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Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Geek In Japan - Book Review

I was recently asked to review the book A Geek In Japan written by Hector Garcia and published by Tuttle Publishing.

This book is my new bible regarding things Japan. Yes, it's that good.

I, who lived in Japan for three-plus years, have been writing about for six years, and reading a plethora of books, magazines, on-line articles, watching anime and videos (sometimes naughty), and reading manga—I… I actually learned quite a bit from reading A Geek In Japan.

You should purchase a copy and use it for your own reference. To be honest, I've already begun using stuff I learned from the book in my own articles here.

Now… I will state upfront that when author Hector Garcia starts offering his opinion on aspects of Japanese society—I don't always agree with him.

A few times I found the view he proposed to be a tad narrow-focused, but that's okay. He was offering an opinion, and one's opinion is always correct, even if one isn't. I could be wrong about that, though.

But, when Garcia sticks to the facts, I simply shook my head in disbelief, wondering why I didn't know about such and such, or what the heck was I thinking?

There are times when Garcia becomes a little too familiar with his topic, assuming the reader is too—nihonshu, for example… repeat the definition when possible, because there is a foreign word overload for the newbie interested in Japan. I know what it is, and even if there are words I don't know, I know how to find the definition.

Another negative - for me - was the title. It's a little misleading—A Geek In Japan

While I am aware that the dek says "Discovering The Land Of Manga, Anime, Zen, And The Tea Ceremony", because the word "Geek" is used, it makes one think that it's all about the nerdy (geeky) side of Japan… such as manga, anime, J-pop, Godzilla and the Lolita-pervy stuff .

Nothing wrong with those things, of course, except for J-pop (WTF is that crap?) but that's the impression that was left on me when I read the title.

Of course… the first thing out of Garcia's mouth on Page 5 is his expanded definition of the word "Geek", as part of the photo cutline showing himself. It's not as visible as it should be, but it is there.

In that cutline, Garcia describes 'A geek in Japan' as someone 'who is fascinated by Japan'.

It's not just about the fanboy stuff. It's a book for people interested in learning more about Japan. Someone like you or me, for example.

And while I know it seems like I am picking on the negative aspects of the book—and I am—it really is a spectacular book chock full of fantastic facts and information—enough to compel the newbie to want to visit Japan, and the old-hand to want to go out and experience more of it.

Again.. the book is fascinating, full of useful information, easy-to-read and digest, contains crisp and clear photographs that actually match the subject he is describing to us—it's why I would not want to try and write a book about Japan.

Actually… I am, but not an encyclopedic book as A Geek In Japan.

Why screw with perfection.

It's 160 pages, not including covers, with each topic rarely going over a page in length, and when it does, it's sub-divided into further genres. Like I said… easy and fun to read.

To purchase a copy, contact Tuttle Publishing at

Andrew Joseph

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