In 1966, when Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre visited Japan at the invitation of the University of Keio and their Japanese editor Mr. Watanabe, their books had been translated, were well known and highly regarded. Though Beauvoir and Sartre knew this, neither realized how powerfully their work resonated with the Japanese. They were unprepared for the more than one hundred journalists and crowds of mostly young people waiting to greet them when they arrived. The existential difference between East and West was not, it seemed, as great as the geographic distance....
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