For some reason one tends to associate Japan with a tea culture and not coffee. Oh the misleading power of assumption. For those who shared this reviewer's ignorance of Japanese coffee culture, this could be an interesting work to peruse.
Written in an academic style but accessible to a tenacious reader, this book takes a look at the café society in Japan in the past 130 years and how coffee has helped to shape Japanese society in different ways. It might seem far-fetched yet coffee has played a much greater part in 'modern-day' Japan than you could imagine.
As befitting an academic book, the author has clearly done their homework and a multitude of reference sources and notations are provided for the reader's own reference. After a comprehensive introduction to this relatively 'obscure' subject and an interesting overview about Japan's cafés, the next chapter is the curiously-titled 'Modernity and the Passion Factory.' where jazz, modernity, empowerment of women and cultural clashes all enter the mix.
Japan embraced coffee, made its own coffee emperors and started to make a contemporary Japanese coffee and, of course, an entire coffee culture and counter culture at the same time. Rituals were formed, rules developed, traditions strengthened and no doubt Unchangeable things slowly changed. All due to the humble coffee bean and its brew.
Certainly if you have the patience and the interest, this book will certainly give you a lot of food for thought, a lot of new knowledge and maybe a whole new perceptive to Japanese culture as a whole. The book is low on fripperies like colour photographs and infographics but high on information. A book you might need to focus on - which is no bad thing - rather than casually flip through. A book you might want to sit down in a comfy chair with, a cup of tea, oops, coffee at your side and a bit of time...
An interesting book, not everyone's cup of tea (oops, you don't tend to refer to everyone's cup of coffee) perhaps but worthy of a read if you are interested in society changes, history, philosophy, gastronomy or just piling in bits of knowledge to the old grey matter for good measure.