Comments/Reviews for "Whisper of the Land"
Updated Jan. 2, 2018
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"The Land Whisperer: An Interview with Edward Levinson"
The current Nov. - Dec. 2015 issue of Japan SPOTLIGHT, the magazine published by the Japan Economic Foundation, has a lengthy interview with me in English. Done in my natural conversational voice, the interview covers a wide range of subjects including my way of living, pinhole photography, my haiku and book, and my thoughts on Japanese culture. Its illustrated with 4 of my photos and a profile shot of me. Link and more info here!
"Whisper of the Land” book review in "American Chamber of Commerce in Japan" (ACCJ) Journal July 2015 by Vicki Beyer . She captures the essence of the book (and me) very nicely.
"Levinson’s book cannot be called an autobiography, but neither is it philosophy per se. For me, reading it provided an interesting, entertaining, and thought provoking respite.
The essay format, each beginning with one of the author’s poems and samples of his insightful photographs, made it possible to seamlessly shift from one theme to another without any grinding of the gears." READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
An article about me by art writer Susan Rogers Chikuba is online at "artscape Japan" web magazine. She talks about my spring 2015 photo exhibition in Tokyo, my book "Whisper of the Land", and my country life. Many photos included in the article.
Article Link: "Bridging Earth and Heaven: The Photography and Writings of Edward Levinson" by Susan Rogers Chikuba
Mini Review by Shawn Frederick at Goodreads Oct. 2017
"A memoir, a romance, a spiritual journey, portrait of an artist, a coming of age story, Whisper of the Land is a collection of essays that gradually paint a vivid picture of the ways that Japanese culture, spirit and terroir combine to make a wanderer whole, enrich a life and create a home…." READ MORE HERE
"On behalf of Lakeland College Japan, thanks so much for an engaging and insightful lecture ["Whisper of the Land" ] and slideshow last night. As you saw from the reaction of many students and visitors, there was a lot to talk about and a lot of food for thought." (Roger Grabowski, Jr., Assistant Professor of General Studies, Lakeland College Japan )
From a Lakeland student : Thank you, Mr. Edward Levinson, for your spectacular photo's, readings, and lecture! June 2015
From Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators Photo Talk, Tokyo:
"We are again grateful to Ed for coming from Kamogawa to share the wisdom and romance of his life and the pleasure of his company.
……and sharing your works and world." LR
"Ed, I enjoyed your presentation and would be interested in a photography workshop further down the line--maybe in spring? "SM
"A. and I really enjoyed Ed's photos and his enthusiasm for everything, Japan included. An inspiration! " PB January 2016
From a talk at the International Exchange Society (Ota-ku Tokyo):
"Thank you for visiting us all the way from Kamogawa and sharing us with quite insightful views and comments with a lot of slides of your photographs today.
Frankly speaking, we were a bit nervous to receive a world famous photographer and essayist to our venue, but to our delight our anxiety soon disappeared as you started your lecture with such a friendly manner. Your humorous comments whether you are asked to speak in English or in Japanese made me amused and brought me close to you because I never become certain in English language speaking skills. Same may be true with my colleagues. [Note: My lecture was in English as is the norm for their Japanese group]
You say that you have learned more from experience than from reading books and that the key to learning has always been listening, seeing and feeling with your heart. Your lecture today with your photographs were quite convincing to us in this regards. In answer to a question why you practice pinhole photography that take much more time, you told us that to see things closely you will like to take five minutes than a fraction of a second. You are quite right.
We also enjoyed your haiku that go well with your photographs. I myself read haiku and my teacher who is with "Hototogisu group" always emphasizes that you watch your subject closely and then, the subject will tell you something. I felt that you are doing the same when you take photography and read haiku associated with the photos.
My colleagues and myself enjoyed your lecture tremendously. Thank you very much for sharing your time with us this afternoon." Mr. Moriya Kurimura, Chairman of International Exchange Society, November 2017 (IES celebrated their 20th year anniversary in 2017 - Other IES commenter below)
COMMENTS: from Readers and Events - ( in the order received, NEWEST ENTRIES AT THE BOTTOM)
Note: These are authentic comments received through emails, Facebook, and old fashioned letters. Everyone gave permission for their quotes to be used. Initials are simply to respect their privacy.
"Beautifully written. I love your sentence structures. I love learning new foreign words.The haiku were just lovely and so picturesque! Loved them. The stories tied in with your personal philosophy never made me feel burdened as happens sometimes in memoirs.Thank you for not being overbearing. ;). I remained with you on the journey and stayed invested in your well being and the sheer guts it took to go on this trip. The trip of your Lifetime.
It's a book one could certainly pick up for a re-read just to pay closer attention to the lessons you teach. It resonates truth and sincerity and good feeling.....The pictures were simply perfect. And I believe the most wonderful cherry tree picture is the one in your garden. Stunning picture!" (MM, USA)
"..... your new book, Visions of Japan. I just started to read it. Wonderful writing along with lovely pictures. My wanderlust is getting sparked." (EM, USA)
"Your stories and reflections are so interesting. And (from the teacher in me) it's very well written." (LL, USA)
"..wanted to share that i've starting reading your book....a little at a time. it is absolutely enchanting and i find myself getting wrapped up in your inner thoughts and experiences. how wonderful the way you express yourself in these words. thank you for the exposure you are sharing with the world." (AG, USA)
"Awesome book! So glad to have it.
I must confess I've spent most of my time so far on the images. They're great." (SS, USA)
"I want to thank you for sharing your physical and spiritual journeys with your readers, Eddie. I loved the book and deeply appreciate receiving a signed copy.... I savored each essay, not wanting to come to the end. I know I will revisit Whisper of the Land many times...it is not a book I will read one time only. Thank you for your insights, your honesty, and your compassion...in your words and in your beautiful photographs." (JM, USA)
"Edward, Thank you for sending 'Whispers of Japan' into my home. There is calm in your words." (JS, USA)
"….. We started to read it on the beach this morning where we could watch Whales jumping around over the horizon. They also enjoyed us reading out loud sentence by sentence. We laughed and we were greatly entertained. We also thought about you both, sitting at the morning table at Solo Hill, sipping the tea. We would love to purchase more copies….Congratulations again! We love the title and the photo on the cover very much!" (SB, USA)
"Hello Ed-- I just got my copy of your book, and I love it! Reading it is like a meditation in itself. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your life in Japan." (JK, USA)
"I finished your book yesterday and was so sorry that it ended…I am ready for more especially on this snowy day in Tokyo. Loved the honesty, the flow.......Again, many thanks for committing your life to paper to share. I feel blessed." (CW, Tokyo)
"It is wonderful! deeply moving and both comforting and inspiring.... I'd like to give a copy of your book to my dear friend.... We are working towards a self-sustainable lifestyle (or rather, a MORE sustainable one) - and your words about gardening have been helpful to me - in particular, the importance of remembering to focus on the joy and the "wanting to" rather than the "have to"s. Thank you." (JY, New Zealand)
"I am back into reading the rest of your book - got pulled away after the first half and I wanted to immerse myself fully as the book deserves.
It’s lovely to just inhabit your photos and the flow of words and states of being into which they can place you.
So very simple, yet so very elegant. Never boastful, no pretense.
What is, is what is.
The truth as I guess it should be.
A maturity you can’t find in the study of words.
I wonder: did those words find you?" (ML, Tokyo)
"Hello Edward, Just thought I would let you know I have started reading your book. I am about 30 pages in, and I am enjoying it very much, the mix of text and your photography is wonderful and the way you write keeps my interest to keep reading more. The reason I say this is I am not a fast reader and I find a lot of books don't keep my interest for long and don't get finished. However I am looking forward to more free time when I can sit down and enjoy your book some more….. " (DS, UK)
"Best known for his photography, the author shares his photographic vision and writes with love and insight about his adopted culture. Please come and meet Edward. His is a beautiful book, for a beautiful day." (Book People, Richmond,VA USA)
"Extraordinary photography; enlightening writing, all presented with joy and passion. Thank you, Ed" (DS, from USA book event)
"you were terrific last night and your work is gorgeous. i love it. the wife is enjoying your book right now." (BK, from USA book event)
"Thank you Edward, great time, enjoyed the readings and looking forward to 'A Pinhole Journey'
"The word on the streets is that it's a moving and inspiring read!" (EB, Japan)
"I just wanted to congratulate you (again) on your book. I finished reading it some time ago, but just now getting around to this email. I liked the book very much. I liked the structure - not chronological, but rather musings of things that have been or are important in your life. It left me feeling admiration for the many choices you have made - such a consistency in your values and thoughtfulness in your actions. Its very impressive." (GK, USA)
"I just finished reading 'Whisper of the Land' and I sincerely enjoyed it. I liked and I share with you the need for some depth of thought." (JD, France)
"Your book launch was warm and engaging, filled with great stories, and populated by fascinating people. A real treat!" (SR, Tokyo - from Tokyo Book Launch event)
“As I began to read your book, it dawned on me that I’m about to get a more complete understanding of my dear friend’s life journey. I’ve already experienced a range of emotions with the first few pages (regret/ remorse at the way time has flown, for not staying in closer touch… and gratefulness for us having been pals for all of these years.
Just as you draw references to song lyrics in your book, just a few pages into it, a line from a tune of a departed friend of mine … began ringing in my head “ It felt like two old friends, meeting for the first time” (I never knew exactly what that meant, but it seems profound). I hope more of that lies ahead in the next chapters. What a treat….[2 months later…] …Loved your book. Like I said last time, and expected it to be, the read was such an enlightening and fascinating journey - the range of emotions felt were remarkable.” (CR, USA)
"I must tell you that I am enjoying your book! I read 5-6 pages a day lately, and am more than halfway through it. I am in awe of your ability to evoke emotions over your experience here in Japan, and I can't help but smile reading the passages you so eloquently have penned. My lament is that in a few weeks I will have finished it! I wanted to string it out, hoping it wold continue longer." …. continues a few weeks later… I read Ed Levinson's book, every word, up to: Epilogue. I have not gone further yet, because it will mean that I finished it, and I just don't want to put it down!!! Awesome and Inspiring comes to my mind. If you have not read his book, I really highly recommend it for those of us who have chosen Japan and in particular, minami Boso as home. I compared him to Annie Dillard - another pilgrim. He hits nails head on, it will cause you to get a speck in your eye at times, and you will find yourself smiling and nodding in agreement." (JW, Japan)
"Well I have finally got around to reading your book which I bought from you at last year's SWET bonenkai, and what a joy it is especially as I am reading it while listening to my Kitaro CD collection - a perfect combination. Your life and lifestyle in Japan is making for a fascinating read. Thank you for sharing it!" (JH, Tokyo)
"Did I tell you already I love your book? I meant to...shortly after CR. gave it to me, thanks! …I love the way you tell stories!" (KR, USA)
"I'm on page 129. The book is quite good on a lot of levels. You have done an excellent job and I hope you can continue with your writing. I'm seem to have a lot of distractions these days, otherwise I would have finished it by now. I can tell you I have a lot to discuss with you about the book but will save that for later…[a week later] … I finished it a few days ago and as I said I really enjoyed it on a lot of levels, especially inspired by the parts about gardening and growing things." (BS, USA)
"I received the book already. It is fascinating to see what people make of their opportunity to experience Japan. Thanks for your contribution to those of us who appreciate Japan and take pleasure in renewed contact with that fair land….(continues a week later)…. I would like to add a few things now that I have finished "Whisper of the Land." It was special for me to see the twists and turns that your life has taken and to understand some of the motivations for your choices. I did not choose natural farming and photography as paths to growth but I felt very happy that you did. You helped me to understand the joys and rewards as well as the hardship of taking the less common road. There was much wisdom too in your reflections on the sacredness of our relationships. And you brought to life the animistic side of Japan that has been muted but not totally lost. Thanks for sharing what has moved and shaped you as well as your inner world. (BK, USA)
It was great to meet you in Tokushima. Thank you for encouraging me to read your book. I finished in it two sittings, the first during the bus ride on the way back to Osaka, and the second last night. There are many pages dog-eared with passages underlined for me to return to.
Your writing and photographs are an inspiration to me. You have reminded me of the importance of practicing meditation and compassion. You have reminded me to be profoundly thankful for each person I meet, each nourishing mouthful of food I eat, and for each breath of air I take. Furthermore, because of the beneficial influence of your artwork on me, I am encouraged in my own creative pursuits, and hope that I can someday create a book that will have a similarly beneficial effect on others.
Thank you so much. I truly hope that our paths will cross again soon, at the next writers' conference if not sooner."
Sincerely, (WD, Japan)
"I just finished your enriching book. Reading it book made me think that you and I have a lot in common. I grew up in the San Francisco area and was influenced by the hippy movement, by the Beatniks, and the beginnings of the environmental movement…..I have lived in Korea, Thailand, the UAE, and five locations in Japan. I also love organic gardening although I have never seriously studied it. A while ago, I reduced my energy that I was putting into photography and concentrated on my teaching career. Now, I am rethinking my life and increasing the time that I give to writing….Your book is beautifully written. I could feel many of your emotions when I read your pages and looked at your images. (GG, Japan)
“I finished Edo-san's book and it is a gem. It was so thoughtful of you [his friend] to think of me and mail me this Japanese Treasure.”…. “I lived in Japan for eleven years and had many similar experiences to what author, Edward Levinson had while living in that land of mystery. Levinson discovered a deeper knowledge of what Japan really is because he was immersed in that culture whereas I lived on a U.S. military base. I so loved Japan and the Japanese people. I also experienced the terror of living there during the Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami. It was so sad to witness the destruction but a testament to the resiliency of the people to watch as they recovered from the disaster. I retired and moved back to the U.S. in 2012 but still have such pleasant and loving memories of my time in Japan. It was nice to remember the beauty and unique soul of the country while reading,"Whisper of the Land". This book is well written and helps the reader to experience vicariously the wonder and magic of Japan and her people. I highly recommend "Whisper of the Land". (GN, USA)
"Ed, I just want to tell you that I enjoyed chatting with you at the Japan Writer's Conference and enjoyed reading your book, Whisper of the Land. It's a sort of serendipity, but recently I seem surrounded by a large number of people totally confused about how to embark on the journey meant for themselves (a lot of university students in this category) but I also seem to be meeting a number of people who are writing very well (honestly and humbly) about their own journeys. A woman I went to high school with, but didn't know hardly at all, has a book out just now called "Trust Your Journey," a sort of self-help book on getting yourself going. Sometimes I feel we're on the cusp of a new age. It seems we'd better be on the cusp of a new age. Anyway, I think your story is an exemplary one. It doesn't tell people how to live, but rather how YOU lived, which was, exactly what Thoreau was up to. Sometimes people misunderstand him as a person who was encouraging them back into prehistoric times or something, when really he was just suggesting that people be a little more aware of nature--and to find their own way. That seems pretty much what you're up to in your book…. Best wishes. Happy photographing, and happy gardening, too. (SF, Japan)
I finished your book today. I have to tell you that I truly regret not getting to it sooner. It was a very touching and fascinating life story. Finished it basically in about two days of train rides.
We are of the same generation (I was born in '54) but our paths have been so different. You are very much a spiritual seeker-which I certainly am not. You are attuned to nature. I've spent much of my life trying to ignore it (from the waist deep snows of western NY to the deserts of the Middle East to Tokyo summers and rainy seasons.)
Anyway - I loved it, start to finish. Thank you for the experience. Looking forward to the next one." (SB, Tokyo Japan)
"I felt from your lecture that your long life in Japan has a deep insight into a Japanese race, culture and nature. I cannot say I perfectly got your lecture, but I got the outline because it was made with slides of pictures.
If I concretely say an impressive part in lecture, first, regarding Japanese word GIRI and NINJYOU, you explained GIRI means HAVE TO and NINJYOU means WANT TO, I sympathized with this translation very much, second, regarding the pinhole picture of young men sitting on the ground, I think the feature of young men express the person appearing in this era who don’t have a desire of wealth very much.
Thinking to know the thought and life style of author as vegetarian that was introduced by pinhole pictures… I bought the book WHISPER OF LAND.
In addition, I hope this book help me improve my English ability." M.H. Tokyo, commenter from IES lecture.
These are authentic comments received through emails, Facebook, and old fashioned letters. Everyone gave permission for their quotes to be used. Initials are simply to respect their privacy.