Donald Richie (1924-2013), The Inland Sea
(1971; rpt. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 2002), p. 224:
They know what all natural men know: that life is here and now, not in any further state, either theological or financial; they know that death is certain and this they accept with a grace almost shocking to the struggling West, which must retaliate by calling them suicide prone or death oriented; and they know perfectly well that reality is that which is apprehended and nothing more. This does not make them pragmatic because no one would think of constructing a rationale to support such a natural observation, but it does make them empirical. And we of the West find it difficult to live in a land of one dimension such as this. We must always have the further lure and promise of something more, something better, whether it be heaven or a yet higher standard of living, because we must think of ourselves as somehow more, somehow better.
But I am speaking of the people of the Inland Sea; I am speaking of old Japan. Already the change is upon us—already the innocence is fading, going, gone. It lingers here, in these islands that I have so recently visited, but only for a time. I'm fortunate to have seen it.