Yes, normally I don’t really accept Non-fiction books like this one, but I do love Japan, so I decided to accept and read it. I am glad I did, it was really interesting, and fun to read, even though there were a few things I didn’t entirely liked.
The author travels through Japan, we visit cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, but also remote islands. Which I love, I was thinking this would be a travel book with mostly popular places, but instead it also shows some lesser known parts of Japan.
Not only that, but it also tells us about the effects on the country after the big earthquake in 2011.
Our guide is Patrick Colgan, who visited Japan and is telling us all about each city/part. Not only that, but he also tells us about the people, about the ways of transportation, about parks, about food (loved the Ramen part), and about a whole lot of other things. I always love to read books about Japan from the POV of someone who doesn’t live there. It just all is more bright, more confusing as well (since you can just imagine how confusing it all must be, to be in a country where you can barely read the signs, the words), it all seems more amazing and beautiful. I loved to see the wonder in his travels, to see him discover new things.
There are also photographs, you can find them at the end of the book, at least that was how it was for my copy.
They were great, gave some more insight in the travels of our author.
I also was delighted to see that he explained the Japanese words. I knew most of them already, but it was still fun to see them explained, and in a way that doesn’t jar you from the story. I have seen enough books use foreign words and then either don’t explain them, or just over-explain them. Not this writer. Often it is just a short definition, but at times he will just talk about the words about, however, in a fun way, telling us about his experience with it.
The tattoo part was interesting, I have heard how Japan thinks about tattoos, and to see the author, with a tattoo, enter an onsen, fearing that he might not be allowed because of the tattoos, made the whole tattoo problem more personal, and interesting. I was curious to see how it would end. 🙂
The Hiroshima part was very interesting. I have read some travel books about Japan, but often they would just list the basic things about Hiroshima. In this book you can clearly see, and feel, how the author felt when he was in Hiroshima. All that he saw, through his eyes, and from a personal perspective, not a clinical one as many travel books have.
However, the reasons why I didn’t rate this one higher than 3.5 stars, even though I loved the travel through Japan, were:
1) The fact that it was a bit of a hotchpotch, we have stuff from when he first came to Japan, to parts were he clearly has been in Japan for a few times. It is a bit confusing at times. One moment he would talk about how stuff was new, but the next part in the book it seems he has been in Japan for some time, and he reminiscences about his earlier times.
2) The English was a bit stiff, and dry. It didn’t read all to comfortably, and at times it jarred me out of the story. And that is a shame, I did enjoy the book, but I had trouble getting through stuff due to the stiff/formal language.
But all in all, this is a pretty good, and interesting book. A lot of things I already knew, but there were also several things I didn’t know, and I loved reading them and learning more about Japan. Which I hope to visit one day.
Would I recommend this book? Yes. Even if one already knows a lot about Japan, or is a complete newbie to the country, this book will be fun for both of them.