Showed up at her host family s house and proceeded to be annoyed they aren t contemporary American in their views about ender roles and that they re what we would call passive aggressive here in the States but there normal and she only seemed to figure that out in the last
couple of chaptersof chapters being there almost a full year It s like she did absolutely no research and expected magic to happen W Of All The Foreign Of all the foreign living in Japan memoirs I ve read in my day this is my least favorite While there were a few clever descriptions or turns of phrase here and there the condescending tone and extreme hyperbole really put me off A humorous exaggeration is one thing but constantly doing so is annoying and in a memoir it s unforgivable How can the uninitiated know when you re being authentic and when you re just playing it up for laughs In a related vein there were plenty of subtle errors that also furrowed my brow such as we re well into dessert salty pickled suid pg 38 I don t doubt that pickled suid would be served as a last course at a traditional restaurant but I know for certain no Japanese would consider it dessert just because it was served last Little things like that small but definite wrongs piled up and pushed me from vaguely enjoying this into actively disliking it Perhaps that is persnickety but when it comes to Japan I am very picky Our differences are obvious from the very first day Yukiko is very traditional I am not She is uite sure for example that all these newfangled cooking devices like microwaves break down food I ve done nothing to disabuse her of this notion because there is only one microwave in the house and it is now conveniently located on my kitchen counterThis is a story of about the author Karin Muller s attempt to ingratiate herself into the world of Japan Not the touristy superficial world but the real Godmanstone Blues get to know the people Japan Muller does a marvelous job in this witty and well written account of her year in the land of Nippon Her ceaseless vigilance is making an impression For the first time in my life I feeluilty about putting the toilet paper roll on backward Until now I never even knew that toilet paper had a front and back I resent feeling uilty so I refuse on principle to turn it facing forward Then I worry that Yukiko will see it so I use it up as uickly as I can and hope the next one will end up the right way aroundWhat I really loved about this book is that I learned so much I always prided myself on my knowledge of the world and like Karin I approached this journey although mine was the written kind certain that I had a ood foundation on which to set out She uickly came to discover how little she really knew and how much her own cultural values stood in her way of living a Japanese way of lifeMuller is brave optimistic and doesn t My Name is Abu Salem give up I really enjoyed traveling across Japan with her An interesting recount of a writer and documentarian s year in Japan While there were scenes and conversations captured in this memoir that I found insightful I also found that this book was written from a very America centric perspective Which was surprising coming from someone as well travelled as Muller Her cultural analysis of Japan often takes the us vs them approach which I find populist and boring Muller s witty and imaginative recounts were enough to keep me reading but I can t imagine everoing back to her writing if I was looking to read somethin. Japan Broad in scope and deftly observed by an author with a rich visual sense of people and place Japanland is as beguiling as this colorful country of contradiction. .
Fitting and appropriate ending to this joyous and absorbing tale I highly recommend this book and the documentary film as well My friend Sara also on oodreads lent me this one and even the preface had me laughing The author Karin Muller is bravely daring a year in Japan seeking to understand what makes Japan so interesting yet so foreign She seeks wa a type of focus or harmony Is it possible for a foreigner to learn this Muller is using herself as the test subject and already having a rough time subjugating her own desire for independence and her own sense of self in order to please Yukiko san her host mother an exacting and imperious Japanese lady of the house Although I just started this one it does not seem it will be possible to please Yukiko san nor will it really be possible to become Japanese unless the author is willing and able to shed a reat deal of her own character Does that seem likely or desirable Nah Japanland is a fierce funny account of a filmmaker s desire to experience the harmony or wa she believes is found in traditional Japanese culture Muller lives in Japan for one year staying with a modern host family in suburban Tokyo for five months and in a variety of other locations for the rest of her time in the country She wrangles with the transportation system learns about the ancient arts of swordmaking and pottery encounters New Human Beings tries to be a Spitting Daisies Communicating Through the Sunset geisha for a day fails in her attempts to plant aarden and most hilariously stays in a monastery before oing on a particularly ill fated Buddhist pilgrimage It s not a typical travelogue Japanland reads like a cross between the candid diary of Lucy Ricardo and the wry social commentary of Cornelia Otis Skinner I found the narrative hysterically funny yet touching Muller is the exact opposite of introspective trying to cope on a daily basis leaves her no time for philosophizing and she cheerfully admits to her shortcomings just as I believe I would in her situation Having just finished reading Claire Dederer s yoga memoir Poser I couldn t help making comparisons and sorry Dederer comes up short again Worst book I ve read in YEARS Horrible horrible horrible Most first hand accounts of being a foreigner in Japan are annoying One is beaten over the accounts of being a foreigner in Japan are annoying One is beaten over the with first impressions the futile attempt to describe in minute detail what was seen heard smelled felt There s ALSO THE SOUL SEARCHING ENDING WITH the soul searching ending with realizations If you ve ever been to Japan or traveled to a foreign country yourself it s almost certainly contrary to your experience and entirely nauseating Karin Muller s memoir is none of these offensive things Her writing style is uick it s hard to even fathom the different experiences she describes in under three hundred pages Even one of them would be a rare experience for even the most seasoned tourist She doesn t beat you over the head with her profound realizations and even if she s not describing MY Japan I m content with her assessments and not rolling my eyes If anything I find Muller s book inspirational assured that if she could survive in Japan for a year I can too anywhere The author is one of the types of Western folk I encountered occasionally while living in Asia and always hoped would leave uickly to stop iving the rest of us a bad reputation Deciding that living in Japan would mystically cure her of her ennui was the first clue that I was oing to find this book annoying and sure enough she. Ered just how maddeningly complicated it is being Japanese In this book Muller invites the reader along for a uniuely American odyssey into the ancient heart of modern. ,
Karin Muller Ä 0 Summary,
Karin Muller has a very nice voice I liked her I thought she told her story well There were chapters and storylines I liked better than others and some I wasn t too moved by I liked hearing about her living accomidations and her relationships with the various people she ot to know The last 30 or so pages of the book were kind of a snooze for me I wasn t too into hearing about her last minute pilgrimage to bring her year to a really amazing zen like head I enjoyed hearing about her attempts to film the last train leaving Shinjuku and then staying at the men s capsule hotel At the end she kind of oes for that classic college thesis wrap up like oh everyone meant so much to me and are with me and each one was so reat and meaningful Well I have to say I would have been happier to hear her say something like Yukiko sorry I would occasionally chat with your husband who INVITED me to stay here and by doing so I sometimes Stumbling Giants: Transforming Canada's Banks for the Information Age got in the way of your vegetable chopping but Japanese customs shumstoms COME ON There is a decent way to treat people and then there is absurdity Throwing your vegetablearden onto the lawn and keeping it there so when your mother comes to visit she can she the train wreck that you created and be asshamed and dissappionted No babe that is not Japanese customs and poiteness and whatever That is just out of control bitchiness I was so relieved when you ot out of there Humorous insightful entertaining at times even poignant this companion volume to Karin Muller s multi part PBS documentary of the same name was a fascinating read At the beginning of the story Ms Muller makes a decision to leave her stale and unfulfilling life in Washington DC for a year in Japan ostensibly to study judo she s a black belt and film a documentary about the experience but really to to find wa a state of focus and harmony that she found in her judo instructors almost ethereal calm and inner strength Wa literally translates as circle or ring Her judo contacts in the United States find her a host family the Tanakas in Fugisawa about an hour from downtown Tokyo Genji is a sixth degree black belt and a highly successful businessman his wife Yukiko is the model of the perfect Japanese wife their daughter Junko is rapidly approaching an age where marriage is literally mandatory lest she lose an age where marriage is literally mandatory lest she lose her job and her place in the social order For six months Ms Muller enjoys the hospitality
of the Tanakas with mixed results and in so doing finds partthe Tanakas with mixed results and in so doing finds part the essence of Japan To find the rest she leaves their prosperous home under difficult circumstances and settles into a run down apartment on a crowded alley in Osaka maintained by a ay American expatriate who like many of the aijin earns his living by teaching English Capitalizing on her new found Freedom From The Strict from the strict restraints of the Tanaka home Ms Muller sets out on a variety of adventures throughout the Japanese countryside making friends exploring and occasionally pressing herself to the very limits of her physical endurance all the while searching for the elusive Wa She tracks down an obscure mountain cult attends a variety of local festivals and finally sets out on a 700 mile pilgrimage to some 88 Buddhist temples in honor of Kobo Daishi the patron saint of Japan in a final desperate uest for that elusive inner peace this pilgrimage is my last hope That she finds it in a completely unexpected place and in a completely accidental manner is During a year spent in Japan on a personal uest to deepen her appreciation for such Eastern ideals as commitment and devotion documentary filmmaker Karin Muller discov.