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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

3.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Newly updated and redesigned in 2005!

About the Author

P. Sean Bramble was born in Cambridge, Maryland, and grew up there and in La Cañada-Flintridge, California. After graduating from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore with a degree from the Writing Seminars department, he wrote for two Maryland newspapers, The Daily Banner and The Daily Times, and a computer newsletter, The Report on IBM. Moving to Japan courtesy of the JET Program in 1992, he has taught English there ever since, apart from a stint teaching in Shanghai, China. Stricken with writer’s block for approximately 10 years, he has so far managed to overcome it with occasional pieces, including commentary for The New Republic. Culture Shock! Japan is his first book. Mr. Bramble lives in Dazaifu, Japan, with his wife and daughter. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Culture Shock! A Survival Guide to Customs & Etiquette
  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558689354
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558689350
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,103,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Woodyard on March 21, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Note P. Sean Bramble's comment that his authorship of this book began in 2004. Amazon has scrambled his edition with what seems to be a previous edition by Rex Shelley in 1992. The images and the "look inside" links take you back and forth to wrong web pages... The Shelley book, which seems to be the one to avoid, is ISBN 1558680713.

I will order what I hope is the Bramble book, and hope that Amazon straightens out this mess.
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Format: Paperback
If you're visiting Japan and want to see beyond the ferro-concrete castle replicas and the pools of vomit on Yurakucho metro station, this book is the one to open your eyes. Whether you're an interested tourist or a longer stay gaijin trying to save money on your shocking shaken (car inspection), Bramble's insight and cutting sarcasm bring the whole experience humorously to life. Don't go to Japan without it.
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Format: Paperback
I'm sure by this point, you all know about my obsession with Japan, and my desire to learn more about the culture. So when I got the chance to read this book, I couldn't pass it up.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Having known Sean Bramble since 1989, when he got me hooked on Strat-o-Matic Baseball over the July 4 weekend as my co-worker for a newspaper in Maryland, I can safely say that anyone who thinks Sean does not like Japan, or the Japanese, is dead wrong.

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!!
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