Dave Barry Does Japan Audio CD – Audiobook, CD
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Is this comedic tour of Japan discreet, tasteful, or politically correct? The answer, thank god, is Naaah! Yet Dave Barry's travelogue never grows mean-spirited, and he's always ready to laugh at his own country--and by extension, himself. An example: "I understand that, even if two Japanese have worked together for many years, neither would dream of using the other's first name. Whereas Americans are on a first-name basis immediately, and by the end of the first day have generally graduated to 'Yo, Butthead!'" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
A first-class all-expenses-paid three-week vacation in Japan, underwritten by his publisher, provides Miami Herald columnist and humorist Barry with material for some tired gags about language problems, kowtowing, eating and other quick-take visitor befuddlements in the land of the rising sun. Dutifully covering the standard tourist attractions, including Hiroshima, Mount Fiji and the pearl factories, he presents himself as a sort of Everyman-in-Japan-for-the-first-time, fueling his jokes with his ignorance of the language, history and culture. Although much of the humor is strained or tasteless, on occasion readers can laugh without embarrassment. Nevertheless this made-to-order book will likely find a made-to-order audience among fans of such previous titles as Dave Barry Slept Here.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
What was so funny?
Dave Barry's ability to be so incredibly insightful with his own reactions to very common situations in Japan (but more specifically, Tokyo and big city life) and then compare and contrast them with "the American Way of Doing Things".
I've lived in Tokyo for more than 3 years, but I'm not new to living "overseas" so it wasn't the un-Americanness that grabbed me, although I can appreciate it; I haven't lived in America since 1985. Dave describes in detail most Westerner's first reactions to Japan, whether they know it or not themselves or admit to it. His observations were my own and had been sitting dormant in my mind until I read his book upon which I howled with acknowledgement (what is the love affair with corn all about anyways; corn chowder at McDonald's?)
I love living in Japan; the people are kind and honest (ok, politicians in every country are crooked), it's safe (6 year-old kids run around by themselves even in Tokyo!), the food is wonderful and Tokyo is ugly as sin, but never, ever boring.
Many Kanji (Chinese ideograms) are finally looking less like Dave's chicken scratch to me, I know that even taxi drivers have trouble finding some places, it's second nature to slurp my ramen and I less often have to feel like an anxious dog looking for something familiar/train station name as I ride the trains.
But...I will always feel like a large white waterbuffalo lumbering down the streets here (most of my Japanese friends wear size 0 or 00 jeans!).
My only question is, how did he get the picture so accurately in only 2 weeks!
"I found myself weeping, out of sorrow and helplessness and guilt. But I also felt anger. Because the way the museum presents it, the atomic bomb was like a lightning bolt--something nobody could forsee, and nobody could prevent. It was as though one day, for no reason, the Americans came along, literally out of the blue, and did this horrible thing to these innocent people.
"I don't know if it's possible to justify what happened to Hiroshima--I certainly wouldn't try to justify it to the victims' families. But I found myself wanting to shout to the other museum visitors: Do you know WHY my country did this? Do you wonder what would make a civilized country do such a thing?"
This is the point where I really lost interest in the book. Sure, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite evident that Dave Barry just does not get it when it comes to this matter. Yes, why, indeed, would a "civilized" country do such a thing? Certainly because it had no other choice, because they were forced to do so by the knowledge that were the Americans to invade Japan itself, it would actually face resistence from millions of civilians--something the Americans would themselves do.Read more ›
Barry does use Japan to take a hard look at American values and attitudes and the book does succeed there. But, he totally misses the Japanese spirit, mocking Shinto Temples as places too boring for him, and Sumo as nothing more than a bunch of naked fat guys wrestling (its not: its built on centuries of tradition and involves nuances and martial arts techniques lost on Barry).
And food? He spends the whole trip in Japan -- a country with a rich culinary tradition --eating nothing but KFC and Pizza and mocking the rest. Hee Hee, Ha Ha.
There is humor in Japan, but not in this Book. I only hope its never translated into Japanese. Its an embarrassment.
I started off enjoying this book a great deal. And I finished the book enjoying it a great deal. And I highly suggest it for anyone living in Japan or anyone who's remotely interested in travel. Its hilarious. The best moment for me was Chapter 2. I shared this chapter with the English Club I teach once a week and it was refreshing to find that the Japanese are also befuddled by the "Elevator Ladies."
3 Weeks in a place where you've suddenly stepped off of the plane and become illiterate can be extremely alienating, and Dave Barry has done the best to exemplify that alienation. I have read enough complaints from people living in Japan; Barry was refreshingly funny. Definitely a good read if you want to wallow in a spirit of I-Hate-Japan.
I was nearly in tears while reading about becoming accustomed to bowing. And his assesment of Japanese driving is right on the money.
In a country where you shouldn't stick out, I got quite the number of stares from my coworkers as I laughed out loud.
Then there's the Hiroshima chapter, which is definitely a step into a different book. I paid particular attention to it as I am taking a trip to Hiroshima this weekend. I agree with his assessment of August 5 becoming like Memorial Day, though other reviewers have made comments about his rant about "WHY" so I will leave that alone. It definitely ruined what was shaping up to be a five-star review.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
THis is super funny, I read it in 2 sittings.
I lived in Japan for about 2 years when I was teaching English and I can tell you that this is a funny, accuarate description... Read more
The publisher's blurb claims that this "funny" book is not mean spirited, yet its author's attempt at humour is at the expense of sacred, centuries-old Japanese tradition... Read morePublished on May 13 2004 by D. N Rioux
This is the funniest book ever. A true pick-me-up and a fun family favorite. I love Dave Barry's views and respect for the Japanese culture.Published on April 20 2004 by Heidi
Dave Barry spent 3 weeks in Japan. The end result is this book. I did like it very much though. The experiences he writes about are indicative of what those who live here have to... Read morePublished on March 20 2004 by Jim Richards
I came across this book while in Japan ten years ago. I started laughing out loud in the bookstore, continued laughing, while reading on the train ride back, and continue laughing... Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2004 by Inci Kaya
I purchased this book on impulse and it was enough to get me hooked to this guy. The book was written a little while ago, it still holds true. Read morePublished on Jan. 24 2003 by Jai, The Seeker
I am a huge Dave Barry fan, but I agree with a few of the others here-- his sharp wit is definitely missing from this one. It just didn't make me laugh. Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2003 by Jonathan R. Wing
This book was a gas. My favorite part was the part that compared the American to Japanese auto industry. Anyone who finds this book 'ethnocentric' or offensive is just sad. Read morePublished on April 6 2002 by John Doe
...P>Don't get me wrong - I'm big fan of Mr. Barry's: I think I've managed to read most of his published works and generally found myself laughing through most of them. Read morePublished on March 26 2002 by Robert H Hori