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This book is a meditation on life and time, inspired by the old ways, old roads and old words of centuries-ago Japan.

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Beth Kempton


kokoro [n.] intelligent heart, feeling mind

One year. Two devastating losses. Three sacred Japanese mountains. A major life transition, a heart full of grief and a revelation that changes everything.

Join Japanologist Beth Kempton on a pilgrimage through rural Japan in search of answers to some of life’s biggest questions: How do we find calm in the chaos and beauty in the darkness. How do we let go of the past and stop worrying about the future? What can an awareness of impermanence teach us about living well?

Together you will journey to the deep north of Japan, hike ancient forests, watch the moon rise over mountains of myth and encounter a host of wise teachers along the way- Noh actors, chefs, taxi drivers, coffee shop owners, poets, philosophers and the spirits that inhabit the land. You will contemplate the true nature of time at one of the world’s strictest Zen temples and nothing will be quite the same again.

This book is an invitation to cultivate stillness and contentment in an ever-changing, uncertain world. It all begins with the kokoro, a profound Japanese term which represents the intelligent heart, the feeling mind and the embodied spirit of every human being.

To explore the kokoro is to explore the very essence of what it means to be human in this tough yet devastatingly beautiful world. When you learn to live guided by the light in your kokoro, everything changes, and anything is possible.


‘A masterpiece.’
Joey Hulin, author of Your Spiritual Almanac and Your Manifesting Year

‘A remarkable book. I think about it all the time. It’s a stunning piece of writing and an extraordinary achievement.’
Dr Ali Foxon, author of The Green Sketching Handbook

Anna Mathur, Sunday Times bestselling author of Mind over Mother and Know Your Worth

Michael Perry, author of Hortus Curious

‘Reading Kokoro has helped put me in such a contemplative, open-hearted place. Just wow.’
Hannah Nunn, author of Illuminate

‘Positing answers to life’s big questions through the lens of kokoro… it’s a beautiful book, and might just change the way you think about life, death, and time.’
Love Reading

Stylist Magazine pick as a ‘Best New Health & Wellness book

‘Powerful and moving.’
Zoe Tucker, author of Greta and the Giants

‘What a gift to the world this book is! Packed full of wisdom and insight from a culture that knows how to wrestle with the nature of impermanence, Kokoro connected me back with my own heartmind as I read it, whispering in the most comforting way that if this is it then I better stay in touch with what matters most.’
Ruth Allen, author of Grounded and Weathering

‘Beth’s book seeps into your brain and magically changes it. You will find that some beautiful life changes emerge from reading it. You’ll be moved by Beth’s bravery and inspired by her rare travel adventures. I adore this book.’
Lilla Rogers, author of I Just Like to Make Things