Travelers' Tales Giide: Japan

Travelers' Tales Guides: Japan
Various Authors

I have read so many books about people coming and visiting or living in Japan. At times I have even claimed to have read them all... and although I may be close, being honest, it is nearly impossible to finish them all, and if you did, there would be a new one published at the very moment you finished.

On a side note, if you ever have a chance to watch Robert Altman's The Player again, watch for the scene where the young writer pitches his story to Tim Robbins and as soon as he mentions that it's about an English teacher in Japan, Robbins is out the door, and before too long does what many Hollywood agents would like to do after such a pitch. (I tried to find a Youtube link for this, but haven't been able to so far).

But, despite such reputations, and despite them too often being true, there are so many amazing stories about Japan that it is actually difficult to pick the ones to feature here first. Some day I will touch on a few of the bad ones, but no need to start in the mud, but instead start with the best, and what could be better than the best, except for a compilations of so many of the greatest writers to take up the subject.

 Japan True Stories of Life on the Road is a wonderful collection of writing about Japan up until the publication around 1999. It's set up as a guidebook where you learn about the country through various writings, many taken from larger works and other taken in full from magazines and newspapers.

The selections are vast and encompass a variety of styles and voices. I had read about 1/2 previously, and have already bought 3 other books that I enjoyed the snippets of. This is the main reason I think this is a great first recommendation because reading it will begin your loop of conectivity, one where you read a work, enjoy it, and then read the works mentioned in the work, and the other work by the same author. Or, at least that's what I did. :)

With so many stories there's no use going into details, but of all the people I have yet to read, I was struck most by the writing of Pico Iyer, whose prose are especially skillful no matter what the topic.

I would say anyone living here would benefit from as well as enjoy this book and anyone not living here will be guided, not towards popular spots, but instead towards experiences, or things to watch out for.

Very highly recommended