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15 Fascinating Books to Learn Earlier than Visiting Japan

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15 books about Japan to read before you visit

I all the time prefer to examine a vacation spot earlier than I go to and Japan is ideal for this. It has a singular and interesting tradition and studying extra about it earlier than you go to will improve your enjoyment of the nation.

There’s a big vary of books about Japan together with memoirs, novels, and books on Japanese tradition. Listed here are a few of my favourites:

Non-Fiction Books About Japan

A Geek in Japan, one of the best books about Japanese culture

1) A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony by Hector Garcia

A Geek in Japan is a superb introduction to Japanese tradition together with a short historical past of the nation that explains that the Japanese are so totally different as a result of they had been remoted from the remainder of the world for hundreds of years. The e-book covers each conventional tradition resembling sumo and tea ceremonies in addition to trendy Japanese enterprise and youth tradition.

A few of it’s a little dated—you received’t see many manga magazines anymore as everyone seems to be studying on their telephones—but it surely’s an fascinating learn and will assist keep away from cultural misunderstandings.

Lost Japan, one of the best books aboutJapan

2) Lost Japan by Alex Kerr

Half memoir, half exploration of Japanese tradition, Misplaced Japan was written by an American who has lived in Japan since he was a boy. He loves the nation however isn’t afraid to criticise how issues are altering and his fears that conventional Japanese tradition and humanities can be misplaced. His explorations embody thatched roof homes, Kabuki theatre, artwork, and calligraphy.
Untangling My Chopsticks, a memoir set in Kyoto, Japan

3) Untangling My Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto by Victoria Abbott Riccardi

Untangling My Chopsticks is a memoir by a younger American girl who travels to Kyoto to study tea kaiseki, the intricate multi-course meal that’s historically served earlier than a tea ceremony.

It’s an pleasurable learn and also you’ll be taught heaps about Japanese meals and tradition. As a vegetarian, I appreciated the ultimate part on shojin ryori, the Zen Buddhist vegetarian delicacies the place tea kaiseki originated.

Rice Noodle Fish, a book about Japanese food

4) Rice Noodle Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding

It doesn’t make sense for a vegetarian like me to get pleasure from this e-book as I can eat nearly nothing described right here. Regardless of this, I discovered it a compelling perception into Japanese meals tradition from comfort shops to kaiseki and every thing in between. It explores why Japanese meals is so good—partly due to the shokunin cooks who dedicate their lives to cooking one kind of meals completely. This can be a must-read for foodies.
Yokohama Yankee, a book about foreigners in Japan

5) Yokohama Yankee: My Family’s Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan by Leslie Helm

Yokohama Yankee is an interesting have a look at life for foreigners in Japan starting with the creator’s great-grandfather who arrived within the nation from Germany within the mid-19th century, simply after it had opened as much as outsiders. Regardless of 5 generations of the Helm household residing in Japan, operating a enterprise there, and even marrying locals, they by no means really combine.
Geisha, A Life, a memoir about life as a geisha in Japan

6) Geisha, A Life by Mineko Iwasaki

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden is without doubt one of the most well-known novels about Japan. Golden used interviews with Iwasaki, the most effective geishas of her technology, to tell his work however she was sad with the end result that portrays geisha as prostitutes, which she denies.

Geisha, A Life is her response to the novel—an actual memoir of a geisha concerning the ups and downs of life as a well-known high-class dancer and entertainer in Gion, Kyoto. It’s not as dramatic because the novel and the writing is a bit of dry, however I used to be fascinated with this hidden world. Notice that within the UK the e-book known as Geisha of Gion.

Tokyo on Foot, a quirky illustrated guide to Tokyo, Japan

7) Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City’s Most Colorful Neighborhoods by Florent Chavouet

For one thing totally different do that enjoyable and delightful illustrated memoir by a French man who strikes to Tokyo for six months. He paperwork his expertise by drawing Tokyo’s streets and folks and incorporates his observations about life in Japan. Whereas it’s not a journey information, it does offer you an introduction to town’s totally different neighbourhoods. The e book doesn’t work nicely on a daily Kindle however seems nice on an iPad.

Novels Set in Japan

Shogun, one of the best novels set in Japan

8) Shōgun by James Clavell

Shōgun is an epic novel about an English sailor who finally ends up on the shores of feudal Japan in 1600. At first he’s reviled as a barbarian foreigner however he step by step integrates into Japanese tradition, turns into a samurai, and falls in love.

It’s 1000 pages lengthy and it took me some time to get into, however after I did I couldn’t cease studying. Though it’s fiction, it’s based mostly on actual characters and is an interesting perception into samurai life.

A Tale for the Time Being, one of my favourite Japan reads.

9) A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

I adored this novel a few Canadian author who finds the diary of a Japanese teenager washed up on the shores of her distant island. She turns into engrossed on this troubled teen’s life in Tokyo. The e-book covers subjects as wide-ranging as the character of time, Zen Buddhism, quantum mechanics, kamikaze pilots in WW2, cyberbullying, and the atmosphere.

It’s clever however readable, has partaking characters, and reveals a darker aspect of the customarily idealised Japan.

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, historical fiction set in Japan

10) The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama

The Road of a Thousand Blossoms is ready in Tokyo throughout WW2 and the twenty years after. It tells the story of two brothers, every with a ardour for a Japanese artwork type—sumo wrestling and creating Noh theatre masks—which might be steeped in custom.

We be taught of the household’s horrific struggles through the warfare and I realised how not often I’ve learn concerning the warfare from the opposite aspect’s perspective. It’s a novel about household, love, loss, custom, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Pachinko, a fascinating novel about Koreans in Japan

11) Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko is an excellent engrossing novel about 4 generations of a Korean household who moved to Japan within the early 20th century. As in Yokohama Yankee it was stunning to learn how tough it was for foreigners to combine into the nation and the way even third technology immigrants born in Japan had been refused citizenship and handled as inferior.

Novels by Japanese Authors

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami, one of the best Japanese authors.

12) Anything by Haruki Murakami

Murakami is probably the most well-known Japanese creator internationally and I extremely advocate studying not less than one in every of his books. You received’t essentially be taught a lot about Japan from them, however all his books are sensible and plenty of have a big dose of magical realism.

You may’t actually go fallacious. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is a surreal basic, Norwegian Wood is extra life like fiction (and probably extra accessible), and I lately loved Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. As a runner and author, I’m additionally a giant fan of his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Snow Country a classic Japanese novel by author Yasunari Kawabata

15) Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

One other basic Japanese e-book, Snow Nation is a stark and lyrical story of a love affair between a geisha at an remoted scorching spring resort and a rich dilettante who’s incapable of loving her. There’s not a lot motion; it’s extra about capturing moments like in a haiku poem.

Spring Snow by Japanese author Yukio Mishima

14) Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima

Spring Snow is one other coming of age love story by Mishima, simply as superbly written however extra advanced. It portrays the connection between the son of a nouveau-riche household and the daughter of an impoverished however aristocratic household firstly of the 20th century when society was turning into extra westernised. I’m trying ahead to studying the remainder of the books on this Sea of Fertility tetralogy.

The Sound of Waves, a classic Japanese novel by Yukio Mishima

13) The Sounds of Waves by Yukio Mishima

This basic Japanese novel is an easy however lovely coming of age story a few love affair between a poor younger fisherman and the daughter of a rich ship proprietor. It’s set on a small island in Japan within the mid 20th century and I beloved the glimpse into the every day lives of the fishermen and diving ladies together with prayers on the Shinto temple and gossiping on the bathhouse.

What are your favorite books about Japan or by Japanese authors? Go away a remark beneath.

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Travel Books

10 Journey Memoirs to Encourage Your Subsequent Journey

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The best female travel memoirs about long-term travel to inspire your next trip

I’ve been which means to put in writing about the most effective journey books for a very long time however it was an amazing job as there are such a lot of to select from. To make it extra manageable I’m going to interrupt it down by class, largely by vacation spot as I like to learn as a lot as I can about a spot, each novels and non-fiction, earlier than I go to.

I’ve already written about the most effective books to learn earlier than visiting Japan and South Africa, and immediately I’ll share my picks for the most effective journey memoirs.

Most of those journey memoirs are about long-term journey, so they’re excellent in case you are contemplating a giant journey or making a significant life change. Armchair travellers will take pleasure in these enjoyable reads too. They’re all written by ladies and present that it’s potential to journey no matter age you might be and whether or not you might be single, in a pair, or have youngsters.

Love with a Chance of Drowning, one of the best travel memoirs

1) Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

Australian Torre meets a good-looking Argentinean in San Francisco and is swept off her toes. The issue is he’s about to set sail for the South Pacific on a small sailboat. Regardless of her seasickness and phobia of deep water, she decides to beat her fears and be part of him on the exhilarating and terrifying voyage. 

Love with a Probability of Drowning is a enjoyable and galvanizing learn that made us need to purchase a ship and discover the distant islands of the Pacific regardless of the challenges they confronted. Greater than only a love story or journey memoir, it’s a narrative about dwelling life to the complete regardless of your fears.

See our interview with Torre about her travels and the method of writing and publishing a ebook.

The Worrier's Guide to the End of the World, a travel memoir by Torre deRoche

2) The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World: Love, Loss, and Other Catastrophes—through Italy, India, and Beyond by Torre DeRoche

Torre’s sequel to Love with a Probability of Drowning is simply as great, humorous and poignant. In The Worrier’s Information to the Finish of the World she is battling grief when she makes an inspiring new good friend in Italy. Regardless of being totally unprepared she joins her on a strolling pilgrimage via Tuscany (heavenly) and India (surprising and difficult). It’s one other uplifting story of going through fears and anxiousness that I couldn’t put down.

How Not to Travel the World, a travel memoir by Lauren Juliff

3) How Not to Travel the World: Adventures of a Disaster-Prone Backpacker by Lauren Juliff

Lauren units off on a typical backpacking journey around the globe in her early 20s. The distinction is she suffers from debilitating anxiousness, is battling an consuming dysfunction, and has led a sheltered life—by no means earlier than even driving a bus or consuming rice.

She hopes journey will change her life—and it does, however alongside the way in which she suffers a collection of cringe-worthy disasters and hilarious mishaps. Regardless of these incidents and her ongoing fears, she continues to journey and stretch the boundaries of her consolation zone. It’s an entertaining learn and an excellent lesson in how not to journey the world.

The Yellow Envelope, one of my favourite travel memoirs

4) The Yellow Envelope: One Gift, Three Rules, and A Life-Changing Journey Around the World by Kim Dinan

Kim and her husband stop their jobs in Portland to journey the world indefinitely. Earlier than they go away buddies give them a novel present—a yellow envelope of cash to offer away on their travels to anybody who strikes them. There are solely three guidelines: do not overthink it; share your experiences; do not feel pressured to offer all of it away.

As they journey via Ecuador, Peru, Nepal, India and past it seems to be tougher than they anticipated and their relationship faces main challenges. The Yellow Envelope is an inspiring and trustworthy ebook, as a lot about Kim’s private journey because the locations they go to and the individuals they provide to alongside the way in which.

Married with Luggage, the perfect travel book for couples

5) Married with Luggage: What We Learned About Love by Traveling the World by Betsy and Warren Talbot

Married with Baggage is a component couple journey memoir, half love story. It tells the story of how Betsy and Warren turned their relationship round from the brink of divorce, stop their company jobs, and offered all the things they owned to journey the world at age 40.

It’s an trustworthy, partaking, and entertaining ebook that I devoured in two days. I liked studying about their humorous, embarrassing, and horrifying adventures together with storms in Antarctica, volcanoes in Ecuador, and dwelling with Mongolians in a ger within the Gobi Desert. However the ebook is greater than a journey story. Alongside the way in which Warren and Betsy examined the problems they skilled of their relationship and shared the teachings they realized which have made them nearer and stronger.

Mother Tongue, a family and language learning travel memoir

6) Mother Tongue: My Family’s Globe-Trotting Quest to Dream in Mandarin, Laugh in Arabic, and Sing in Spanish by Christine Gilbert

For households and language lovers, Mom Tongue is an inspiring story of Christine’s bold quest to be taught Mandarin in Beijing, Arabic in Lebanon, and Spanish in Mexico, with a toddler and less-enthusiastic husband in tow.

Issues don’t go fairly how she deliberate—air pollution in Beijing and political points in Beirut pressure them to go away early and he or she doesn’t attain the fluency ranges she hoped for. However it’s an fascinating learn with numerous analysis about language studying and exhibits how journey with youngsters is feasible—she even has one other child whereas dwelling in Mexico.

Wild, one of the best travel books

7) Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Wild most likely wants no introduction because the ebook and movie are actually world well-known, however I extremely advocate it if you happen to haven’t learn it but.

In her mid-20s Cheryl Strayed had misplaced all the things—her mom died, her marriage fell aside, and he or she fell right into a self-destructive life of medication and intercourse. With nothing to lose she makes an impulsive resolution to hike 1100 miles on the Pacific Crest Path alongside the west coast of America.

It’s a wonderful, brutally trustworthy, and uncooked account of the psychological and bodily challenges she faces on the path and the way it in the end healed her.

I additionally love the phrases of knowledge she shares in her ebook Tiny Beautiful Things and podcast Dear Sugars

Tale of a Female Nomad travel book

8) Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman

On the age of 48 and on the verge of divorce, Rita offered her possessions and have become a nomad. She lived in a Zapotec village in Mexico, slept with sea lions on the Galapagos Islands, noticed orangutans within the rain forest of Borneo, visited trance healers and dens of black magic, and cooked with ladies on fires all around the world. 

This isn’t a typical backpacker journey as Rita has a knack for actually attending to know the individuals and tradition of a spot and it’s inspiring to see that it’s by no means too late to journey.

What I was doing while you were breeding, a hilarious female travel story

9) What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristin Newman

Whereas the books above contain long-term journey, 30-something Kristin takes a distinct strategy to exploring the world. Whereas her buddies are getting married and having youngsters, she has no urge to cool down and takes brief breaks between her jobs as a tv author for solo adventures.

Alongside the way in which she has steamy amorous affairs in Argentina, Israel, Brazil, Russia and past. It’s a hilarious and entertaining learn, particularly for girls who don’t need to conform to society’s expectations.

Eat Pray Love, one of the best travel books

10) Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

The ebook so many individuals like to hate! Nicely, I really like Eay Pray Love and assume you need to ignore the snobbery and provides it a go (even if you happen to’ve seen the movie). In her early 30s, Elizabeth Gilbert has all the things you might be purported to need—a loving husband, stunning home, and profitable profession—however she feels trapped and depressing.

She leaves all of it behind to spend a yr of self-discovery in three very totally different locations—Italy, India and Bali. These are three of my favorite locations so it’s no surprise that I really like studying about her immersion in these cultures, the locals she meets, and the enjoyment she finds alongside the way in which.

The place are the writers of color?

As I completed penning this record I realised how white it’s. Whereas I’ve learn and liked many journey books by black and Asian writers, they’re normally centered on a specific place and I’ll share these in my vacation spot ebook lists (like South Africa and Japan). Discovering long-term journey memoirs by writers of color is a tougher job so I’d love to listen to your ideas. Within the meantime, I’ve added these travel memoirs by black women writers to my studying record. There’s additionally Go Girl! a 20-year-old assortment of journey tales by black ladies, however sadly it’s not obtainable for Kindle. 

I hope these journey books encourage your subsequent journey! What are your favorite journey memoirs? Depart a remark under.

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Here are 10 of the best travel memoirs to inspire your next trip!



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