Category Archives: Japan: Books

Book reviews about books on Japan, Asia, or just books that are of interest for foreigners living in Japan

Japan furious about new book: “Princess Masako – Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne”

Book Cover Princess Masako - Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum ThroneJapan’s extreme sensitivity over its royal family was laid bare yesterday when it reacted furiously to an unauthorised biography of its most famous – and controversial – princess, entitled “Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne; the Tragic True Story of Japan’s Crown Princess” (Click title to see the book on

Japan’s Imperial Family, the oldest royal dynasty with a 2600 year history has been somewhat in danger due to the fact that even after 13 years of marriage, Princess Masako, and Crown Prince Naruhito could not bear a boy to succeed the throne. They are both now well into their 40s, and after suffering a miscarriage in 1999 they have given birth to only one child, Aiko – a daughter (with the help of IVF treatment). Even the birth this year of a new son and heir to her sister-in-law Princess Kiko has done little to relieve Masako’s stress Continue reading Japan furious about new book: “Princess Masako – Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne”

Outrage Over Racist “Anti-Gaijin” Magazine

外人犯罪裏ファイル Gaijin Hanzai Ura FileThe Japanese government has just released their crime statistics for 2006, which show crimes by non-permanent resident foreigners in Japan are down 16.2% from a record high logged the year before. Unfortunately not everyone was impressed with these figures. A few days ago word broke out on foreign activist and anti-racism campaigner Arudou Debito’s site of a new very racist, and particularly “anti-gaijin in Japan” magazine called 外人犯罪裏ファイル (gaijin hanzai ura fairu), which has been variously translated as “Shocking Foreigner Crime: The Undercover File” or “Secret Files of Foreigners’ Crimes”. The magazine was widely available Continue reading Outrage Over Racist “Anti-Gaijin” Magazine

“Tokyo Underworld” – The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan Book Review: Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan

The good thing about the mob (or the Yakuza) in Japan is that they rarely involve innocent bystanders in their sometimes violent dealings, so it’s easy to forget the fact that they are still active on nearly every street corner of major cities of Japan. Incidents like the “Yakuza” killing the other day certainly bring home the reality of their existence and offer a rare insight into the power struggles that are going on everyday. Given the high gaijin population in Azabu/Roppongi, these most recent broad daylight killings are sure to invoke at least a little bit of anxiety in readers. Are you afraid? Continue reading “Tokyo Underworld” – The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan

Book Review: “Target China’s ‘New Rich’ With Your Net Shop (ネットショップで中国の富裕層(ニューリッチ)を狙え!)”

Yangs publicationsTarget China’s “New Rich” With Your Net Shop (click here to view the book on

The concept that Yang Mingyi (楊 鳴一) presents in this book is so amazingly simple that you’ll kick yourself for not thinking of it first. Everyone can think of a product that they’d like to sell to the Chinese, but very few of us have the linguistic ability, business acumen or experience (let alone the money) to set up shop in China. If Web 2.0 is all about targeting the long tail, then surely China must be the perfect candidate. Yang’s book is all about empowering the China-novice (you and me) to target it with minimum expense.

Yang is the CEO of United Cities Japan (UCJ, and recently took the time to explain his business model to He modestly refers to Continue reading Book Review: “Target China’s ‘New Rich’ With Your Net Shop (ネットショップで中国の富裕層(ニューリッチ)を狙え!)”

Book Review: “Mao – The Unknown Story”

“Mao- The Unknown Story” (Click here to view the book on

We should be glad that the Chinese funded communist movements in Japan never gained momentum.

This book by Jung Chang (also know for Wild Swans), is apparently the first time anyone has taken a really deep look into Mao Tse-tung’s reign over China, from the inside, and published such a whopper of a biography.

The Daily Mail said “Few books are destined to change history, but this one will”.

I had never read a book on Chinese history that said anything like this. High-school history class told me that The Cultural Revlution took China from being a backward barbaric country, to a civilised modern country. Ms. Burrows neglected to mention the immense human carnage, and the fact that this was a small part of a much larger plan by one man to in fact take over the entire world, including Japan. Continue reading Book Review: “Mao – The Unknown Story”

Book Review: “Barbarians at the Gate”

Barbarians at the gate

“Barbarians at the Gate” (Click to view the book on

* Advice for a busy gaijin: If you are in a rush start reading from chapter seven.

When the Portuguese first approached Japan by sea in 1542, they were not at all welcome. As far as the Japanese were concerned, they were happy in their quiet world and called these unrefined intruders “nanbanjin” or “Southern Barbarians” because the ships came from the South. This book has nothing to do with our Portuguese friends, it is about the hostile takeover over RJR Nabisco in the late 1980s. The scene isn’t Japan, but I’m sure the people in the quiet town of Winston-Salem might have found solace in Japanese history as they combated the Northern barbarians who robbed them of their local icon. (I’ll let the reader decide who the real barbarians were.)

There are only a few finance books about the greed of the 80s which have stood the test of time. Stick with Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis if you are interested in a quick and entertaining read about the eccentricities of traders and the other famous players of the day. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a slightly more detail oriented story explaining what happened behind the scenes in the less well understood world of leveraged buyouts, then this is the book for you. Continue reading Book Review: “Barbarians at the Gate”