Pre-holiday reading

Japan books

We’ve been preparing for our holiday next month with some reading and language practice. Can you guess where we’re going?

Perhaps this will clarify…

Japan films

Tokyo! We are so excited! We’ve been spending our Friday nights watching films set in Tokyo, and Japan more widely. Obviously Studio Ghibli rules, but I can also recommend Adrift in Tokyo, a comedy about a student and a loan shark walking around the city with surreal stuff happening.

To really get down with Japanese culture, I dug out some manga and music by the Pillows. Do you know the Pillows? They’re fun. Check them out.

Japan manga and music

Obviously the prep that’s the most fun is reading. I was mostly confused by FLCL volume 1, which I understand to be the standard reaction to this tale of a teenage schoolboy with robots popping out of his forehead. (I watched the first few episodes of the anime version of FLCL years ago and it is also confusing. Perhaps a little less so than the manga. And the music to the anime is all by the Pillows, which is how we discovered them, I think.) In the past, I’ve read a lot of Haruki Murakami, the two David Mitchell novels with sections set in Japan, and OUT by Natsuo Kirino, which was frankly terrifying.

I’m now partway through A Tale for the Time Being, which I am so far loving. It’s not straightforward, and the Japanese words it’s teaching me are perhaps not the most useful (ijime = bullying; iyada = gross) but I am certainly getting a flavour of Tokyo from it. Tim is reading William Gibson’s Tokyo books: Pattern Recognition and Idoru. (Except that Idoru is the sequel to Virtual Light, so he had to read that first, even though it’s mostly set in San Francisco. Which I guess does make the picture at the top of this post a bit confusing.)

So what other books set in Tokyo should we read? What films set in Tokyo should we watch?