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4.2 out of 5 stars53
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 15 November 2010
I listen to a lot of BBC podcasts, and when I hear about a book that sounds interesting I put it on my Wish List. I travel a lot, so every couple of weeks I order the next thing from the Wish List for my next flight. This is one of those books that makes the time literally fly... I've never been to Tokyo, so I have absolutely no idea whether Jake's outsider perspective is "accurate" or not, but I found it compelling reading - I genuinely couldn't put it down. It's an interesting story, even without the yakuza scoop, about Japanese society and I thought that descriptions of many of the Japanese characters told me more about the country that I could learn from a Lonely Planet. I especially liked the way that there is a tragic aspect to the trajectory of the story, because as he get closer to the "dark" side you do get the feeling that things aren't going to end well, but don't know exactly how.
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on 17 September 2012
Any foreigner who joins a Japanese company in Japan the way that Mr Adelstein did deserves a lot of credit. I can only imagine the struggles with the language, the culture and the not-so-subtle discrimination. The way he lays out his early experiences at the Yomiuri are great - he doesn`t complain or feel sorry for himself, must have been tempting to jack it in at times. He also nailed the Japanese humour in quite a few places in ways that made me laugh out loud.

The descriptons of Roppongi and Kabukicho etc are spot on, and I think capture the quirkiness and excitement of those places, as well as the sordid and the human suffering. Its a brave man who tells this story and I think the author does it very well.
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VINE VOICEon 19 October 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A great read exposing Japan's seedy, violent underbelly. The author has a love/hate relationship with the country and its culture and he holds up a very honest mirror to the dark side that rarely gets a look in. Mafia gangsters, human trafficking, fraud, corruption at the highest levels, the sex industry, the Western expats living here - it's all covered.

I found it very human and the author's candour is both gritty and real. Also - because this is a fact-based book, rather than a work of fiction - it made it much more impactful for me. This is based on real people. And being the only Western journalist to get the kind of exposure he has had - to the police and to the yakuza - is a rare feat indeed.

If you have *any* interest in Japan at all - I would highly recommend reading it.
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on 3 August 2015
This is a fascinating and fairly unique insight into the underworld of the one of the most compelling and polarising nations on earth. Adelstein does a really effective job of digging deep and wide to show us gaijins, the often maddening, sometimes puzzling but always compelling ways of life in Japan.

We learn of some beautiful words and new ways of how the Japanese view their world, we also discover how, in spite of the stereotype as a highly technologically developed country, they still retain some terrifyingly backward and outrageously poor laws and views with regards to the female of the species and their treatment of foreigners.

This is a well written piece of work, with plenty of meaty and thrilling insights that will keep you hooked to the final pages.
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VINE VOICEon 10 June 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Studying in Japan, fluent in the language and wandering what to do with himself when he graduates, American Jake Adelstein decides to try for a career in journalism, as much to see if he can pass the examination system as much as anything else. To his surprise he succeeds, and thus a foreigner finds himself working as a crime journalist for the largest newspaper in Japan. The result is an entertaining tour of the seedy underbelly of Japanese culture, a crime beat that he covered on and off for 13 years. The book therefore covers his life and experiences over this period and isn't just concerned with one big case, although eventually he uncovers a story that results in the Yakuza forcing him to quit his job and the country, with horrific consequences for one of his sources.

Along the way he leads the reader on an entertaining tour of the Japanese crime beat, sometimes shocking, sometimes funny and always eye opening, not least when concerning the curious relationships between the Police, Press and Yakuza. The Yakuza brazenly have entire office blocks as headquarters, the police track yakuza membership by reading Yakuza fanzines available on the high street, and the police let the Yakuza know in advance if their offices are to be raided so that there are no unruly scenes in front of the press (you can imagine what happens to any incriminating evidence in the meantime).

On the way there's also a chapter on his coverage of the Lucie Blackman case. The most surprising revelation is not why it took the Japanese police so long to track down her killer, but that it's a miracle the police ever bothered to get up off their posteriors and launch an investigation in the first place. If it hadn't been for one small aspect of the case that they couldn't ignore then the whole thing would have been brushed swiftly under the carpet and forgotten about. This astonishing attitude is, it turns out, mainly down to her being a) a foreigner, and b) (and even worse from their point of view) a woman. The maximum sentence for rape in Japan is 2 years, which gives you some indication of how low down on their priorities crimes against women are, let alone crimes against foreign women. As Adelstein points out, this isn't necessarily a fault of the police: the Japanese police have some very good officers, but they can only work within the confines of existing laws.

Eventually, as I've said, Adelstein seriously antagonises a ruthless Yakuza overlord and is forced out of the country. Finished as a journalist for the foreseeable future - in Japan at least - to his credit Adelstein then makes it his mission in life to wake Japanese law enforcement up to the horrors of human trafficking that are taking place under their noses, something that to his credit he's apparently still involved with. However the book ends with a truly horrific revelation, the consequences of which sound as if they'll be haunting the author for the rest of his life. It's certainly a pretty shocking kick in the teeth for the reader.

Highly recommended.
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on 29 August 2010
A cracking read from an author who knows what he is talking about first hand. I've been living in Tokyo for 10yrs now and fortunately have managed to steer clear of this seedier side of the city, probably for the better. A must for anyone who knows the city or anyone fascinated by crime writing. Pretty amazing how close the author gets to some really nasty people. I know this was only a job to the author but some aspects of it must have been a lot of fun! If I only led half of his life, I'd have enough stories for the christmas table for 10 life times. Can't wait for the next book.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 September 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found Tokyo Vice to be a fascinating insight into Japanese culture. While the culture of crime takes centre stage, the little details of everyday life, such as the everyday greetings and polite observances, which introduce the reader to the subtleties of life in Japan. In the main, it is a rollicking read, filled with crime and sex. It is a book you'll enjoy reading for the shock of it all, feeling that you've experienced something about different ways and means of living, whilst leaving you content to continue your relatively staid life in the UK.
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on 1 March 2016
I never write reviews but this is a must buy for anyone interested in the Yakuza or wants an insight into the unique world that is Japan, also amazing if you are the slightest bit interested in journalism which I'm not and but found its style great and before long I couldn't put this book down! However word of warning this book does discuss the darker side of organised crime ranging from violence to sexual slavery just be ready for that it might be a lot to take on at once for some people.
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on 3 December 2015
Great read. Front cover to back cover in a couple of days. Incredibly interesting. Jake recalls in vivid detail his journey reporting on the world of Japanese crime.This journey is loaded with Sex predators,a serial killer, Loan sharks, Human trafficking, Very funny Japanese humour,and not forgetting the Yakuza! Looking forward to seeing the movie adaption.
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on 10 February 2011
I came across this book because i was studying crime and devience. i didn't expect much from it however it got me hooked. it's amazing. What nmakes it really good is that it's non-fiction and gives a lot of detail of what happens within the japanese culture that we really can't simply get from any random japanese book.

worth reading
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