🌸Japanese Customer : Books about Japan


Showing posts with label Books about Japan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books about Japan. Show all posts

June 19, 2020

Japanese Customer: How do Japanese customers keep their beds fresh?

Airing Futon - "Futon's absorb body moisture.Air them on the balcony on sunny days"

Source: Japanese Family and Culture
JTB, 4th Edition, 2000,
ISBN: 4533020208, Page 51

Learn more about Japanese culture

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Learn about study in Japan at Study Abroad Japan

Japanese Customer: What is year end "osoji" and why is it done?

Year end osoji - "just before the New Year the entire nation goes through a cleaning ritual,
getting rid of the years dirt and grime"

Source: Japanese Family and Culture
JTB, 4th Edition, 2000,
ISBN: 4533020208, Page 49

Buy the book

Learn about study in Japan at Study Abroad Japan

January 29, 2020

Book Review - Newcomer by Keigo Higashino

Keigo Higashino’s novel is based in Tokyo in the summer and reveals a sinister secret. Detective Kaga a newcomer to the area along with a variety of colourful and eccentric characters he comes across in the murder investigation of a recently divorced woman who is found strangled in her apartment in Kodenmacho a suburb of Tokyo. In between iced coffees in traditional coffee shops, pastry stores and old stores that sell wooden spinning tops we gain insights into the crime. 

Best quotes


“ You know that old saying about how people who don’t work have no right to eat” p3

Mother in Law/daughter in law

“ At first Satoko was willing to overlook Naho’s various domestic missteps, but gradually they started to get on her nerves. Nothing her granddaughter did was right. Satoko criticized her and sometimes barged in and took control of things. Stubborn and quick-tempered, she had no idea how to avoid hurting Naho’s feelings” p9

Doctor/Sickness/Hiding information

“ The doctor admitted to issuing two different medical certificates, one listing your mothers actual condition, the other listing a false one” page 33


“ I’m a true born Tokyoite. I’d rather die than break a promise!” p35.


“ Shuhei had to sprinkle the sidewalk outside the restaurant…..People who choose to come to a restaurant like ours take atmosphere seriously. They love the sight of an apprentice sprinling water from a bucket” p41


 “What are you standing around daydreaming for? Can’t you see the glass of that gentleman over by the window is empty?” p44

Apprentice Chef

“ Katsuya, another apprentice who had started two years before him, had only just recently been permitted to help out with the cooking. Shuhei would have to put up with his present duties for a while yet” p44

Ningyo-yaki /Japanese sweet made of pastry and red bean paste

“ Ningyo-yaki, were small snack cakes, baked in moulds – a Tokyo specialty” p47

Graduate recruitment

“ Recently, some companies have even been cancelling job offers to new graduates before they start” p227


“ If she was talking to someone she knew well, then she would be very relaxed and informal. Conversely, if she was dealing with someone, she didn’t know well, she could be very proper an polite” p303

Other Reviews

"Classic yet inventive... Newcomer will appeal most to fans of classic detective stories by the likes of Agatha Christie and Georges Simenon. Higashino’s intricate plotting and a vivid setting come together in an absorbing mystery that will leave readers guessing until the very end." ―Bookreporter

"Kaga, a modern day Poirot, thinks even further outside the box than his Belgian predecessor, to the great delight of mystery aficionados" ―Bookpage

"Delightful... Fans of classic whodunits should introduce themselves to this newcomer immediately." ―Shelf Awareness

"Exotic, original... highly recommended." ―Japan Times

"Newcomer is a cerebral puzzler's delight that, like Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency mysteries, offers a thought-provoking take on the tension between modernity and traditional culture and leaves a trail of mended relationships in its wake." ―Booklist

"Rewarding... [readers] will appreciate Higashino's graceful prose and willingness to push the limits of the genre." ―Library Journal

"Clever and charming." ―The Sunday Times (London)

August 31, 2019

Book Review Real World by Natsuo Kirino

Book Review -  Real World by Natsuo Kirino

Book Blurb 

''In a crowded Tokyo suburb, four teenage girls indifferently wade their way through a hot, smoggy summer. When one of them, Toshi, discovers that her next-door neighbor has been brutally murdered, the girls suspect the killer is the neighbor's son. But when he flees, taking Toshi's bike and cell phone with him, the four girls get caught up in a tempest of dangers that arise from within them as well as from the world around them. Psychologically intricate and astute, Real World is a searing, eye-opening portrait of teenage life in Japan unlike any we have seen before.''

Pages: 208

Best quotes

''When I was young there were times I wanted to kill my old man and some of my teachers - but I never thought of killing my mum''  p29.

''Whenever I ran across her at the station, she'd nod a hello, but for some reason, I couldn't nod back. I know you might think that's no big deal, but I started to feel inferior to her'' p77

'' The women who gave birth to me, raised me, ordered me around, yelled at me, turned me into a sex maniac, who complained all the time, was dead'' p85.

''Early on the morning of August tenth, our home phone rang. It had to be either a salesman or a relative. Other people would just call each of our cellphones, which made a phone call coming in the morning all the more ominous'' p188

Natsuo Kirino captures the heartbeat of real urban Japan the fear, anxiety, paranoia and deep cultural mindset that sets the scene for all actions. In this novel, she fully exposes the different worlds of men and women that is molded by different values, beliefs, and customs. In fact, they are so far apart it seems crazy how they could ever connect. 

The pressure of trying to be perfect, associating with brand names, showing off, competing with your neighbours, putting up with crazy rules that make no sense and the boredom of life as a teenager with no money, living with your parents and having to follow all their weird practices explodes in violence during the stifling high humidity of a Japanese summer. Mole the teenage nickname of Toshi's neighbor gets pushed by his Mum just one step too far, he reacts with his metal baseball bat and the outcome is tragic. 

He then runs and Toshi and her three girlfriends help him out while he is on the run. Natsuo Kirino digs deep into the culture to reveal the fears, insecurities and broken thought processes that fill teenagers heads when they have to deal with something serious and important like death and murder. They avoid it and focus on the fun like kids do.

Raw, gritty and edgy, a  story that one can imagine is straight out of the newspaper but filled in with a background that you never get, as it only runs for a few days and disappears into oblivion with all the other crazy crimes.

August 01, 2019

Book Review Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto

Book Review Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto

This book is a collection of six short stories including Newlywed, Lizard, Helix, Dreaming of Kimchee, Blood and Water, A strange tale from down by the river.

Although they are all separate stories one gets the impression from reading that they relate to the same characters even though this is not clearly stated that is the feeling you get. Like the writer was in the same mood and all the stories are somehow linked.  Translated from the Japanese by Ann Sherif we are lucky to get deep glimpses into the psyche of characters, people, places and events.

Favourie quotes

"She told me that she didn't have an aversion to people per se, but simply didn't want to see anyone else after hours. I knew how she felt"p33

"She seemed like a creature of a different species, one who lives quietly in the dark" p35

"the more she gave to others, the more she struggles. Her burden grew heavy by the day. This type of guilt is so fundamental" p41

"Like plants in a greenhouse, we depended on each other, but neither of us enjoyed the feelings of release or openness that one would wish from such a relationship" p43

"Akira didn't like dealing with people at all, so I did it for him" p102

"I am the only one in the world who knows what's best for me. I'm just here, deciding things I need to decide for myself" p113

"I might have been intimidated by his fastidiousness and fled" p130

"I feel like I need to shake you and tell you about the realities of marriage. It's not just some pretty dream, you know" p135

"But I sometimes got a craving for the weak coffee they served at the cafe in Aoyama" p147

A good read with quirky stories, characters and events. Banana Yoshimoto is a great writer who really captures the psyche of Japanese culture with her deep insights, reflections and detailed introspection of what makes people tick.

June 01, 2019

Book Review The Dark Room by Junnosuke Yoshiyuki

Book Review The Dark Room by Junnosuke Yoshiyuki

A man who has had a carefree life as a writer reflects deeply on his life after the death of his wife Keiko after a car accident cut short their marriage. He has had a string of women in his life since but none can fill the gap. 

Set in post-world war II Tokyo we get insights to the man’s life as a writer, his daily rituals, work briefs and his relationships with bosses and women. 

A friend Tsunoki approaches him and asks him to consider a manuscript about a diary of his encounters with women, he tries to reject the offer but slowly accepts. 

This book it seems is that manuscript and we gain details of his relationships with inn girls, Takako, Natsue and Maki who all have a place in his life but who he never invites home.

japan, japanese, customer, consumer, book, review, the dark room, junnosuke yoshiyuki, japanese literature, www.japanesecustomer.com, @jcustomers, #japan, #japaneseliterature

April 01, 2019

Book Review: Woman Running in the Mountains by Yuko Tsushima

Book Review: Woman Running in the Mountains by Yuko Tsushima

A young Japanese woman in her early twenties has a casual relationship with a middle aged Japanese salaryman and becomes pregnant, against the urging of her family. She tries to raise the child herself as a single mother at home but soon finds out the hard way the impossible and unbalanced situation she finds her self in. Humble she refuses to contact the father for help and instead knuckles down and gets a part time job in a restaurant to pay for private baby sitting until it drains her savings. Still living at home she ignores the scorn of her mother, her brothers stares and the violence of a drunk unemployed father. 

Her son Akira develops a hernia and the cost of the operation forces her to look for more stable work after having been forced to resign from her restaurant job (as she was bullied by the manager and the staff). She discovers a job as a gardener at a private company and after convincing the owners to take a woman as an employee, she joins and meets Kambayashi a fellow employee who fascinates her as he has a child with down syndrome. 

The friendship blooms but she wants more but finds herself visiting Kawano an old friend from the coffee shop she frequented as a high school student. 

A tough love novel that reveals the difficulties of single mothers in Japan and the obstacles they face.

Book Review: Woman Running in the Mountains by Yuko Tsushima

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March 02, 2019

Book Review: Confessions of Love by Uno Chiyo

Book Review: Confessions of Love by Uno Chiyo

Author: Uno Chiyo

Translated by: Phyllis Birnbaum

Publisher: Charles Tuttle Tokyo, 1990

ISBN: 0-8048-1651-4

Pages: 157 


Such places are probably no longer permitted to operate but back then there was a restaurant next to Shimbashi Station called the Yuyutei, there were several small rooms each with two chairs. Once the curtain was drawn in those rooms, even a person passing outside could’nt make out who was within. Men would go there with women and those couples would spend the time talking to each other in whispers” p33

A very humourous story about an intimate romantic history apparently based on the life of the artist Togo Seiji who is called Yuasa Joji in the novel. A kind of chronicle of life in Tokyo in the 1920’s where weak men who were irresistible to women entered relationships.

 “ I tried to sound irritated but finally let the fury stay locked up in my heart” p42

Book Review: Confessions of Love by Uno Chiyo

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February 01, 2019

Book Review Love and other stories by Yokomitsu Riichi

A collection of eleven short stories written by Yokomitsu Riichi who has been described as an experimental modernist writer. 

Stand out stories include The Smile, After Picking up a Blue Stone, The Carriage, The Defeated Husband, The Pale Captain and The Machine.

He explores a range of topics including collecting debts after his father dies in Korea, caring for his wife who has tuberculosis, relationships between man and wife and working in a small family run business. 

Some very powerful stories that will leave a deep impression of life and times in Japan before, during and after the war.

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Copyright Japanese Customer. All Rights Reserved.

December 01, 2018

Book Review Geisha in Rivalry by Kafu Nagai


Kafu Nagai 

Translated by: 

Kurt Meissner


Charles Tuttle Publishing, Tokyo, Japan, 1963





This is a very interesting novel on a number of levels in terms of historical context and the topic which reveals the inner workings of a geisha house. 

Probably the most important learning from this novel is the insights gained about the relationship between a business and its customer.

The flexibility required, the hiding of ones own feelings, the servitude, the focus and the importance of appearance, speed and detail in very small things. 

Overall we see the great lengths Japanese culture goes to meet customer needs. 

We learn the historical aspects of the region of Tokyo where the novel is set, Shimbashi. 

As a reader we are blessed to capture the feel of the period from the clothing, food and lifestyle, all the way down to the wood of the local bath house.
A fascinating novel, that is light fun and intriguing.

Copyright JapaneseCustomer.com. All Rights Reserved, 2018.

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November 01, 2018

Book Review Footprints in the snow by Kenjiro Tokutomi

Author: Kenjiro Tokutomi

Translator: Kenneth Strong

Publisher: Tuttle Publishing, Tokyo, Japan, 1971

ISBN: 0293-000247-4615

Pages: 371

A novel about growing up in the Meiji Period

© Copyright. 2016.  All rights reserved,

A novel set in the Meiji period between 1860 and 1900 that reveals the hardships of the time where families lost their fortunes easily and the impact this had on people families and lives.
We learn the about the good and bad sides of relatives, the social impact of dramatic change in society, we gain insights into men’s and women’s worlds, social interactions including arranged marriages, the importance of education in order to get ahead and get noticed. Clothing, food, fashion and social customs of the period. Politics and its impact on everyday people, the need for guarantors for accommodation and the complexity of love in an open environment where people had little privacy.
The tale of one man’s struggle to rebuild his family’s name and wealth.


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October 01, 2018

Book Review: Five Women Who Loved Love by Ihara Saikaku

Author: Ihara Saikaku

Translator: William Theodore De Bary

Publisher: Kodansha Amer Inc (February 1993)

ISBN: 978-4770016904

Pages: 248

A collection of short stories on women who love love

© Copyright. 2016.  All rights reserved,

 A collection of five short stories by Ihara Saikaku who live in the period 1642 to 1693. Each story tells of a couple who love each other but who cannot be together and their ensuing struggles to keep their love.

The reader gets transported back to the time period in which the stories are written and gains great insights into the lifestyle and social norms of the period, plus get to meet the characters of each story and how they met, lived and challenges they faced to find love.

The stories include: The story of Seijuro in Himeji, The Barrelmaker Brimful of Love, What the seasons brought the Almanac maker, The Greengrocers daughter with a bundle of love and Gengobei, the mountain of love.

A very light, humorous and historical book that sheds light on the social conditions for love in the period.

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September 01, 2018

Book Review Kangaroo Notebook by Kobo Abe

Book Review – Kangaroo Notebook

Author: Kobo Abe

Translator: Maryellen Toman Mori 

Publisher: Alfred. A. Knopf, New Yoork, USA, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42412-1 Pages: 183

A wild ride from start to finish

© Copyright. JapaneseCustomer.com, 2016. All rights reserved, 

This is the last novel by Kobo Abe before his death in 1993. It takes the reader on a fantastic journey from everyday life to a deep dream like state where we get to learn more about the main character who is an employee for an office supply firm who has recently suggested a new product, a Kangaroo Notebook which management like and want to reward him if he can put the idea into reality.

As he contemplates the idea he discovers he has a medical problem to deal with and the novel takes us along for the ride as he tries to discover the cause and gain a solution. We meet a host of interesting characters, places and recollections. He finally ends up in hospital with an unrelated condition where he gets some help from some unlikely strangers. 

A fun, crazy and creative dive into to the subconscious!

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Book Review – Kangaroo Notebook

August 01, 2018

Book Review The Kingdom by Fuminori Nakamura

Book Review 

The Kingdom by Fuminori Nakamura

This book is the sequel to his earlier book "The Thief" which was written from the male perspective whereas this book is written from the female perspective which is a great twist. The storylines are similar in that they are both set in Tokyo but characters and plot are very diferent.

One of the best things about Fuminori's writing is that he does not use cliches and builds unique blocks to build up and change story movements. There is no way to guess what is coming.

Symbolic references to the moon, fate and superstition standout as do the themes of darkness and abandonment.

We learn about the life, times and friends of Yurika a freelancer in the Tokyo underworld.

Authentic, fast paced and keeps you entertained until the end.

It would be great to see some of Fuminori's books made into movies in the future!

First book in the series

The second book in the series

Other books by Fuminori Nakamura

the kingdom, the thief, fuminori, nakamura, book review, japanese literature