Japan books – 2009 Holiday season reading list

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    Christmas is right around the corner, so here’s a list of new and interesting Japan-related books you might want to give or receive this year.

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    Tokyo Vice
    Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
    Jake Adelstein’s tale of his life as a crime reporter for the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest newspaper. A must-read for anyone interested in the seedy world of yakuza, prostitution, drugs, human trafficking, and murder. For more details, watch Adelstein on 60 Minutes and the Daily Show.

    Available through: Amazon.com / Amazon.co.jp

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    botchan
    Botchan
    Matt Treyvaud, the blogger behind No-Sword, has made a new English language translation of Natsume Soseki’s classic novel about a school teacher:

    Tokyo-ite Botchan thinks teaching a bunch of high-school yokels in the sticks will be simple–after all, they’re essentially living in yesteryear. But Botchan soon learns that he is surrounded by schemers and tricksters and that the teaching job that should have been a walk in the park is more like a walk off a plank. Can he survive and make it back to civilization on Moral Fiber alone?

    Available through: Amazon Kindle store [read a sample here.]

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    badass
    Badass: A Relentless Onslaught of the Toughest Warlords, Vikings, Samurai, Pirates, Gunfighters, and Military Commanders to Ever Live
    If the title of this book hasn’t already convinced you to buy a copy, here’s an excerpt from the intro to its chapter about Miyamoto Musashi:

    Musashi’s life was like something out of a nitro-badass Clint Eastwood or Toshiro Mifune movie. This lone warrior would quietly roll into town, get involved in a bunch of crazy adventures, start trouble with the toughest dudes in town, slaughter everyone with a pulse, get a hot chick to fall in love with him, and then ride off into the sunset without stopping to say good-bye to the rotting piles of corpses he left in his wake…..

    The whole book is written in a similar badass style. Miyamoto and Tomoe Gozen serve as representatives of Japanese badassery.
    Available through: Amazon.com / Amazon.co.jp

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    book for otaku
    The Otaku Encyclopedia: An Insider’s Guide to the Subculture of Cool Japan
    This wouldn’t be a very good list if it didn’t have something for our otaku readers. This reference book should be handy for those who don’t want

    Available through: Amazon.com / Amazon.co.jp

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    otacool
    OTACOOL – Worldwide Otaku Rooms
    The impressive collection of otaku rooms featured at Figure.fm have been turned into a photo book. If otaku own coffee tables, this is probably the type of coffee table book they’d buy.
    Available through: Amazon.co.jp 

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    haiku handbook
    The Haiku Handbook 25th Anniversary Edition: How to Write, Teach, and Appreciate Haiku
    A new and improved version of Kodansha’s classic English language guide to writing haiku.
    Available through: Amazon.co.jp. [American release date: March 2010]

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    last letters from Attu
    Last Letters from Attu: The True Story of Etta Jones, Alaska Pioneer and Japanese POW
    Author Mary Breu tells us the story of her great aunt, a woman who had the misfortune of being a schoolteacher on the remote Alaskan island of Attu when it was captured by the Japanese army in 1942. She spent 39 months in captivity, most of it at prison camps in Japan.
    Available through: Amazon.com / Amazon.co.jp

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    just enough
    Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan
    Author Azby Brown takes a look at the environmentally friendly aspects of everyday life in Edo period Japan. This book is chock full of beautiful illustrations and stories. Great for anyone who wants to learn about how houses, farms, and cities functioned in pre-modern Japan.

    Available through: Amazon.co.jp [American release date: February 2010]

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    Tokyo Blues
    Tokyo Blues
    A collection of photos that celebrate Tokyo’s blue tarps:

    From construction sites and homeless settlements to cherry-blossom viewing parties in the park, the ubiquitous blue tarp is a constant of Japanese life and a bearer of multiple registers of meaning. In sixty-four images from the boulevards, alleys, sidestreets and interstitial spaces, Tokyo Blues explores these dramatically different contexts, returning something “we see too often, and then forget to see” to full, vivid visibility. The result is a book that provokes its readers to see the city around them with new eyes — whether that city is Tokyo, or their own.

    Available through: Do Projects [Free in PDF format]

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    Solaryman
    Solaryman : Why do you work?
    Yuki Aoyama’s Solaryman Project used photos of jumping salarymen to show us the super hero-like qualities of Japan’s white collar workers. Now the project has been released in book format.

    Available through: Pie Books

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    Got other suggestions? Please share some in the comments section of this post!

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