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Rebecca Otowa

Writer and Painter


Structures of Kyoto: Writers in Kyoto Anthology 4 - Writers In Kyoto

The long-awaited Writers in Kyoto Anthology 4, Structures of Kyoto, has just been published and is now available on Amazon (USA) and Amazon (Japan). For more information, please see the link below. Grateful thanks to John Dougill, all contributors, and everyone who assisted us in this undertaking. We hope that you enjoy the wonderful writing and images within.


Rebecca Otowa

Karen Lee Tawarayama


The Mad Kyoto Shoe Swapper and Other Stories from Japan

The Mad Kyoto Shoe Swapper and Other Stories from Japan (Tuttle, 2019) is a collection of short stories written between 2013 and 2018. Many slices of life in Japan are represented -- present and past, men and women, Japanese and foreigner. The title story is about a young Japanese man whose hobby of stealing shoes from temples in Kyoto gets out of hand. Other stories include “Genbei’s Curse”, about a young woman dominated by her unpleasant father-in-law; “Trial by Fire”, about an ordeal endured by a family member in 1619; “A Year of Coffee and Cake”, about a young American woman who suspects that her neighbor has murdered an elderly relative; and “The Rescuer”, about a young businessman who loses his life due to a moment of inattention in a busy Tokyo train station. Illustrated with black-and-white sketches by the author.



I have lived in Japan for the past 40 years, raising a family and writing for various publications. I began writing about Japanese life and culture as I experienced them, and later my interest turned to Japanese society and psychology. By living and working in this, my second home, I have come to a deeper understanding of humanity in general. My sincere wish is that you too will be able to experience more deeply what it means to be human by immersing yourself in another culture through my writing. Also, with these books and articles, I have returned to my first love, drawing. Illustrating is a vigorous younger sister of my great love, painting.

Recent Books

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My Awesome Japan Adventure

My Awesome Japan Adventure (Tuttle, 2013) is a children’s book intended for upper primary school level. In it, Dan, an 11-year-old American boy travels to Japan and spends four months (autumn) in a homestay family. He has many adventures (harvesting rice, visiting a ninja village, sampling sushi, going to Japanese school) and learns how to do many things (making rice balls, writing his name in Japanese, performing traditional greetings and bows). Unlike many children’s books which are Tokyo-centered, this book is set in a rural area. Each lavishly illustrated page has a diary entry by Dan, along with many other pieces of information about “Stories from Long Ago”, “Tea Ceremony”, “Train Trip to Osaka”, “Just for Kids”, and many more. All illustrations and writing by the author.

At Home in Japan

At Home in Japan (Tuttle, 2010) is a collection of essays, self-illustrated with black-and-white sketches, with a central photo section. I originally planned the book as a tribute of gratitude to my house. The main theme is learning to be a member of a Japanese family and live in the ancestral home and village, as well as getting used to the wider culture of Japan. The book is arranged in topics including “Life at Home”, “Reminiscences”, “The Spirit of the House”, and “Lessons from Japan”. Each essay is short, so it is easy to dip in and out.

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