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A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony Paperback – June 10, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 126 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"While not a traditional guide book, A Geek in Japan certainly makes a reader want to hop on a plane to experience everything firsthand." —San Francisco Book Review

"Comprehensive and well informed, A Geek in Japan covers a wide array of topics in short articles accompanied by numerous photographs, providing a lively digest of the society and culture of Japan." —Japan Today

"Filled with a load of photos and information about Japan—a must read." —Danny Choo, Tokyo entrepreneur and owner of www.dannychoo.com

"Hector Garcia's A Geek in Japan is a lightweight but enjoyable romp through modern Japanese culture, seen through the eyes of its writer, an amazingly inquisitive young Spaniard living in Tokyo." —Lonely Planet

"Everyone who is interested in Japan will find this book fascinating." —Larry Ellison, cofounder and CEO, Oracle Corporation

"One of the funniest and yet most accurate descriptions of modern Japanese culture that I've ever seen. Highly recommended!" —Joichi Ito, director, MIT Media Lab

"Hector and I share a deep interest and affection for all things Japanese. But in my case, I only get to enjoy Japan on my business trips. Back in Spain, I like to keep in touch. And that I do reading kirainet, 'A geek in Japan.' Now you can do the same. And in book format. Enjoy!" —Martin Varsavsky, entrepreneur, founder of Fon and Safe Democracy Foundation

"The geek in Japan of the title is of course Garcia. He has written a sharp and concise guide to Japan. It is comprehensive and well done. Among many topics, A Geek in Japan covers traditional culture, history, character, work, society, manga & anime, music, movies & television, Tokyo, and visiting the rest of Japan. This is a book by and for Japanophiles. Each section comes with photos, sidebars, and the knowledge of a long-time Japanhand. Very well done." —Japan Visitor

About the Author

Hector Garcia was born in Spain, in 1981. After earning his MS in software engineering and working for CERN in Switzerland, he moved to Japan, where he worked on voice recognition software and later for Digital Garage, developing the technology needed for Silicon Valley startups like Twitter and Technorati to enter the Japanese market. He has been living in Tokyo since 2004 and is the creator of the popular blog www.kirainet.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Paperback with Flaps edition (June 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4805311290
  • ISBN-13: 978-4805311295
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Aaron S. Berman on May 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An unabashed Japanophile, I've collected a fair number of books on the country over the years, searching for that one book that would offer both decent photography and meaty content. While that's a lot to ask, I think "A Geek in Japan" comes the closest to fitting the bill.

Die-hard Japanophiles probably won't encounter too much in the way of new information here -- the strength of the book is purely in its presentation. Within the pages of this slim volume, you get hundreds of color photos of every aspect of Japan, every one of them dynamic, without the usual "travelogue" pics so many books have resorted to. I was particularly pleased to see the author has taken the "little bit of everything" approach, which means you can open a page at random and find something interesting to read. This isn't a single narrative, but rather made up of page-long sections covering everything from food to Japanese company dynamics. Bonus points for a two-page spread that demonstrates the evolution of "Densha Otoko" from anonymous forum posting to full-fledged Japanese multimedia phenomenon.
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I truly enjoyed this book and I think it's going to delight anyone with an interest in Japan. It reads as a true personal experience of the country, not another tourist guide or brochure, it includes gorgeous photographs (taken by the author) and even though the word "geek" is on the title, Mr. Garcia strikes a difficult balance in the subjects he portraits, ranging from ancient traditions to the latest trends without forgetting the craziest Akihabara antics.
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When I picked up "A Geek in Japan" I didn't know what to expect, nor did I particularly expect to find a book I'd enjoy or find useful, but I was wrong. I was preparing for a three week trek across Japan and was reading all I could get my hands on. Despite not being into manga, anime, or (especially) J-Pop, I found this book to be interesting and topical. García is a brilliant young writer (he has a MS in Software Engineering and worked for CERN…) and is great at breaking ties with stiflingly stodgy travel guide sensibilities and writing about contemporary subjects in a contemporary way. The photographs and illustrations are excellent, and his viewpoints are intriguing; most of all his advice is sage and worth paying attention to. I found Chapter 11, "Visiting Tokyo" to be among the most useful and relevant things I read in preparation for my time spent there. I actually carried this book with me to Japan (and home) but I got the most use out of it preparing for the trip.

If you are looking for a traditional guidebook to Japan, Fodor's has an excellent offering (I have theirs too,) but if you want a more youthful guide to contemporary Japan that is entertaining while still being useful, "A Geek in Japan" will be certain to pique your interest.
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A geek in Japan is not a travel guide, but rather a way to immerse you in the Japanese culture, and therefore an essential read for anyone that really wants to enjoy a trip to Japan or learn about this wonderful country.

The author is an amazing photographer, and the whole book is populated with beautiful photos illustrating the different aspects of the Japanese culture. This fun, dynamic and colorful presentation manages to bring this book to life. You will find yourself jumping from section to section looking at fun pictures, and every time you start reading one of the sections it becomes so engaging that you will have to read it all. The narrative is fresh, fun and easy to read, while at the same time providing very complete and accurate description of a myriad of topics from the ancient traditions to the modern popular culture, and plenty of tips for travelers.

I got this book a couple of days ago, it is such a page turner than I went through it almost non-stop, and I find myself reading again sections I like and looking at the pictures on them. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
This isn't a Fodor's guide in any universe. This is a current, cultural cross section of Japan. I have read many books on Japan, and this is among my favorites. Despite not having any earth shattering new information, it is well put together and very engaging. Despite the repeated Naruto references... (Actually four I think). It is definitely geared towards a younger crowd, though not really only for teenagers. I feel like the target audience is about 16 to 36. Young folks looking to learn more about other cultures and hopefully travel there one day.

The earlier sections discuss the history of Japan briefly. It's actually fun. A brief mention is made of the shogunate and all, but the author quickly moves on to the more interesting historical aspects. We read about the four writing systems used in Japan. We also look at Ukiyo-e (simply one of my personal favorite art styles), martial arts, calligraphy, religion (Shinto is really interesting), and traditions such as the tea ceremony and de-bunking myths about Geisha.

The heart of the book discusses current culture and society in Japan, from working folks, to younger folks. The author discusses the interesting after hours 'work party' atmosphere prevalent in Japan. He also makes mention of schooling and the intense competition for entrance into prestigious high schools and universities. We also read about the intense pressure put on these school kids.

A lot of content is spent on modern pop culture in Japan. By modern, I mean post WW2. We look at the history of manga and anime. One section is dedicated to current music in Japan and mentions bands such as L'arc en Ciel and Orange Range.

The final section covers briefly some of the sights to see when visiting Japan.
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