Books

 

In 2009, I met feminist publisher Ruth Gottstein, owner and president of Volcano Press, a 30-year-old publishing house based outside of San Francisco that had made a name for itself by producing pioneering books on women's issues. Ruth was 83 when I first met her on Shiraishi Island, although she'd been reading my Japan Times column for several years before that. When I turned to her for advice on publishing a book on the Shikoku Pilgrimage, she took me by complete surprise when she said, "We'll publish it!" Ruth loved Japan and she had a passion for the Pilgrimage as well as confidence in me and my story. "Running the Shikoku Pilgrimage: 900 Miles to Enlightenment" was published shortly after in 2013, with a foreword by theĀ  quirky but lovable "Barefoot" Ted McDonald (known best for his starring role in "Born to Run," by Christopher McDougall (Alfred A Knopf, 2009)). Never had I been in such the right place at the right time.

Ruth is 99 now, retired from publishing several years ago. I often tell people that someday I hope to mature into a person just like Ruth: forward-thinking, tenacious, practical, and gracious.

In 2016, upon Ruth's retirement, Volcano Press closed shop and my book went with it. But I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such an inspirational woman and I look forward to when the book will be re-released as a much more comprehensive, descriptive and literary tale of this American woman's path to enlightenment on Japan's Shikoku Pilgrimage in 1998. Needless to say, both me and my writing have matured a lot in the past 25 years!

During the Spring of 2017, I was in the middle of a dispute between a tourist and the local restaurant here on the island. Everything turned out fine, but I returned home exasperated. Desperate for someone to listen, I penned an email to Peter Goodman at Stone Bridge Press with the following subject heading: A badly needed book on Japan! Peter got right back to me with, "Can you get the manuscript finished by the end of September?" I submitted it two weeks late, but the result was Amy's Guide to Best Behavior in Japan: Do it Right and be Polite! (Stone Bridge Press, 2018) which is enjoying brisk sales and ratings. If you read this book, you will never have a dispute with a local restaurant, nor will you make any faux pas! You can order it here.

As the tourist boom hit Japan in the past decade and travelers seek further off the beaten track areas, smaller destinations such as Shiraishi Island in the Seto Inland Sea (the same body of water made famous by Donald Richie's book "The Inland Sea") are becoming of interest. When I spoke with Tuttle Books about writing an oral history of Shiraishi Island, where I live, they were intrigued to see what it would bring to the traveler's table. The result is the recently released The Widow, the Priest and the Octopus Hunter: Discovering a Lost Way of Life on a Secluded Japanese Island (Tuttle Publishing, 2020) I would like to write more about the Inland Sea islands I am so familiar with, but much of it depends on sales of this first book, and whether readers show interest in these small islands full of history, culture and tradition. So, read up!

Articles about Amy

The Buddhist Review: tricycle, "Run Pilgrim, Run" by Sheila Burt (Winter 2016)
Writer's Digest Magazine (profile) by Jan Jaben-Eilon (March, 2008)

NHK World

Correspondent for "J-Trip Plan" reporting on the Setouchi Art Festival, Okayama's Naked Festival and the Kasaoka Islands.