Monday, 22 August 2005

I have now been in Japan for just over a year – the longest so far at a stretch. And I can tell you I’VE GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!!
This is the reaction I have to spending the last 3 days reading Dogs And Demons by Alex Kerr. If you’ve read it, you’ll know what I’m getting at – the book portrays Japan as a creaking machine heading in the wrong direction and about to fall apart at any minute. It covers most aspects of life in Japan, from the concreted rivers and seashores to the cookie-cutterization of the populace through a scarily efficient miseducation system And the thing is, you can see it. The rivers are concreted. There are more under-used cultural centres, pachinko parlours and strange shaped monuments than could possibly be needed
A big factor in my current attitude is probably the intensity with which I’ve been reading this book. It is almost 400 pages (plus Footnotes) and I started reading it on Friday evening. Thanks to a rainy day on Saturday and a train journey on Sunday, I will have finished it by this (Monday) evening. As well as being scarily readable (with a few rough bits in the economics sections that I’m not too clued up on) it is very intense, packed full of facts, examples and whatnot to explain the whole crazy system – a good summary is here. Dogs And Demons is definitely worth a read if you are even vaguely interested in Japan, but be warned: it might put you off.

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