|Fish vie for attention (and fish
food) outside a souvenir store on the shopping street leading
to the Akiyoshi caves.
One of the secrets of sounding like a good writer is to make people
believe that you have a huge supply of facts and figures right on
the tip of your literary tongue. In reality, we have to stop what
we are doing and wade through piles of research material fill in
the details of all the stuff we forgot to ask about when we were
Even though this memoir is an example of state of the art, electronic
publishing, most of the research was performed with ordinary books.
Actually, I have to admit that many of my resources were quite extraordinary
books. Even though they are all in English, many were published
in Japan and available here only through Japanese-American bookstores.
All are available through Kinokuniya
Bookstores which has branches in many large cities. If you are
fortunate enough to live outside of a major city, they are usually
happy to ship books directly to you.
Unfolding Japanese Traditions, Masako Yanagita & Masako
Hanada, Apricot Press (Japan); 1994, ISBN (Japan) 4-905737-60-5;
This is a remarkably concise and complete book on the culture
and customs of Japan. There are numerous illustrations and the
book is fun and easy to read. It is actually shorter than the
216 pages reported. All the left-facing pages are in Japanese
and the right pages are in English.
Pictorial Encyclopedia of Japanese Life and Events Nakayama
Kaneyoshi, Gakken Co., Ltd. (US distribution via Kodansha America,
Inc.), 1993, ISBN (US) 0-84040-921-2; 130 pp.
Kaneyoshi's book focuses on Japanese holidays, festivals and
other important annual events. Even though it is primarily a picture
book, it holds a wealth of well-organized information. (Note:
Even though this book is listed by both Amazon and Barnes &
Noble as being out of print, it is still very much available through
Kinokuniya and other Japanese bookstores in the US.)
Talking About Japan Q&A, Patricia Mari Katayama, et
al., Kodansha International, Ltd., 1996, ISBN (Japan) 4-7700-2026-0;
Like Unfolding Japanese Traditions, this is a bilingual
English/Japanese book and one in an excellent series called, not
surprisingly "Bilingual Books" published by Kodansha.
This volume offers a nice balance of hard facts and astute observations
about Japanese life and culture. Other books in this large series
cover topics such as history, food, literature and current events.
Japan, An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Kodansha Ltd., 1993,
ISBN (Japan) 4-06-205938-X; 1,924 pp.
This is unquestionably the most complete and definitive source
of information on Japan published in English anywhere. Even at
nearly two-thousand pages, the articles are not particularly lengthy,
but they touch on virtually every aspect of the country and culture.
There is a CD-ROM version (Windows only) available as well. Available
Etiquette Guide to Japan, by Boye De Mente, Yenbooks (Tuttle),
1990, ISBN0-8048-1643-3; 132 pp.
Virtually essential when traveling to Japan for business (or
visiting relatives) and extremely helpful for the casual
tourist. In spite of its brevity, it covers nearly all of
the essentials and occasionally provides some fascinating
bits of cultural and historical insight into the customs.
Available online through Amazon
Here's a short (for now) list of my favorite links to sites about
Japan's culture, language and railway system.
Japanese Language site
Even though her focus in on Japanese language, Namiko Abe is
the About.com Guide of what I believe is the Web's best site on
Japanese society and culture. It contains a rich archive of articles
and fresh new features virtually every week. My sincere thanks
to Ms. Abe (and the folks at About.com in general) for showing
how valuable a resource the Web can be.
This brilliant idea for a site contains first-person travelogues
and photos from around the world, all submitted by individual
travelers. There are great suggestions for things to see
and do that are often off the well-trod tourist trails.
Their home page is a gateway to a world of travel experiences.
Dynamic imagery of funky Japanese street fashion, culture with
informative features from Japan photographer Pat Lyttle. Pat's
site (as well as her photography and writing) captures the country's
unique blend of tradition and cutting-edge style.
Guide to Japan
Schauwecker's web site is an excellent portal with one of the
best assortments of links and greatest abundance of original
content on Japan. If you are planning a visit or are simply
interested, this is a great resource.
Thousand of pictures & hundreds of articles all about Japan.
Share photos, meet friends, & learn about Japan.
Three of Japan's best papers offer offer their daily news online
in English ( (in spite of its name, Japan Times Weekly provides
daily, online updates). They're a great place to visit if you
want to know what's news in Japan (or if you just happen to miss
Byun shinkansen Site
Okay, I will confess that I have become completely enamored
with Japan's rail system. For fellow shinkansen fans, Dave
Fossett's Byun Byun shinkansen site is the best that's out
The bullet trains may be the most glamorous stars of Japanese
railways, but I've fallen in love with the entire cast. This page
on Schauweckers Guide (mentioned above) has a great list of links
and information about Japan's rail system, past present and future.
Japanese Entertainment in English
Hooked on Japanese dramas (dorama), pop music or fashion?
This is the site to visit.
Information (in English) about Noritake and tourning the Craft
Center in Najoya.
If you find any absolutely great sites worth listing, drop
me a line and I will include them.