David Young was born in the United States and spent his childhood in Sierra Leone, West Africa. After obtaining a B.D. in religion and anthropology  from Yale University, an M.A. in Asian studies from the University of Hawaii, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Stanford University, he taught anthropology at the University of Alberta in Canada until he retired in 10900 and moved to Japan with his wife Michiko to continue his teaching career. David has conducted fieldwork in Mexico, China, Japan, and Canada, and has taught courses on Japan, anthropological aesthetics, psychological anthropology, and health and healing. Together with Michiko, he has conducted research on Japanese aesthetics for many years.

Michiko Young was born in China and raised in Japan. After graduating from Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, she married David and moved to the United States and then to Canada, where she worked for many years in the international affairs office at the University of Alberta.

The Youngs now live on the west coast of Canada. They have co-authored three books on Japanese art and aesthetics (see below).



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Our Books on Japan

 The Art of the Japanese Garden is the only historical overview of Japanese gardens that covers Japanese gardening culture in one beautiful book. Hard and soft cover editions, as well as Kindle, are available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

Japanese gardens are rooted in two traditions: an indigenous prehistoric tradition in which patches of graveled forest or pebbled beach were dedicated to nature spirits, and a tradition from China and Korea that included elements such as ponds, streams, waterfalls, rock compositions and a variety of vegetation. The Art of the Japanese Garden traces the development and blending of these two traditions, as well as the inclusion of new features as gardening reached new heights of sophistication on Japanese soil.

300 full-color Japanese garden illustrations and photographs highlight notable gardens in Japan, including graveled courtyards, early aristocratic gardens, esoteric and paradise gardens, Zen gardens, warrior gardens, tea gardens and stroll gardens. Also included are sections on modern trends and Japanese gardens in other countries.

Winner of the 2006 American Horticultural Society Book Award!


The Art of Japanese Architecture provides a broad overview of traditional Japanese architecture in its historical and cultural context. Hard and soft cover editions, as well as Kindle, are available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

IIt begins with a discussion of prehistoric dwellings and concludes with a description of modern Japanese buildings. Important historical influences and trends—notably the introduction of Buddhist culture from Korea and China, the development of feudalism, and the influence of modern Western styles of building—are all discussed in detail as facets of Japanese design.

Through all of these changes, a restrained architectural tradition developed in marked contrast to an exuberant tradition characterized by monumentality and the use of bold colors. The book provides tremendous insights into the dynamic nature of Japanese architecture and how it reflects an underlying diversity within Japanese culture.

The book is profusely illustrated with over 370 color photographs, woodblock prints, maps, diagrams, and specially commissioned watercolors. A classic in the making, The Art of Japanese Architecture will be sure to enlighten and delight readers.

Spontaneity in Japanese Art and Culture is the first comprehensive analysis of Japanese art and aesthetics in their cultural context. Hard and e-book editions are available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. The softcover edition is available through this site. Please contact the authors for details.

A central theme of the book is that Japanese art and aesthetics are governed by many of the same cultural rules that apply in other areas of life.

Written for a general audience, this book will also appeal to Japan specialists and to those teaching courses on Japan because of its broad approach to seeing aesthetics in its cultural context. It is also an excellent resource for travelers to Japan or anyone interested in Japanese culture.

Profusely illustrated with over 200 color photographs and is presented in an easy to read format.  

Quote from a specialist on Japanese Culture:

"The richness and complexities of Japanese art and aesthetics are presented so clearly and illustrated so beautifully in this book, the reader truly is transported to the heart of Japanese culture and given a wonderful tool by which to see the logic and connection among such different aspects of Japanese life, while also making clear the profound concepts underlying different forms of art. To make sense of diversity in a culture and to reveal the social norms that underlie it is the heart of the anthropological enterprise. This book is not only one of the clearest expositions of Japanese aesthetics; it is an anthropological triumph." 
Pamela Asquith, www.pamelaasquith.ca    
Click here for the complete review



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Cry of the Eagle: Encounters with a Cree Healer
by David Young, Grant Ingram, and Lise Swartz

This book was first published in 1989 by the University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Buffalo & London) and is available from the University of Toronto Press OR Amazon.com.

"Compelling and highly informative reading", Dale Stelter, Edmonton Journal

 Cry of the Eagle discusses the process by which the anthropologists experienced the medicine man's work. That process required change in both Willier and his observers. One of the most powerful events in their three-year association occurred when David Young's wife suddenly became critically ill. In hospital her condition quickly worsened, and doctors were unable to diagnose the problem.

Young surreptitiously brought the medicine man to the hospital, where a combination of native remedies and Western medical techniques worked together to restore her health. Young, Ingram, and Swartz describe a process of shared vision and mutual change. They provide a rare insight into an aspect of native culture little known to the outside world. Very readable format with photographs.


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A Cree Healer and His Medicine Bundle
by David Young, Robert Rogers and Russell Willier   

Published in 2015 by North Atlantic Books, this book is available from the publisher in Print, E-Book or Audio. Also available from  Amazon.com.

With the rise of urban living and the digital age, many North American healers are recognizing that traditional medicinal knowledge must be recorded before being lost with its elders. A Cree Healer and His Medicine Bundle is a historic document, including nearly 200 color photos and maps, in that it is the first in which a native healer has agreed to open his medicine bundle to share in writing his repertoire of herbal medicines and where they are found. Providing information on and photos of medicinal plants and where to harvest them, anthropologist David E. Young and botanist Robert D. Rogers chronicle the life, beliefs, and healing practices of Medicine Man Russell Willier in his native Alberta, Canada. Despite being criticized for sharing his knowledge, Willier later found support in other healers as they began to realize the danger that much of their traditional practices could die out with them. 

With Young and Rogers, Willier offers his practices here for future generations. At once a study and a guide, A Cree Healer and His Medicine Bundle touches on how indigenous healing practices can be used to complement mainstream medicine, improve the treatment of chronic diseases, and lower the cost of healthcare. The authors discuss how mining, agriculture, and forestry are threatening the continued existence of valuable wild medicinal plants and the role of alternative healers in a modern health care system. Sure to be of interest to ethnobotanists, medicine hunters, naturopaths, complementary and alternative health practitioners, ethnologists, anthropologists, and academics, this book will also find an audience with those interested in indigenous cultures and traditions.


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The Mouse Woman of Gabriola: Brain, Mind and Icon Interactions in Spontaneous Healing
By David E. Young

Published in 2013 by Coastal Tides Press, this book is available through this site. Please contact the authors for details..

"This is an intriguing hypothesis about the role of religious icons such as the Mouse Woman in spontaneous healing."

The Mouse Woman of Gabriola is a life-sized image carved into a boulder on the small island of Gabriola, off the west coast of Canada. Situated in a peaceful forest setting, her upraised arm beckons visitors to participate in a sacred event, The "grandmother" spirit depicted in the petroglyph is important to First Nations of the Coast who believe that this spirit is dedicated to restoring order and rectifying injustices, particularly those involving young people. The Mouse Woman also appears to have healing powers. Individuals who come to the Mouse Woman for help have experienced "spontaneous healing" of a variety of illnesses.

It is likely that this healing occurs because of the inherent capacity of the human brain to produce much of the energy and chemicals needed for healing especially when these are enhanced by a variety of factors.

This book explores some of these factors, including the role of healers, the role of faith and meditation, mind/brain/body interactions, the placebo response, and the ability of individuals to tap external sources of healing energy such as energy from the environment. Regligious icons like the Mouse Woman help bring these factors together and provide a focus that can lead to spontaneous healing. 

The book is written in an easy to read clear sans serif font and is illustrated with many color photographs.