I recently read the book, The empty mirror : experiences in a Japanese Zen monastery by Janwillem Van de Wetering.
It was an ok book. The author traveled to Japan in the 1950's to learn about Zen Buddhism and live in a Zen monastery. From my reading, my view is that he did not learn much. It seems he was feeling the interest in Zen based on it's new popularity within the new 50's lifestyle of beatniks and others.
Although I understand how difficult life is in a Zen monastery, the author clearly did not want to partake fully in the requirements of the Zen monastery. He gave a hint of this in the book by revealing how he often slept in late or pretended he was sick in order to avoid the daily early morning zazen sessions. My feeling is his slacking was probably much more then he revealed in the book.
Here is something strange or bizarre. I finished reading the book about July 1st or 2nd 2008. On July 5th, I decided to look the author up in Wikipedia. As you can see from the Wiki article, the author had just passed away the day before on July 4th 2008. Just one of those bizarre little coincidences in life I guess.