THERE is no substitute for actuality, yet art books can JL do wonders in bringing home to space-bound men impossibly far realms of art. This spring, with the publication of Japan: Ancient Buddhist Paintings, the New York Graphic Society offered U.S. readers 32 color reproductions of masterpieces of Japanese religious art that are rolled up in scrolls, tucked away in mountain monasteries or otherwise unavailable to all but the most determined travelers. Like all too many art books, Japan is expensive ($18), and its text contributes little or nothing to the pictures. But...

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