Little in Japan Book

July 16, 2016

The Little in Japan book is now on sale!
The book collects all the Little In Japan comic strips so far, with a few new pages thrown in. It’s available as a 100-page paperback, or as a Kindle book.

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“Big in Japan” – Despite the cliche, not every westerner who arrives in Japan is greeted with immediate and massive success. For every overnight star who hits the big time in Tokyo, there are countless ordinary slobs floundering in the suburbs, teaching English. This comic is about one such person. Dave Barker is a bumbling ex-pat who loves Japan, and in order to stay must reluctantly teach people how to communicate in English, despite having inept conversational skills himself. Follow Dave as he tries to get by but fails at every turn, inadvertently offends Japanese sensibilities, and just generally makes a fool of himself.

Little in Japan is available on all the Amazon sites internationally.

Little in Japan Book

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Dark Horizon

January 18, 2015

I recently read a copy of Brian Reyes’ outrageous book, Dark Horizon, which he describes as “a vulgar yet playful book of insults”. It’s a spoof of the popular English textbook series, New Horizon, which has been read in Japanese public school since 1965. Here’s how Brian describes it:

I thought about the characters from New Horizon, and what they would be like 10 years later if they fell on hard times. In my version of the book, the character Mike is homeless, Emi is a prostitute and good ol’ Ann Green sensei is a suicidal hostess. They have rude conversations and Japanese can learn some very rude English insults. I included Romaji in the book, so it works well for English speakers to learn naughty Japanese phrases too!

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It’s a hilarious, irreverent read. You can get it in Amazon and lots of Japanese shops.


To Japan With Love

November 19, 2009

I wrote a couple of pages for this nice new travel guide to Japan (my bit’s about drinking and bars, naturally.)
Be sure to snap it up if you’re thinking of travelling in Japan.
It’s very tasteful and sophisticated by my standards!

Read more here: To Japan with Love


Ed Jacob’s Titillating “Love Hotels” Book

February 8, 2009

In a country so populous that entire families share the same bedroom and youngsters live with their parents well into their twenties, it must be quite a mammoth challenge to have a good shag in privacy. That’s why love hotels are so successful in Japan. These gaudy sex palaces, where randy couples can go for uninhibited nookie, can be easily spotted in the backstreets and roadsides of Japan, and are a source of fascination and amusement to westerners like me. To cater for this curiosity, Ed Jacob has lovingly written an entire book about the places, and the titillating tome makes for an entertaining read.

In “Love Hotels”, Jacob traces the history of the love hotel from its roots in the discreet backrooms of the tearooms and noodle shops of the Edo and Meiji Eras, before beds and lockable doors had made it to Japan (prior to the tea-rooms, people used to openly rut in parks like wild beasts. Sadly, the pesky white folks put a stop to this charming ancient custom when they arrived in their black ships and disapproved of the al-fresco action); all the way up to the hi-tech Disneyland-influenced pleasure pits of today, with their 50-inch flatscreen TVs, playstations, mind-boggling sex toys, and karaoke machines.
Ed Jacob lets us know the social context, fads and fashions of the times, and he fills us in on the hoteliers’ battles with the law, as well as prevailing Japanese attitudes to sex and romance. And there are plenty of pictures (which makes reading the book on the train difficult, as I discovered!)

One voyeuristic pleasure is the translation of the hotel guestbook comments, with thrilling confessions like “my husband doesn’t know I’m here,” “I love my 60 year old sugar daddy,” and “I’m going to to kill myself.”

Equally entertaining, are the lists of inexplicable and un-sexy love-hotel names, such as “The Hippo Doctor”, “Hello Clown”, “Penguin Town”, “Love Monster’s Room” and “Banana and Donuts”.

Ed clearly has an encyclopedic knowledge of Japanese weirdness, and can now lay claim to the dubious honour of being the English speaking world’s leading authority on love hotels.
The book is so well researched that the guy has either really done his homework, or gets laid more often than Gene Simmons.

We even learn about the poor bastards who have to clean the rooms after the guests leave.
Indeed, the love hotel business is not all fun and games, as we learn from dark news reports of prostitution, adultery, murder and blackmail.
How would you feel if you discovered a rotting corpse under the mattress you’d just made sweet love on?; or if you walked into a video shop, only to discover a DVD on the adult shelf, featuring secretly filmed footage of you shagging somebody in a love hotel? These things have actually happened. Yikes!

Nevertheless, any adventurous couple traveling to Japan should definitely add a trip to a love hotel to their “to do” list.
The most useful part of Ed’s book is the listings and reviews of love hotels, ranging from the romantic to the totally bat-shit bonkers.
Among some of the more demented destinations that I’m keen to investigate (for a laugh, honest!) are a “Hello Kitty S & M”-themed room (?!), and an entire hotel themed around Yakuza-Snowmen (which can surely be erotic for no-one but the criminally insane).

“Love Hotels” is certainly an education, even for the most jaded of Japanophiles. You might, however, need to take a shower after reading it!

You can order the book or read samples at Ed’s site, Quirky Japan.


Japrocksampler

May 16, 2008

I’ve been reading “Japrocksampler” by Julian Cope (the eccentric singer, writer and acid-frazzled archaeologist.) It’s an enjoyable history of Japan’s unheralded rock mavericks, groundbreaking musicians who absorbed American rock n’ roll in the postwar years, and fed it through a filter of Japanese thought, culture and experience, to make something entirely new and weird.

Some of the records mentioned, from the likes of Brain Police and Flower Travellin’ Band (pictured on the book cover, riding motorbikes in the nude) sound utterly mental, and I’m eager to get down to the record shop and pick some of them up (even though they’re fairly obscure, even in Japan.)
You probably won’t have heard of most of these guys. TV and radio in Japan have rarely given exposure to independent or alternative artists, and even now only give airtime to those signed to a handful of major labels and agencies. And yet, if your explore the underground clubs of Koenji or Shimokitazawa, you would have a good chance of seeing some astonishing and unique musicians.
Japrocksampler is a good introduction to Japanese rock and roll, and is greatly helped by Cope’s enthusiastic, hyperbolic writing style.
He’s even started a website about obscure Japanese music which you can check out here.