Review: A Geek In Japan
I found this book on Amazon once while looking for any geek books I could find. After reading the reviews, checking out its table of contents, and researching it a bit more, I purchased it. A Geek in Japan turned out to be the best book on Japan and geeks I have ever read (not that I have read many). I truly enjoyed it and gained so much knowledge by reading it. You will learn about the lifestyles and habits of the Japanese along with all the geeky interests that you may have (anime, movies, video games, etc.).
The author himself lives, works, and studies in Japan. His name is Hector Garcia and he is actually from Spain. Being Hispanic myself (not from Spain, but I’m 100% fluent in Spanish) I went to his blog and checked out his posts. It’s a great site because Hector shares lots of great photos on the life of an everyday resident of Japan. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, check it out for the photos!
This book is fairly clean in its images, and you will not find anything sexual or offensive in the pictures. Be warned though, as there are comments made on the sex life of the Japanese and several mentions on alcohol and why it’s consumed in Japan. In the book’s defense, everything is stated as cultural and not for shock value.
Regarding Christianity, you get a few pages scattered throughout that explain religious beliefs in Japan. Their history with Christianity isn’t discussed in much detail but is mentioned. Remember that Christianity is a very small percentage in this country (though growing, it’s about 1% as of this writing).
There is so much awesome in the pages of this book. It’s a chapter book so you can skip if needed. But it does read like someone was hired to fill in some gaps, as it seems to lack character to the writing. In other words, when you read sections that are informational it feels like your reading a Wikipedia article, but it is chock full of great facts and details of Japan and their way of life.
If you’re a geek, then be sure to skip ahead to the chapters on Anime, Manga, movies, and Japan Today. This will tell you all about the otaku culture, how anime and video games started, and obscure topics like Visual Kei and Meido fashion. Manga-lovers (otaku) will love to know more about Osamu Tezuka, the origin of manga and how their popularity has grown from the Metropolis of Nippon to overseas.
The life of students, women, and salarymen are interesting and very different than America. Japan’s entire way of living is like another world, from how children are raised to the grueling hours and stress that is placed on society to be the best they can be to their longevity and health.
“Age in Japan is directly proportional to respect, and young people must address their elders in very formal language.”
On page 96-97, there’s a Japanese Popular Culture Chronology. It’s cool to see how it all started, and where Japan is today. Whether it’s Pokemon, Ayumi Hamasaki or Astro Boy, Evangelion to Akira, knowing how some of our favorite icons and shows began helps you appreciate them more.
This has been my favorite book on Japan, especially since I’m a geek. Having a love for the country and the people there, not only was I able to learn more about their lifestyle and habits, but also the origins of manga and anime. Come on, what more do you want?
As a Christian, it still pains my heart to know that there is so little Christian influence there. Many Japanese have never heard the gospel of Christ because they outright rejected missionaries and evangelists that have gone there ages ago. Christianity is an ancient relic in Japan due to the lack of churches and little knowledge of how to bridge cultural differences with the Bible.
Personally, I think a book like this is a great resource for Christians to use if they would want to evangelize to the Japanese. You can learn so much about their culture that, honestly, the gospel would not be difficult to present. Everyone is seeking purpose, what happens when we die, and forgiveness from sins that no temple or religion can offer. Sharing the eternal hope that humanity has in Jesus Christ is a gift that crosses any culture, language, or nation.
I hope you pick this book up if you’re interested in Japan or want to learn the origins of manga and Japanese film. You won’t regret studying this fantastic and detailed book.