- File Size: 775 KB
- Print Length: 314 pages
- Publication Date: May 30, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00KOYFXQS
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,301 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Journey of Self: Six Months in the Japanese Countryside Kindle Edition
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The isolation gave him time to think about his childhood, which strikes me as typical for a modern American kid. Parents divorced; step-father and large family of half-siblings; unhappy summers with volatile father; comfort and reassurance from loving paternal grandfather; lots of moves; a teenage loner; off to college and reinvention of self as friendly, confident party guy; first job working for father; realization that acting is the thing that excites him; move to L.A.
In L.A. he joined the army of show biz wanna-be's who support themselves with menial jobs while trying to break into the world's toughest industry. He had some success (mostly in writing and production.) He didn't want "some success." He wanted the stardom and celebrity that eluded him. The break-up of a long-term relationship sent him back to his family in Colorado and convinced him to accept a job teaching English in Arida, a coastal village in Japan. At 33, after years of intensive work, he owned a cell-phone and a back-pack full of clothes.
Even though he could communicate with few people in Arida, he quickly learned the facts of life in Japan. Everyone is early for everything every time. Having your credit card accepted is cause for celebration; most businesses demand cash. The Japanese don't DO vegetarian. Size twelve men's shoes are unobtainable. An attempt to buy a single banana will set off an international incident.
In spite of culture shock and isolation, he loved living in the Japanese countryside where the pace of life is slow and crime practically non-existent. The Japanese were welcoming and pleased at his interest in their history and culture. Wearing a traditional costume and helping to carry a heavy shrine through a long, back-breaking day earned him the admiration of the men. Best of all, he was finally a celebrity. In a rural area where westerners are unknown, a young, handsome, 6'2" American male was enough to make middle-aged women giggle like school girls, while the real school girls acted like George Clooney had hit town. He began to understand the Americans, English, and Aussies who came for brief teaching jobs and became lifers.
He also began to see the flip side of Japanese culture: the high suicide rates, the foreigner-hating Nationalists, the family pressure on young people to conform to traditional expectations even when it means giving up their dreams.
Mostly he learned about himself. The celebrity that he had sought for so many years was unsatisfying. There's nothing wrong with chasing your dreams as long as they're the right dreams for you.
This is a beautiful book. It's well-written and the author is very likable. I hope he writes a follow-up book. I would love to know the rest of the story.
All things Japan fascinate me and always have. And the more rural the better. I envy the experience that the author had during his time in Japan as an English teacher. He portrays himself as an outgoing and charismatic person. Characters that I believe that one must possess in order not just to travel, but to "fit in".
I found myself googling all of the towns, temples, train stations and much more as I read so that I could formulate a mental picture and join the journey from afar!
My son who is finishing college has always expressed an interest in traveling to Japan to teach English. I called and told him to read Journey of Self to learn from a person who has been there and done it well.
What I really enjoyed most about this book is the descriptive scenery in all the adventures that Nate had. I learned a lot about Japan, its culture and people through Nate's story.
The only thing that bothers me is the fact he made no effort whatsoever to learn Japanese. Aside from "where is" and "thank you", he was at a loss for words unless someone translated for him. C'mon... if you're going to live somewhere for six months, make an effort!
We all know what it's like to be "at a crossroads" in life and we often come away from it with valuable lessons. Riding alongside Nate on his journey I couldn't help but delight in his triumphs and empathize during his challenges. I enjoyed this story immensely and on a few different levels.
Barbara A. Whittington, author
Ezra and Other Stories
Dear Anne: Love Letters from Nam
Top international reviews
Great writing and definitely worth a read!
Look forward to reading more adventures!