on 29 June 2000
Bruce Feiler's account of one year as an English language teacher in a Japanese school is actually a wide ranging, honest and well-observed document of all aspects Japanese culture. It is at times humorous and poignant and for someone like me who has experienced the JET scheme in a different decade, different situation and region of Japan, it is quite scary by dint of its familiarity. The only real let-down of this book, in my opinion, is Feiler's occasional tendency to generalize. True, this is to a large extent a necessary evil, but the way he expands each small episode to make some wider comment does begin to grate.
on 22 May 2006
To be fair, I must point out that I have not finished reading the book yet.
Whilst the book is often interesting and at times funny, the self-important and patronising style as well as the constant generalisations about the Japanese people and their culture are irritating and cliched; his regular references to the ways the Americans contributed to and improved the modern Japanese culture are obscene.
His dogmatic historical and cultural background explanations are lacking in depth and distract fromt the story.
What a disappointment!
on 8 March 2010
Despite the occasionally vitriolic reviews I had seen of this book I was pleasently suprised at how much I enjoyed reading it. Mr. Feiler certainly has a knack for writing and his descriptions of the situations he encountered are as lucid as they are entertaining. The criticism I would give of this book is the occasional tone of superiority when recounting some of his stories; he makes regular allusions that he believes the way they do things in the west is the fairest and best way.
Either way, the author makes some insightful observations and I found myself regularly wanting to read on. A good read that doesn't feel too long - certainly one of the better foreigner-in-Japan books out there.