In 1980 I spent five weeks in the small, secluded city of Hagi, Japan. Nominally I was there to evoke the antiquity of the city and tell the story of its most famous citizen, Yoshida Shoin Sensi, a revolutionary, patriot and teacher.

But I fell under the spell of Japan itself. By that I mean the Japanese manner of daily living—the way fish were sorted, the way money was counted, the everyday ordering of things. There was an innate-seeming aesthetic to Japanese life that I admired and identified with. 

That aesthetic was no where more sustained than at the Tomoe, the small traditional inn where I stayed. Every morning I left the Tomoe in search of the essential Japan. But there was no real reason to do so. The Japan I was seeking was within its wooden walls.