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Kaleidoscope of Japan as seen through 100 lenses

A Day in the Life of Japan. New York: Collins Publishers. 236 pp. $39.95. On June 7, a hundred photojournalists fanned across Japan and took almost 135,000 photographs.

They were given loosely defined subjects and told ``to make extraordinary photographs of ordinary, everyday events.''

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Editors compiled the best photographs into this stunning kaleidoscope of a book.

The concept is intriguing: to see the light of one day in one country through the lenses of some of the world's best photographers.

The material is arranged in roughly chronological order, and small placer maps indicate the place and time a picture was taken. Portraits and short biographies of the photographers are included, and the book blooms as the reader flips back and forth, seeing who took what photograph.

The editors present the pictures as vignettes. Some are, in effect, photo essays, complete with text. And they cover a marvelous range: geishas to gangsters, cityscapes and countryside.

There are limits to what a coffeetable book can tell about a country's culture and history, but sometimes nothing but the color and drama of pictures will do. As a gift for someone interested in Japan, this book would do nicely.

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