Asian studies in Lithuania

Life on the Volcano (Gyvenimas ant ugnikalnio)

Authors: Neimantas, Romualdas
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 1984
Publisher: Vaga

The book ,,Gyvenimas ant ugnikalnio“ written by the associated professor Romualdas Neimantas, provides us with an opportunity to travel in time through the Land of the Raising Sun. Throughout this book there are presented various written articles about the ancient and modern life (from the writer‘s point of view) of Japan. The comprehension of modernity might have changed as well as Japan might have changed, while having in mind that it has turned into one of the most modern countries of the World and it has to be mentioned that more than 30 years have passed since the release of this book. However, having a chance to look at this country from different perspectives – is essentially valuable. The stories told by the author are not only impressions from his first journey to Japan but also stories which were collected from local citizens of this country. These stories provide the readers with an opportunity to have even a loser “touch” with a country which often seems so distant and covered in myths.

We can compare this book with a kaleidoscope which introduces readers to the history, social life, customs, culture and art of Japan. During this “journey“ we go back in times when the Japanese nation began to shape, and it was believed that Japanese originated from the Gods and the dynasty of emperors, i.e. from the goddess – Amaterasu. As well as travelling to the times when the Land of the Raising Sun was closed up from the world during the Great Silence period. The author lets the reader not only travel in time, but also recognize the mask worn by this nation, which can mislead a lot of people who have not communicated deeply with the Japanese people.

“Gyvenimas ant ugnikalnio” also touches the spiritual life of the Japanese citizens: the synthesis of religions, spirituality of tea ceremony and conveying of senses through the art of flower arrangement – ikebana, bonsai, rock gardens, mix of traditional and modern art and the conception of beauty which is particularly different from the Western point of view. All of this draws the reader in and does not let turn aside from this multicolored kaleidoscope which also points out the connection between a small state near the Baltic sea and its famous genius painter and composer M. K. Ciurlionis and the Land of the Raising Sun.

The reader‘s attention is also drawn by the attractive design of the book. Plenty o Efforts have been put in order to engage the reader not only by the written articles about ancient and from the writer‘s point of view modern Japan but also by the using paintings by the Japanese painters on the cover and headpieces. The book is fulfilled with visual illustrations such as photos, which strengthen the stories about Japan: people‘s lives, kinds of art and the importance of nature. While going deep into the book, the reader will feel even a softer breeze of Japan by reading the rhymed texts written by the Japanese writers and translated by a Lithuanian poet  – Sigitas Geda.

Romualdas Neimantas – an associated professor, a well known cultural historian, an orientalist, and a longtime member of the Union of Lithuania‘s scientists who actively took interest in various countries of Asia, Africa and Oceania. Furthermore, he is one, who released more than 30 books. Owing to these books knowledge about the East lands is spread among the society. Many readers have already taken a great interest in these books written by R. Neimantas: „Pasaulis puodelyje arbatos“, „Auksinis drakonas“, „Nuo Nemuno iki Fudzijamos“ „Nuo Nemuno iki Gango“, „Faraonų pėdsakais“, „Nuo Nemuno iki Nilo“, „Gintaro kelias“ and the monografy „Rytai ir Lietuva“. In 2011 the greatest part of the collected publications by R. Neimantas concerning themes about Asia and Africa  were accrued to the Asian Studies center of Vytautas Magnus university.


Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU