Recommendations for a modern "The Inland Sea"?
September 1, 2010 10:27 PM   Subscribe

Loved "The Inland Sea" by Richie. Recommendations for something comparable set in modern Japan? The more recent the better. Bonus points for Kindle/iBooks availability.
posted by avoidance to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Non-fiction, but Alex Kerr has some amazing stuff on Japan. Dogs and Demons, about the construction industry and 'modernization' of Japan, and the damaging effects it's had on the land and people is a fantastic book.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:53 PM on September 1, 2010

Best answer: Honestly, I don't think there's been a lot of really good travel writing about Japan comparable to the likes of The Inland Sea or The Roads to Sata. Perhaps there's more cynicism in contemporary works that just wasn't there when Japan looked to be headed nowhere but up.

The only writing I can recommend is: Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson, about an English teacher who hitchhikes the length of Japan (though it is more humorous than the two former works); and Spike Japan, which is a more dystopic and focuses on the declining aspects of Japan (and the prose can be a bit florid at times).
posted by armage at 11:11 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Alan Booth did write a posthumously published book called "Looking for the Lost", but it was written nearly 20 years ago (Roads to Sata, while published in the mid-80s, actually documents his trip in the late 70s, so it's also pretty dated).

Taro Greenfeld's "Speed Tribes" is also well-written, but it's also pretty dated by now.

Although there is not a hope in hell that these books will be available on iBooks etc, but Mirror in the Shrine by Robert Rosenstone is pretty timeless, as it deals with "American encounters with Meiji Japan", and Rosenstone's observations are applicable both to the book's subject matter as well as later non-Japanese folks (like Richie and Booth, although Kerr doesn't count as he grew up in part in Japan, who were transformed by Japan).

If you're near a larger library, it might be worthwhile tracking down some of Lafcadio Hearn (he's one of the Americans profiled in Rosenstone's book)'s letters, essays, and magazine articles. He writes about schoolboys marching with sailors on their way to the Russian front back at the turn of the century; he also writes about the bodies of those same sailors washing up on shore following a naval battle. His writings, besides the folklore and ghost tales he was most famous for, are a great window into the past.

Tokyo Vice looks like an interesting book, too.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:27 PM on September 1, 2010

Best answer: I would second Alex Kerr, given this. You might also like to read some modern Japanese fiction: Supermarket, Out, Murakami, Mishima, etc.

Also, I don't know if you noticed, but Amazon recommended this book for fans of Richie.
posted by shii at 1:00 AM on September 2, 2010

Nthing Kerr and Ferguson.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:05 AM on September 2, 2010

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