It was by chance that I found Héctor García’s (aka Kirai from KiraiNet) A Geek in Japan.
In short, it’s an essencial book for every otaku, geek who likes Japan or is going to Japan, is interested in modern japanese culture, or simply wants to know more than the average cliché that’s always on the traditional media.
I’ll elaborate some more after the jump.
While I was on my average shopping spree on comics and mangas, I spotted the book randomly among others about japanese culture.
Found the title interesting. But it was only after I took a closer look that I found out it was written by the author of one of the blogs I read daily!
With a rather plain cover that simbolizes the content but don’t really catches your attention (I read the portuguese version… the english cover looks better imo), I admit that wasn’t expecting several of my questions and curiosities about modern japanese society to be answered there.
Structure begins with several historical and socio-cultural aspects, building a base so that the reader understands better the modern current culture.
It’s a book filled with photos and pics – several of them taken by the author himself, a real talent when capturing unexpected scenarios – , organized in sections that is pleasing to read either straight or as a per topic guide.
It’s easy to read, has lots of humor, easy to understand and has lots of personal experiences from Héctor when he decided to move to Japan. This is the main interesting point of the book: It was written not by someone who went to Japan for a vacation and became dazzled by strange or bizarre stuff, but by someone that really went through the experience of moving there, had a daily life, and was interested in researching a lot to know better and adapt to a new life there.
The only complaint I might have is relative to the font size chosen for the book. But this also gives more room for the information and the subject, and is really not that bad, so…
Subjects such as religion and belief systems in Japan, the basis which compose the japanese way of life, how is daily life there, what people watch on TV, how they relate to each other and several other interesting themes needed to understand animes, mangas, movies and for those who are going to Japan are in the book.
While A Geek in Japan doesn’t get too deep into any of the themes, it covers several aspectos of the modersn culture better than any other book I’ve ever read. Ends up building the perfect link between light illustrated reading for those seeking information without the necessity of loosing hours on books with specific themes, or pages and pages from Wikipedia.
The final chapters which covers Tokyo wards and essencial japanese cities, like a tourist guide for people with specific needs (otakus, culture seekers, tech freaks, etc), only made me want even more to get my stuff and do just like the book author did… move to this different and fascinating country.
I recommend it to everyone. It’s been really common to hear comments about several things Japan made up by prejudice, superficial information and bullsh*t made up by mainstream media. Blogs and TV shows paints Japan with sensationalist colors.
Asian countries are marked as perverted, strange, bizarre and other stupidities, often excluding cultural aspects and the daily life in a city such as Tokyo. Books like Héctor’s are a rarity.
Now, I’m left waiting for the translation of his next book: Momentos
- For those who are interested in his blog, don’t forget to check the series of posts about japanese sleeping in public spaces!!