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A Geek in Japan

26 Comments

Comprehensive and well informed, "A Geek in Japan" covers a wide array of topics in short articles accompanied by numerous photographs, providing a lively digest of the society and culture of Japan.

It's a hip, smart and concise guide to manga, anime, J-pop, or zen, martial arts, Japanese people’s character and society: It may be everything together. This book is based on the contents of a blog named “Kirainet.com” by author Hector Garcia, and the Spanish version is already a best-seller in Europe.

This is a compilation of knowledge that Garcia says has helped him to understand better this country and its people. Contents include: The Traditional Arts & Disciplines, The World of Manga & Anime, The Unique Japanese Character,・Modern Japanese Music, Curiosities & Symbols and Visiting Tokyo.

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I don't know why, but I have mixed feelings about this book. Interesting on one side, but I have my doubts whether it is realistic. Japanese people’s character and society -> Yes, because every Japanese person is the same... (sarcasm) The Unique Japanese Character -> smells like nihonjinron a lot... (and those are the things we are taught NOT to think, because it can lead to stereotypecasting and misunderstanding) (disclaimer; I know it is impossible to judge a book by it's cover, or in this case, the summary. However, I wanted to give my 2 cents (supposed if the writer really tries to describe "generic Japanese unique character")

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At first glance, this book looks like it will be great: full of information about Japan and very broad in its scope. Then you learn the book is only 160 pages long. If you look at the table of contents, each subject (man-girl relations, Enka ballads, Kaizen, etc.) only gets a single page. I suspect this will be a very shallow overview of Japan. Since the epilogue, credits and bibliography are all contained on page 160, I doubt this book is even a good starting off point for those curious about Japan. I suspect it has hundreds of very nice photos and very little text or depth of information. Of course, I have not read the book yet. Excuse me if I am wrong.

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His website is very interesting and he takes great photos. This book seems to be a lot better than all the other books written by foreigners here. Plus he still is in Tokyo.

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Also mixed feelings.

Sounds like another "expert" on local matters like Danny Choo, etc.

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I actually feel like these kind of books can be counter-productive because they focus on all the famous Japanese things, without concentrating any energy on the not-so-famous. Anyone who's lived in Japan has heard it all before; Anime, tea-ceremony, geisha girls, etc etc ad infinitum. But isn't Japan more than that? Isn't it a country that has more to offer the world? It feels to me like these books encourage Japan to rest on its laurels culturally when Japan is actually in deep poopoo right now. Japan needs to be invigorating and reinventing, trimming the fat and making big decisions to prevent its industry from falling further behind.

Stop looking at the past glories and focus on the next one, Japan!

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A geek overseas is a techy, a geek in japan is a social outcast... they don't translate.

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Wanna know more about the real Japan? Go off the beaten track? "Geek in Japan" will not help much in this regard. Instead come to JT here, spend some time (not less than 2 weeks suggested) reading it's contents, including comments posted by commentators' and the "JT experts (who are a actually commentators pretending to be experts)". By the time the 2 weeks are up..... ta da ! ..... you get to see the real Japan like no other, never ever seen in any tourist brochures

To name a few of the interests you get to "see" off the beaten track here :

There is the kind of candy or bubble gum with a hard to pronounce name, a tongue twister, that one can find on store shelves, goes to show that the Japanese are human after all to the kinds of beers being guzzled here to the angry and frustrated elderly man who kills his wife to the cluless, disillusioned and whinny husband who works long hours to death to the brain dead "cougars" keeping psycho young blood sucking lovers who abuse and kill their (cougars') children to learning from the "JT experts" on how to avoid getting detected when using love hotels or about learning to understand the many confusing ratings of radiation (be warned, by the time you get through them all, you might find your limited brain power already atomised) to the initiative-less populace who will only move when prodded and their unique dependence on invisible manuals to guide them to the mirror checking young-peahens / peacocks, who would not even be aware should a nuclear bomb were to drop beside them to the "vultures" and yaks who are only interested in building their family wealth and dynasties, not anyone or anything else to the regular local performances of the changing of prime ministers to the bitchy performances of "war games" between politicians to the comedy of errors and lies of a major power utility company's bunch of inept and burn-out executives (bet they are still looking for the lost copy of their invisible "how-to emergency procedure manual") to the happy marriage and/or dismissal of some entertainment artistes to the chameleon commentators here who go by a multitude of monikers, such as being a scotch egg, to tumbling dry, to being a klein2, to being a zenny master, to being a sioux chef, to being a iamacat, or a foxie, to being on the gogogo, etc, etc. to our JT's very strict moderator here who watches the comments posted here like a hawk .... etc etc etc etc

Too many to name all. Want to know more? Just visit JT and spend sone time here, that is, if you have the time to spare. However be warned, it is a "battle" ground here. So make sure to come prepared with your hard hat, errr... a gun if you have any, lots of humour, preseverance, a thick skin, plus a great capacity for telling fibs, and make sure that you are married, has a husband/wife, kids and a fierce MIL - btw make- believe ones are OK, that is, if you do not have real ones, and finally, bring along your Wikisqueak or Wiki assistant.

Here you will get the "inside" views of the real Japan. Unless of course, you would prefer to visit sites recommended by tourist brochures which honestly, are far safer sites to visit but are boring to death though. The choice is yours, either be bored to death, or be atomised by the "education" you gain here, both are just as fatal.

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"Wanna know more about the real Japan?"

Sqwak, sounds like you put quite a bit of thought into this.

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Sqwak.... loved it.

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Yeah.... that was pretty special. You've just reminded me why i'm bothering flying back in 6 hours after spending 3 months in England. Classic.

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I didn't mean to upset the author.

But after having lived here for 14yrs, I seen many books/authors that claim to have the insight(after a few short years). And most books covered all the same stuff, ie what sells and what people overseas want to hear/read. Example: Many covered Akihabara, etc for Manga & Anime but never got to the real centres, it took Danny Choo 7yrs to discover the real anime centre that predates akiba by 2+ decades.

Only found a few books that truly covered japan and none were widely advertised/marketed.

Granted haven't read the book in question but the blurb/ad above don't inspire confidence to me nor want me to pay for it.

So excuse me for being sceptical.

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Zenny11: Actually you are totally correct, besides the book Tokyo Vice (which read a little 1980's Japan) guides and books are normally based on 5 years experience in Japan and get it wrong or cover the obvious or general info. I guess if that is all you want then all good.

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Thx. Gogogo.

Just realised a mistake in my posting. 2+years should be 20+years.

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For me, the book that captured the feeling of being in Japan was "Dave Barry Does Japan". He's a humour columnist for an American newspaper, and only came here for a few weeks with his wife and son, but somehow it felt true to me.

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sqwak you remind me why i wanna go home,,,,in Japan we need to think waaaay too much!

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The line dividing journalism and sensationalism is thin, thin indeed - and that goes for this book as well as this site. Squawk, I hear you - but beneath all the hubbub of the Internets and the talentos continue the lives of remarkably normal people who feel and act like all normal people do the world over. Don't fall for the canard that what is screwy about Japan is uniquely screwy; no, it's universally screwy, it's just played out in a Japanese manner. I happen to enjoy it - there's less violence.

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@mrskit

Not only in Japan, where you need to think waaaay too much. It happens in every country in the world. This is normal. The only difference is, how their under-currents flow depend on their cultures, way of life, history, etc, etc. And how it affects our life, very much depends on whether we would prefer to close one eye and lead our life in bliss and full of surprises as our life flows along or pay attention and decide that we want some control over our own life. In my case, I am not an activist, but I do not live my life on automatic either. I live my life being aware of what is happening around me, so as to be mindful of how my life will be affected, and the course it takes.

Please do not take my above post seriously as to gauge the health of the nation. The post was written as a silly light-hearted banter, to liven up things here, that is all. The mood here on JT's board can sometimes be so serious that one can even cut through it with a knife.

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This book isn't supposed to be an in-depth guide to Japan. It is just supposed to portray some aspects of Japan mainly with photographs. He writes in a very good neutral way in his Spanish blog, it is refreshing to read it and isn't biased.

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I don't think the author is trying to educate the world on the intricacies and nuances of Japanese culture. I think he's simply trying to make a quick buck so good for him. I wish I thought of writing the book before he did!

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It will probably sell well overseas for those young people who haven't read Dave Barry, or seen Lost in Translation, etc. etc. etc. Why not?

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Nothing wrong with the book, but one in a long line of similar ones.

Wish him all the best.

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Hector did a good job with this book - lots of fun stuff in there.

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Sqwak, that was really funny!!!! Oh, i am jealous...maybe i should write my own book: "A Greek in Japan"...haha...

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Antonios M, put me on your pre-order list. I expect tons of Greek humor, a bit like in Μικρό έγκλημα. I bet you can do even better with those malakas around here. Get Sakis Rouvas to play the main part when you make the movie. I can see a super megalo hit.

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@ Zenny11: Nothing wrong with the book, but one in a long line of similar ones.

Just how many haiku and tanka are there, for example, about cherry blossoms, moons, pine trees, and abject longing?

So here is a book in an established oeuvre to which every writer brings his/her own audience. This writer is today. The long line yesterday. Also the new reader may or may not be aware of the long line.

Each writer also contributes nuances that are unique to his/her experience of Japan (in 9 blind men with an elephant style) which makes comparisons to one's own experiences interesting for their similarities and/or differences.

@ the sheriff: Rarely do writers make a quick buck. More than likely the book came out of a creative idea that the author was compelled to express. Here's to creative ideas well expressed wherever the come from and however often they are expressed.

I, for one, will read another poem about a moon or a blog/book about Japan just as I will eat again later today, and tomorrow, and after that.

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philly1,

What you say is true, but yet, not an effective argument against stirring s""t that is already over-stirred and tired out. The fact that there are ppl who haven't yet experienced the s""t is not a good reason to foist it on them.

(That said, not read the bk, may be a rare brilliant one. But sounds dumb.)

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