Thursday, June 26, 2008

Good Books about Japan

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon- Not like the movie. This is the diary of a noblewoman in Kyoto in Heian Japan (990 AD). Fascinating descriptions, beautiful, trenchant lists.

250 Essential Japanese Kanji Characters Vol 1 (Kanji Text Research Group) - a very useful book to learn how to read the symbols around you in Japan.

Japanese for Busy People I: Romanized Version includes CD (Japanese for Busy People) - a good series of language texts.

36 Views of Mount Fuji: On Finding Myself in Japan - a college professor's experience in Japan. Funny and insightful.

Importing Diversity: Inside Japan's JET Program - a sociological study of the impact of the JET Program, which brings about 6000 foreign English teachers into this homogenus society.

Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan- the story of one Assistant Language Teacher's year in rural Japan.

The Donald Richie Reader: 50 Years of Writing on Japan. Just an introduction to Richie's writings on Japan. He's been there since the 50's writing all the while.

A Lateral View: Essays on Culture and Style in Contemporary Japan- more Donald Richie.

Little Adventures in Tokyo: 39 Thrills for the Urban Explorer- a guide that features Kennedy's favorite places in Japan. It's like the insider tips from a good friend who knows and loves Tokyo. I did some of the adventures and they were just as described.

Snow Country- the real life of the average geisha, not a glossy Memoirs of a Geisha.

More Than a Native Speaker, Revised Edition, an Introduction to Teaching English Abroad - a must for those going to teach in Japan or anywhere.

A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel - a wild post-modern adventure in northern Japan.

The Elephant Vanishes: Stories - more of Murakami's jazzy, modern (post-modern?) fiction. Some short stories.

The Broken Bridge: Fiction from Expatriates in Literary Japan- a collection of short stories by expats in Japan.

Speed Tribes: Days and Night's with Japan's Next Generation- a look at the darker side of Japan. Skip if you've had your fill of this genre.

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