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For Fukui's Sake: Two years in rural Japan Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Japan is one of the few places left in the world where a Westerner can still experience a real culture shock. Sam lived there for two years, and the book is his account of that time. Alternately moving, funny, sad and always eye-opening, it holds you from beginning to end.
Having never visited Japan I cannot comment on the accuracy of some of the author's writing, but it is always clear what are factual happenings, and what are his own thoughts and opinions.
Overall, a great read, and, I would think, essential if you are going to Japan.
In many ways this sums up the book: one foreigner's ongoing interpretation of Japan. This is both its strength and its weakness. For much of the time reading 'For Fukui's Sake' we see Japan through the eyes of a foreigner for whom Japan represents his first ever experience living in a different country. The observations are well written, but frequently they are laden with comparisons to life in England which, while easy to comprehend, do not fully capture the complexities of Japanese customs. Often they are made while the author recalls tales of trips with expat friends. His time spent exploring with other foreigners is potentially the least interesting aspect of the book - but takes up a lot of the story.
It's at its best when he speaks candidly with locals, be it in a family home or in a local bar, but these seem to take second place to the authors personal trials and issues wrestling with a foreign land. A certain naivety in the experiences is both refreshingly honest and occasionally limiting. More of a focus on rural Japan would have made a more compelling story. In the end we have a book which is anecdotal, engaging and truthful but ultimately lacking in depth. Those looking to get a solid insight into Japanese culture may be disappointed, but as a foreigner's buoyant first leap into Japan - it works reasonable well. Certainly worth a read.
For Fukui's Sake appears to be self-published, and it shows. There is no structure to the book, no arching narrative; it reads like a collection of independent articles, each covering a single event or concept. That doesn't sound like a big deal but it's frustrating. A good editor would have remedied this. One with a decent grasp of grammar would be ideal - the misuse of commas in this book is painful! There are numerous typos/spelling mistakes too (to/too, 'Karma Sutra', etc.).
I agree with the other reviewer who complained about the clichés and generalisations made frequently throughout. Halfway through (after we've been reading about the country for over a hundred pages) Japan is described as 'the land of sumo and sushi', which is depressingly childish and simplistic at this point in the book. The author often indulges in grandiose similes, some of which, for example in a story about a sushi bar, go on for pages! It's a bit cringe-worthy to be honest. Again, where was the editor?
If you read this book while keeping in mind the fact that it's one person's highly subjective views and experiences, relayed in his own sometimes overly opinionated and prejudiced words, then you may well enjoy it. I did in parts, but found myself skipping chapters towards the end as it became somewhat dull after a while. The author swings between being respectful and scornful of Japanese culture and beliefs, and at times I wondered what some of the people who clearly thought a lot of him might think of his less than kind comments about them!
In summary, it's worth a passing look if you're interested in Japan but don't expect too much.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love all things Japan which is why I bought this book but I really struggled with the amateur writing style I'm afraid. I wouldn't personally recommend it unfortunately. Read morePublished 5 months ago by email@example.com
Fantastic book, good page turner, and offers interesting insight into daily life - not as a tourist in Tokyo.Published 6 months ago by VCL
I really enjoyed this book. It was light and easy to read, with just the right mix of humour and information. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Pip1708
For Fukui's Sake (FFS) is best suited to those who have:
a) Never visited Japan
b) Never read any other travel books about the country
While Baldwin is honest and at... Read more
Really funny, enjoyable read. Perfect for my trip around Japan.Published 11 months ago by Miss E V Bellenie
Really easy and informative read, spoiled by spelling and grammatical errors - ' (air) so hot and thick it was an effort to breath.' '... there’s always big profits. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
I am currently traveling through Japan and picked this little gem up as an alternative to boring guide books.
I enjoyed every chapter. Read more
As someone who's interested in teaching English, cultural exchange, and world travel--with a particular focus on the JET program--I've read a lot of books on the topic. Read morePublished 14 months ago by ncfierro