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Culture Shock! Japan: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette (Culture Shock! A Survival Guide to Customs & Etiquette) Paperback – November 1, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
I will order what I hope is the Bramble book, and hope that Amazon straightens out this mess.
I was immediately thrown off by the less-than-clear image on the cover, and flipping through I saw that all the pictures were in black-and-white. I almost put the book back of the shelf, thinking that it must have been written in the 60s or 70s and that a good deal of the information would have changed and be out-of-date. Don't let the lousy graphic quality throw you off, though; this book was only published in 2005.
This book is not a travel guide, nor is it really a memoir. The author drew upon his own experiences of living in Japan and told some amusing anecdotes, yes, but this wasn't a book about him.
Unlike travel guides, which do a good job of teaching you how to properly order sushi or how to hail a cab, this book prepares a person for living in Japan, not merely visiting. It covers things that travel guides won't, such as how to pay your bills, or how to get by at the office. As such, I learned a remarkable amount about daily life in Japan, from a westerner's perspective, that travel guides and memoirs often don't speak of. Travel guides assume you won't be there long enough, and memoirs assume that some tidbits would be too boring for the reader.
Thankfully, I'm the kind of anthro-nut who appreciates all the scraps of information I can gather.
I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone. It doesn't have enough information in it to appeal to a very wide audience. But for those who are curious about day-to-day tasks in Japan, or for those who are planning to move there for work, I definitely recommend this one. It may not be a definite resource, but it's certainly a big help, and will teach you things you probably never even thought to ask about.
Sean has a very acerbic wit, and most of what he says and writes is tongue-in-cheek. I also point you to his Japanese WIFE, daughter and son, whom I refer to as Mini-Gaijin-Me, as evidence that he most likely doesn't hate the Japanese. Sean is a lifelong Monty Python fan, just like myself, and his humor reminds me of it at some times. And yes, some of the things one sees in Japan are laughable by American standards (and vice versa, like our inability to work together when times get tough, at least since, say, 1945).
If he didn't like living there or interacting with the people of Japan, I don't think he'd have stayed there for 15 years. Just a guess.
The book (since this is a book review, after all) is well-written, typical of the way Sean describes things -- with a laugh waiting around every corner -- and covers a great variety of things. In having the chance to speak with him over the Christmas break about his work on it, I see just how much time he has devoted to explaining and describing the experience of a roundeyed galoot in the Land of the Rising Sun.
It's worth the time and money. Of course, having an autographed copy might make me a tad biased, but if this book stunk, I'd certainly tell you so. It's 240 or so pages of interesting and unseful information on what it's like to live in Japan as a westerner. While geared toward the British by its verbiage, it's still clear, understandable, and, as I've said, a good read. I finished it in two just-before-bed sessions, and was a real page-turner. Birnbaum sucks. Go Bramble!
PS - A note to Sean: I *WILL* bat Pee Wee Reese third, whether you like it or not. Nyaah!!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this book to be very informative and would recommend reading it to anybody who doesn't know much about Japan. Read morePublished on January 24, 2013 by Lennartz1
This *is* in reference to the P. Sean Bramble version. It's awful. I don't know why they would hire someone so disdainful to write a book about another culture. Read morePublished on August 21, 2006 by NYC213