The author recounts her experiences living in Japan during the 1960s, where she became involved with the activities of a Zen monastery and attracted to one of its members
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: A Zen Romance is a madcap memoir by an American woman who went to Japan in the late 1960s and - much to her own surprise - lost her heart to Zen. When the author first went to Japan to study the language, she was relatively unaffected by the Zen fervor then gripping young people across the United States. She was even known to announce, only half-jokingly, that she was going to Japan to "get away from Zen." But as it happened, the small room she rented in Kyoto was actually on the grounds of an ancient monastery. Over the course of months of conversation and meals with the monks, her wry sense of humor and unfailing generosity endeared her to them. Meanwhile, their practical, down-to-earth values made the religion a lot more appealing and accessible than she'd expected. Soon she was completely captivated by the wit and paradoxes of Zen, and even became the first foreigner allowed to take part in that temple's O-Zesshin, a week of intensive manual labor and meditation. However, just to complicate things a bit, one of the men there happened to look quite striking with his shaved head and subdued kimono. And before long she had caught his eye as well...