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This Japanese Life. Paperback – July 25, 2013
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About the Author
Eryk Salvaggio was an American newspaper editor in Bangor, Maine before teaching English in Japan with the JET Program. He lived in Fukuoka City from 2010-2013, writing a blog, This Japanese Life, about Japanese culture and the tiny anxieties of being an expatriate. The site was named one of the best Japan Blogs by Tofugu and was spotlighted by The Japan Times. Salvaggio has written for McSweeney's, The Japan Times, Tofugu and Kulturaustausch. His work as a visual artist has been covered in The New York Times and elsewhere. He currently lives in San Francisco.
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Top customer reviews
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What sets this book apart from others about Japan is that it offers a new perspective to residents who have lived there for a long time, whilst remaining accessible to the inexperienced.
The prose is funny, articulate and compelling. Each article offers real insight into the Japanese mindset in a way that is very rare in books written on Japan, where, too often, authors resort to sweeping generalisations or glib stereotyping. This Japanese Life resounds with a compassion and humility in its approach that has potential to make even long term residents of Japan question their own assumptions and reactions to their day to day experiences.
This is a book about Japan, not about the author. From the outset he writes in a way that leaves no doubt that he has grasped the fact that Japan is not all about him. His personal journey is clear, as is the learning process he has been through, by both living and writing reflectively. The warmth of Salvaggio's approach leaves the reader inspired to look more deeply into cultural practices in their own lives and explore more to gain understanding.
This Japanese Life is in turns humorous, insightful, thought provoking and moving. I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Japan, to those who still marvel at the strangeness of the place years into their own journeys there, and, even more, to those who have forgotten the sense of wonder that they had when they first arrived. It may just help them rediscover it.
This poor author, hired to go to Japan and help teach the universally-required English cirriculum in a Japanese high school, gradually and painfully discovers how profoundly out of place he is there. Luckily, he's very articulate and very able to understand that he is, as it were, experiencing a major cultural conflict. As so frequently happens in the world, conflict reveals truth better than sympathy.
When I finished this book I understood better than ever before how different life in Japan is from life in the USA. I must say, even though I love Japanese media and art of all kinds, and respect their ancient culture, and even though I can clearly see the warts of our own culture, I now know that I wouldn't last 6 months there (except as a tourist maybe).
For a more sympathetic view of Japan, which also notices its warts but manages to endure and rise above them, see any book by Donald Richie, a guy from Kansas who went to Japan as a soldier in the American occupation in 1945, and chose to live there for the rest of his life.
So in this context it probably doesn't matter through prism of what culture to look for more answers in life than you had looked before.
And there's a lot of uncertainties of normal life as if you were suddenly woke up on the other planet.
It'd be quite enjoyable but easy reading for those who looking for a story about a guy faced himself with overwhelming new world but not being bored in the process.
Most recent customer reviews
However, I think that he was maybe not the best person to go live alone in Japan.Read more
I bought the book because I read the blog.Read more