Book Review – Wrong about Japan

Ok another book review about Japan. This one is written by the Australian author, Peter Carey. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve read any of his books previously. But this one I like because it’s short and he recounts his experience visiting Japan with his son Charley. This trip was for them to see their ‘Real Japan’. Charley is into manga and anime and his dream is to see and be part of the culture that created these two phenomenal art forms.

Written like a memoir, Carey tries to make sense and decodes aspects of Japanese culture from a Western point of view but he does not judge. I love the piece about Mr Yazakis’ matter-of-fact and yet poignant story of the fire bombing of his home towns during WWII. I was teary reading his account because I felt the pain and trauma of Mr Yazaki’s childhood experience of the fire bombing. And yet he did not sound bitter or cynical – more philosophical actually.

Through this travel log, Carey describes the Japanese culture and people as enigmatic – something that cannot be grasped easily by Western people. Surprisingly, and maybe to Charley’s dispappointment his realisation that both manga and anime were borne out of something more ordinary and mundane rather than some gradiose desire to create something magnificently artistic. For example, the creation of the show Mobile Suit Gundam was the result of the toy company wanting to sell more toys.

Anyway, another highly recommended read from me. Easy to follow, humourous and a great book if you’re also doing research about Japan.


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