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any good books?

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  • any good books?

    Hello, I am 17 years old, living in Canada, and I will be goign to Japan in March, 2002.

    I was wondering if there were any good Japan-related english books that would be good enough to take the time and recommend.


    greg lalonde

  • #2
    Re: any good books?

    Live and Work in Japan

    if yo'ure going to be spending a long time there, that's the one.


    • #3
      Re: any good books?

      hey thanks harvey! Yeah for sure I will look into that one. How is it helpful to an exchange student though?

      do you know of any fictional story-like books... related to Japan/japanese culture?

      arigatou !

      greg lalonde


      • #4
        Re: any good books?


        As promised, here are some books for you.

        Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone by Ian Macdonald
        Cyber world - Manga - Pop culture - Zen

        Speed Tribes by Karl Taro Grenfeld
        Dark side of Japan - Yakuza - Rebels

        Harpoon by C.W. Nicol
        Based on life of first Japanese whaler - excellent - author is Canadian who took Japanese citizenship

        Accidental Office Lady by Laura Kriska
        Realistic but enjoyable account of life in a Japanese company

        Japan think - Ameri think by Robert Collins
        Great cultural comparison

        Enigma of Japanese Power by Karel van Wolferen
        The classic analysis - heavy going but accurate

        Any book by Jon Woronoff
        Ignored by very practical writer on Japan - economy, social structure, future

        Quake by Albert Aletzhauser
        Simple but superb fictional account of next Tokyo earthquake, packed with insights into today's Japan. I keep my own backpack at home ready for the next one, and trust no-one, especially the emergency services.

        The House of Nomura by Albert Aletzhauser
        Excellent account of one of the world's biggest brokers and finance houses

        Pink Samurai by Nicholas Boronoff
        The world of sex in Japan, and attitudes to the people who go there and work there.

        Dogs and Demons by Alex Kerr
        Slightly bigoted but accurate view of Japanese construction and environment today

        Silent Thunder by Peter Tasker
        Big business detective story, based on collusion and tradition

        The Ministry by Peter Tasker
        The truth about the Ministry of Finance, who until recently wielded tremendous power in Japan, and the elite who join it and run it.

        Mitsui by John Roberts
        Excellent history of one of the world's biggest trading houses, an almost de facto second foreign ministry in Japan in the past, and their influence on both Japan and the rest of the world

        The Brothers by Lesley Downer
        Account of the two rich Tsutomi brothers who control a lot of Japan, their rivalry and their influence on the Japanese Royal Family

        Geisha by Lesley Downer
        Forget the popular Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden which is drivel, this is a great book on the real world of Geisha by a great writer

        Japanese Society by Chie Nakane
        Timeless account by a great psychologist

        Silent Cry by Kenzaburo Oe
        Great novel by the nobel prize winner

        idoru by William Gibson
        Novel of a future world, of virtual images taking life, and the rivalaries of the cyber universe

        Bitter Sea by Akio Mishima
        Account of the Minamata Poisoning Outbreak and the attitude of authorities, and the battle the common people had to fight for compensation

        Before everyone writes to criticise or complain about my choice, there are about 400-500 books on Japan weighing down my bookshelves in downtown Yokohama, both in English and Japanese, and I had to select just a few of them for availability and readability, and to try to give an impression of Japan today. There are many more out there, and everyone has their favourites.

        Hope you manage to enjoy some of them

        Trip Hop Ms.


        • #5
          Re: any good books?

          3 days and no replies on the book list?
          Doesn't anyone read them anymore?
          Does everyone prefers the shallow but hyperlinked vagaries of the internet?
          Think you're missing a lot.
          At least I can read a book in the bath, on the train, in bed; without worrying about broadband connections, browser incompatibilities, operating systems, and the like. And the contents are generally more reliable and easier to assimilate, than peering at aliased text on screen.


          Trip Hop


          • #6
            Re: any good books?

            Books? I think I remember those. They are the things with lots of pages and words, right? Weren't those made obsolete by now? Well, if newspapers can survive radio, television, and the internet, then I guess books will survive too.


            • #7
              Re: any good books?

              no one funny,

              what is your point?

              greg lalonde


              • #8
                Re: any good books?

                i have read speed tribes and silent thunder both of which i enjoyed a great deal.

                so there ya go! a comment for trip hop!


                • #9
                  Re: any good books?

                  I'd recommend the book "The Emperor's General" by James Webb. It's an historical novel about MacArthur's occupation of Japan after WWII. The novel is a fun read and provides interesting insights into Japanese thinking.

                  Comments about the book are welcome.


                  • #10
                    Re: any good books?

                    there's a good list of recent books on Japan, covering a wide-spectrum of subjects, here:



                    • #11
                      Re: any good books?

                      Trip Hop,

                      Your list sounds wonderful, if only I could afford all of those! And I don't know about the availability within Australia either!

                      I haven't read that many books on Japan but I am reading 'The Tale Of Murasaki' at the moment, which is okay.

                      I did like 'Memoirs of a Geisha' though!

                      Think I will try and find 'Speed Tribes', it sounds great!


                      • #12
                        Re: any good books?

                        I have heard that Chrysanthemum and the Sword by Ruth Benedict is a good read...sure would like to hear what Trip Top has to say on this book.
                        I personally enjoyed 'Straight Jacket Society: An Insider's Irreverent View of Bureaucratic Japan' by Dr. Masao Miyamoto. Now that the Japanese government is getting much attention these days, this book may help understand what's going on in Nagato-cho, and why.....


                        • #13
                          Re: any good books?

                          Trip Hop, not Trip Top...
                          pardon the blooper!


                          • #14
                            Re: any good books?

                            I know this SO college Eastern Lit class, but I'd recommend The Tale of Genji--the Edward Seidensticker translation (which is more true to Lady Murasaki's writing, so I'm told, than Arthur Waley's). It's one of my favorite books, and although I'm sure plenty is lost in any translation, it really gave me insight into the aesthetic of transience and sorrow that is so important in Japanese art and lit... such a beauty of a book. And it's perfect if you're at all interested in the Heian period (such an interesting time!!)


                            • #15
                              Re: any good books?

                              Hey Julia

                              I too recommend The Tale of Genji, it's one of the most famous books in Japanese literature. It was written by a woman almost 1200 years ago!

                              I am also reading a very good book (though the title sounds heavy and boring) Japanese Aesthetics and Culture; A Reader - Edited by Nancy G. Hume. It's actually a collection of essays about the different aesthetic principles in Japanese literature, No theatre, haiku and arts and how they all reflect on principles of Japanese culture. It sounds heavy for a 17 year old but actually it's really good for a general overview to many aspects of japanese culture. It includes a look at The Tale of Genji and the Hein period that it was written in.