Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Book Review: How To Japan by Colin Joyce

I went to Jurong Regional Library yesterday and came back with a bunch of books about Japan, so the next few forseeable posts will be book reviews. The first book was one that I wasn't looking for (as were most of the books) but I don't regret borrowing at all. Quite the opposite in fact.

How To Japan is written by ex-Japan Corrospondent for The Daily Telegraph Colin Joyce. It's actually a series of articles about Japan. I actually like almost all his articles but here are a few of my favourites:

Japanese is Easy (Chapter 2): Here he reminds me about the lack of number, gender or case for nouns, lack of definite and indefinite articles, and the relative simplicity of adjectives and verbs. I'm going to have to keep this in mind the next time I'm silently complaining about how I don't understand a single world of Japanese. He follows up with some Japanese phrases in Chapter 3: The Joys of Japanese.

Every Day is April Fool's (Chapter 9.5): this is an article where you should take the opposite of every statement if you want the truth. It's really hilarious though, because it pokes fun of the misconceptions that many people have.

The two chapters about Tokyo: Loving an Unlovely City (Chapter 10) and Let's Tokyo (Chapter 11). Loving an Unlovely City tells me that Tokyo is ugly, but then points out the small pleasures that make it so lovely. I look forward to experiencing that(: Let's Tokyo is an alternative guide Tokyo, as he tries not to parrot the guidebook. Consider it a small sign pointing the way to explore Tokyo. And can someone please remind me to check out Toden tram (if it still exists) because "it seems to run almost exclusively through the parts of Tokyo that retain a feel of the past."

And finally, Confessions of a Tokyo Correspondent (Chapter 14). It certainly explains why almost all news coming out of Japan seems to be either about robots or some wacky thing about their society, making them seem completely unlike the rest of the world.

The original book was written in Japanese and published in 2006, while the English edition was published in 2009. Some information might be dated but well, I'll find out when I get there. There were some grammar errors, but the book is so good that I can live with them (this is a rare occurance).