds we inhabit.
Editorial Review - Jan Dodd, author of 'Rough Guide To Japan'
Mark really engages with the reader. He has the light touch of a natural story-teller and yet, at the same time, manages to introduce fairly weighty, academic subject-matter without appearing pretentious. Reading carries you along on Mark's voyage of discovery, gradually peeling back the layers of this complex, nuanced nation.
Mark has a wonderful eye for character and detail. In one memorable image he describes a workman vacuuming loose pine-needles from a tree. His chance meeting with the eccentric academics makes another nicely perceived vignette. Through episodes such as these, Mark conveys a real flavour of Japan, far from the cliched tourist-brochure world of cherry-blossoms and geisha.
I particularly responded to Mark's tendency to question everything. He is constantly analysing what he sees and learns in order to form his own opinions, not simply repeating accepted "truths." He gives some very perceptive insights into the nature of "reality" in Japan. He notes the very different attitude the Japanese have to replicas, such as the "ancient" Ise shrine and the value put on the faked autograph of a sumo wrestler. Equally fascinating is his perception of the emptiness, the "nothing" that lies at the core of so much in Japan, of Shinto religion and Zen Buddhism, and of the ephemeral beauty which is central to Japanese aesthetics."