Thursday, February 13, 2020

Favorite Japan-Related Memoirs

As part of my recent (or not-so-recent, anymore?) rekindled interest in Japanese language and culture, I've been reading a bunch of Japan-related memoirs. Here are some of my favorites:

Lost in Tokyo: A Year of Sex, Sushi, and Suicide in the Real Japan
The story of a British dude who becomes a teacher in Japan, it's alternately hilarious (in a very British-sense-of-humor kind of way) and poignant (in a very traditionally Japanese kind of way). The quality of the writing itself isn't exactly top-notch, but still, this is a total page-turner nonetheless.

Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries
Another story about a Westerner (this time, from the Southern U.S.) who moves to Japan and becomes a teacher, this, too, was a fun and fast read. The humor comes not only from the fish-out-of-water angle, but also because I think Japan's culture and society are just inherently amusing in the same way that cats are, like where they are so eccentrically awesome that you can't help but to shake your head and chuckle.

Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo
This time, a whole family (husband, wife, daughter) moves to Japan for a month, not to teach, but to experience what I assume to be an incredible, amazing food culture (I haven't been to Japan in thirty years, but it was good then, so I figure it's still good now). Will make you laugh, and also hungry.

Across Tokyo
Look, ma, no subtitle! Anyway, this one chronicles the journey of two Western transplants (they're from the U.S., but have been living in Japan for many years now) who "urban hike" from one end of Tokyo to the other, a span of distance that is much longer than you might think. Like all the previous books mentioned in this post, it is laugh-out-loud funny.

Not One Shrine: Two Food Writers Devour Tokyo
Back to the subtitles, I see. Seriously, people, what's up with that? Is it some kind of nonfiction style rule that I don't know about? (Come to think of it, my friend Melissa Hart's recent nonfiction book Better With Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens has what is probably the longest subtitle in literary history. Check it out, though, it's terrific.) Anyway, this one is from the same guy who moved to Japan with his family for a month in Pretty Good Number One, only this time he's joined by his chef-friend and podcast co-host (who is the same person) as they go on a food crawl throughout Tokyo.

So yeah, if you're interested in Japan and enjoy some light, fun reading, I highly recommend all five of these books mentioned above. I'm also on the lookout for more, so if you know of any, let me know!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Laurelhurst Album Release & Farewell Show

For those of you in the Portland/Vancouver area, there's a really cool show happening this Saturday. Here's everything you need to know in one picture:
Well, not everything, I guess. Like, why is this Laurelhurst's last show? For the answer to that, check out episode 16 (appropriately titled "Laurelhurst") of the Second Player Speaks podcast here.

I've known the guys in Laurelhurst for over five years now and have shared the stage with them on many memorable occasions, such as:

- the CD release party for Second Player Score's first album, Fortress Storm Attack

- a show at Shanahan's Pub where I did a drunken half-dance/half-mosh kind of thing

- Anarchy Radio's 3rd birthday party in Oak Grove

- The launch party for Joel Suzuki, Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire

Looking forward to one more time! Laurelhurst rocks, as does the rest of the bill, so come check it out (for those of you - like me - who might not be able to read the smaller print on the picture above, here are the details again):

Saturday, February 8
Twilight Cafe
1420 SE Powell Blvd (where there is a parking lot!)
Portland, OR
7pm, 21 and over
$8 advance tickets at
$10 at the door