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Speed Tribes: Days and Night's with Japan's Next Generation Paperback – Bargain Price, September 13, 1995

47 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, September 13, 1995
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Greenfeld, the half-Japanese, half-Caucasian American Tokyo correspondent for The Nation, has written about a little-known, seamy subculture in Japan that became more prominent with the collapse of the "bubble" economy of the 1980s. In 12 compelling chapters, Greenfeld covers the grimier aspects of Tokyo's urban society: organized crime, the nightclub scene, motorcycle gangs (the eponymous bosozoku), computer hackers, ultra-right-wing nationalists, and the porn industry. His focus on individuals brings a sense of immediacy as his high-speed narrative highlights the flaws in Japan's society without bashing it. Steven Wardell's forthcoming Rising Sons and Daughters: Life Among Japan's New Young (Plympton Pr. International) focuses on teens in Kyushu and presents a more positive picture of their lives. These two books show Japan as a complex society much more like ours than people may have realized. The absence of an index makes this more suitable for most public libraries.
Katharine L. Kan, Aiea P.L., Hawaii
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Americans duped into believing that Japan has few social problems outside of political corruption, horrendous university entrance exams, and the suppression of women into lifelong menial jobs and unsatisfying lives as caretakers for their husbands will be shocked by some of Greenfeld's revelations: widespread methamphetamine use among youth, a booming pornographic industry (as a result of Japan's foray into sexual freedom), and a skyrocketing juvenile larceny rate. Organized crime is a problem also; the Yakuza is being replenished with disillusioned youth from the country's youth gangs, and its proliferation on the Japanese mainland and its rapid expansion overseas are frightening. The "speed tribes," or Bosozoku, is a catch-all term that refers to the plethora of diverse youth subcultures that have spawned as a result of Japan's famous "bubble economy." Japan's obsession with things Western intensified during the boom in the 1980s (now predicted to crash sometime in the 1990s) and is proving disastrous to its social fabric. A day in the life of a computer hacker, the "hostess" industry (with few remnants of the geisha tradition that preceded it), and a motley crew of unconventional Japanese youth as they go about their unconventional and sometimes reckless lives are some of Greenfeld's other subjects. Fascinating reading, will make many Americans rethink stereotypes they may have about the Japanese. Kevin Roddy --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (September 13, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060926651
  • ASIN: B0046LUDAQ
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,194,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of seven books, including the novel Triburbia, the much-acclaimed memoir Boy Alone; NowTrends; China Syndrome; Standard Deviations; and Speed Tribes. Greenfeld's writing has appeared in Harper's, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Best American Short Stories and The PEN/O Henry Prize Stories among other publications. A veteran editor and writer for The Nation, TIME, and Sports Illustrated, Karl has also been a frequent contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek, The New York Times, GQ, Vogue, Conde Nast Traveler, Playboy, Men's Journal, The Washington Post, Outside, Wired, Details, and Salon. Born in Kobe, Japan, Karl has lived in Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo and TRIBECA.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Christopher C. Dahl, SSgt USAF on August 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
"I realized that the Japan I had been writing about as a reporter and magazine editor had nothing to do with the Japan I was living. I had overlooked the gritty, sexy, real Japan" The dazzling variety of new youth subcultures and rich pop cultures emerging as a result of the Bubble Economy prosperity". (Greenfeld, prologue, xiv) In his book, "Speed Tribes: Days and Nights with Japan's Next Generation", author, Karl Taro Greenfeld has unearthed a fascinating cluster of Japanese youth that he refers to as "Speed Tribes", a direct translation of the Japanese "Bosozoku", youthful delinquent Japanese gangs, notoriously characterized by their noisy hopped-up motorcycles and turbo powered hot rods. Greenfeld asserts that hidden deep beneath Japan's traditional "kimono-clad" skin exists the discontent rebellious "real" Japan, lacking its values in the wake of the "Baburu" economy. Greenfeld implies that Japan is caught in the midst of a subcultural revolution. After a five-year plunge deep into the heart of Tokyo's cultural subterrain, he emerged with a line on its components; the Yakuza (mafia-types), political right wing Uyoku, computer hacking Otaku, to name a few. He illustrates how each component plays its own role in the exploitation of Japan's generation gap. Greenfeld makes the case that a growing generation gap is irrefutable. "The twenty-five million Japanese between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five are a far cry from their generational predecessors, the shinjinrui" (baby boomers) he says. (Greenfeld, prologue, xiv) He points out that because it is no longer fashionable to think politically in Japan, many Todai Sei (Tokyo University students) lack any interest in politics whatsoever.Read more ›
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By James R. Hoadley on December 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is enjoyable to read. It presents a side of Japan that is almost unheard of, the disenfranchised. Told as a series of first-person vignettes, with each person similar but distinct. This is the raw underbelly of Japan, violent, disatisfied with life, desperately seeking for an unknown goal. A quick look at the domestic Japanese news reveals that there is a serious crisis of identity occuring, and this is one of the few books that reveals the true roots of the problem. In my time in Japan, I have known people like the characters in this book, and in general the stories ring true. The only thing which prevents me from giving this book 5 stars is that the few places that the Japanese language is used in this book, it is odd or even incorrect. Still, the stories seem to provide an accurate insight into the thinking and lifestyles of many young Japanese.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Bergel on January 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
As someone who has lived, studied, and worked in Tokyo, I have come in cursory contact with many of the types of people described in this book. While Japanophiles and purists will find much to pick at, Greenfeld has added a very necessary facet to the general public's image of modern Japan. Just as a Japanese person might want to understand our hippie, punk, gang, sex, and drug subcultures to get a fuller understanding of the US, so too would non-Japanese be drawn to this book. The stripping away some of the more annoying stereotypes and sugar-coating of Japan is a big enough pay off in my mind to put up with the inaccuracies.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By hideisalive on October 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
First off let me address the reviews accusing this book of being fiction. Most of them don't even say what parts are fiction. It's absolutely impossible that ALL of it is fiction, in fact, I only found out about this book because there's a chapter in it about my favorite band. That band ZI:KILL? Yes they really did exist. Yes they made it big with their album "In The Hole" and finished the big tour with a show at the Budokan. AND YES, they had record label drama. Their final album came out just 8 months after their story concludes. By early 1994 they were gone. I think they played their last concert in January 1994. This book came out October 1994.

The Japanese music industry is one of the most secretive things around. The fact that he accessed this, leads me to believe that he didn't just make the rest of the stuff up. If he had just made up a bunch of crap about ZI:KILL their label would have sued him probably.

SECONDLY. Most of these reviews date from 2000 to the present. ZI:KILL's Budokan concert took place in late 1992, and as mentioned the book came out 1994. So all these stories date from 1993 and before. Unless you were involved in youth speed tribes 1990-1993 how on earth can you sit there in 2002, 2005, 2010 etc and accuse the man of being a liar? Ridiculous.

Early 90s Japan was faaaar different then this one. We had the lost decade in between then and now, remember?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By e1x56u$*w# on May 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Essential reading for anyone brainwashed by the endless images of idyllic and serene temple gardens and kimono-clad women which seem to populate every Japanese calendar and book produced for foreign consumption.
This is the real Japan, albeit with focus on some of the juicier topics. From motorcycle gangs to porn stars, surfer dudes to the teenagers gropingly losing their virginity upstairs from the family sushi shop, this book takes you inside, to the realms not usually shown to outsiders.
Greenfeld has a great eye for detail and I found myself giving a wry smile at things like the ultra-nationalist youth who hates foreigners and foreign things but wears only expensive Italian designer suits.
The only minor flaw I could detect was a tinge of bitterness when Greenfeld describes the attitudes of young Japanese women, perhaps the result of an unhealed personal wound?
Well, don't want to spoil too much for you, so just let me say get it! This is a great book!
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