If you’re too cheap to book a flight to Tokyo, then the next best thing is reading about it instead!
Here’s a selection of books we’re curated for your low cost entertainment needs:
Crime and Underworld
Photo by Amazon book listing
Jake Adelstein is a living legend, having survived both a journalist career of covering organised crime and being the first American citizen to work as a Japanese language reporter for a Japanese newspaper.
Tokyo Underworld : The fast times and hard life of an American Gangster in Japan
The fascinating tale of a petty American gangster making a life for himself in post-war Tokyo, this book also charts the rise of the Yakuza during the allied occupation and delves into some of the major scandals and incidents that captivated Tokyo in the forties, fifties and sixties.
True Crime Japan: Thieves, Rascals, Killers and Dope Heads: True Stories From a Japanese Courtroom
Author Paul Murphy sat through hundreds of cases in Nagano’s district court from petty fraud to murder. The personal tragedies and despair of each case reveal more about Japanese society than you could infer from a tall stack of Japanese literature. The author also gives helpful context to the various misdeeds and the situations that led to them with interesting insights into Japanese society, government, family and law.
Haruki Murakami – Japan’s perennial Nobel Literature Prize favorite – writes a rare non-fiction book about the tragedy of the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attacks. With his usual story telling genius, Murakami retells each incident with chilling detail. He also interviews both perpetrators and victims, trying to understand what led ordinary people to perpetrate terror on the Tokyo subway.
A series of essays originally written in 1994 by Alex Kerr on Japan’s disappearing traditions in the face of relentless modernization. Kerr explains his love of kabuki and calligraphy as well as the city of Kyoto and Shikoku’s rustic Iya Valley.
Geisha of Gion : The True Story of Japan’s Foremost Geisha
The memoir of Mineko Iwasaki, one of Japan’s most famous geisha/geiko. She was interviewed by the author of the fictional novel Memoirs of a Geisha which was made into a Hollywood blockbuster. She decided to write this in tandem with Rande Brown as a response to what she felt was a misrepresentation of the geisha world.