A Tokyo Romance by Ian Buruma

A Tokyo Romance

A classic memoir of self-invention in a strange land: Ian Buruma's unflinching account of his amazing journey into the heart of Tokyo's underground culture as a young man in the 1970'sWhen Ian Buruma arrived in Tokyo in 1975, Japan was little more than an idea in his mind, a fantasy of a distant land. A sensitive misfit in the world of his upper middleclass youth, what he longed for wasn't so much the exotic as the raw, unfiltered humanity he had...

Details A Tokyo Romance

TitleA Tokyo Romance
Release DateMar 6th, 2018
PublisherPenguin Press
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Cultural, Japan, Nonfiction, Biography, Travel, Asia, Biography Memoir

Reviews A Tokyo Romance

  • Tosh
    Over the years, and especially going back and forth from Japan, I have read many books by fellow Americans and some British citizens on their time spent in Japan. A lot of them are crap. The ones that stand out are the ones that wrote about Japanese cinema and literature. The girls or guys who went there to get a job as an English teacher are usually not that interesting, but alas, those who are devoted to a specific Japanese artist or thinker, t...
  • Stephen Durrant
    This memoir is both a poignant account of Buruma's romance with Japan, a romance that both succeeds and fails, and also a compelling "insider" account of 1970s Japanese avant-garde culture, particularly the theater of Juro Kara. Buruma confronts an old problem with insight and sympathy--the inability of the gaijin, however much energy he might pour into the effort, to ever be accepted in Japan as anything other than an exotic outsider (so-called ...
  • Sara
    I was prepared to love this book and looked forward to a trip down memory lane since I was also in Japan during the time period Buruma is writing about. But it's more of a brag about his own youthful sexual exploits and unless you have a really strong interest in Japanese cinema, a lot of this is old hat and just another gaijin in Japan story. There were moments when he did express some deeper and more interesting thoughts so the book is not a to...
  • Jim Coughenour
    An unfinished book that regularly reappears on my bedside table is The Donald Richie Reader: 50 Years of Writing on Japan, or its alternate, The Japan Journals: 1947-2004. Richie arrived in Japan in 1947 and ended up enjoying the rest of his life there – the journals, writings on Japanese cinema and culture (not to mention, The Inland Sea), never lose their charm for me. Richie appears in the first sentence of Buruma’s new book, and I was gui...
  • Charlie
    A great source of reading ideas for me these days is the weekly NYTimes Book Review "By The Book" column where I was first introduced to Ian Buruma who I hadn't heard of before. The idea of this book resonated with me as my wife and I spent two years in Japan. Buruma was attracted to Japan by the Japanese cinema and spent much of his time there among some of the most radical, innovative theatrical producers and movie directors in the country at t...
  • Jim Coleman
    Exceptional meditation/memoir of the author's years in Japan in the mid-70's, mostly as a student. Do not look to this to help you understand Japan or the Japanese. Such understanding would come obliquely, as the author examines his "otherness" vis-a-vis both the Japanese and Westerners as well.Buruma has a Dutch father and an English mother. His mother brought him up with a lot of English traditions which led to his feeling apart in Holland. The...
  • Stephen Douglas Rowland
    Uninspired. And at least 60% of the material here can be found in other (better) books by Buruma.
  • Adriana
    Buruma spent several years in Japan experiencing all he could about the post-war, avant-garde theater scene in Tokyo. It’s incredibly interesting to get such a privileged view of the somewhat crazy and hyper-cultural counter culture of Japan in the 70s, even more so when it comes from an outsider/foreigner who managed to luck into some very rare opportunities. Every troupe and individual worth mentioning in the time period is someone Buruma eit...
  • Gayle Zawilla
    West meets East and past meets future in this somewhat self-indulgent retrospective into the “gaijin” author’s foray into the creative, if sometimes seedy, underground culture of 1970s Tokyo. It reads like an ethnography in parts, which I guess it is. I was given an advance copy courtesy of LitHub First Readers’ Club Book Giveaway (thank you).
  • Mboconnor31
    Fascinating tale, memoir. It starts off with a privileged baby boomer from Holland, albeit his mother is a Jewish woman from a England whose brother was John Schlesinger, director of the iconic 1969 film Midnight Cowboy. The description of the upheaval of the 60s was interesting mainly because it showed how similar the scene was in Europe and US. The author is drawn to Japan, having a Japanese girlfriend, where he remains for six years.He is invo...
  • Sam Law
    This is a memoir, by the editor of the New York Review of Books, which takes us largely to his life in Japan, between 1975 and 1981.Read More Book Reviews on my blog It's Good To Read SummaryA restless, bored, middle-class youth in the Netherlands, Buruma felt that he never fit in to his own society, that he was always on the fringes, the outsider looking in. He travels to Japan, where he explores both his emerging self, and the Japanese film an...
  • Patrick McCoy
    Ian Buruma is one of my favorite public intellectuals due to the variety of subjects he explores in his writing, Asia and Europe, religion and history among other others. However, he cut his teeth in Japan and that is where I first came across his writing in the fascinating Behind the Mask, which had some interesting insights into Japanese culture-particularly literature and film. So I had somewhat high expectations for this memoir, A Tokyo Roman...
  • Marjan Kloosterman
    Gaijn, buitenstaander zijn en blijven in Japan. Als Gaijn kan je het leven met kalme onthechting observeren zonder aan iemand iets verplicht te zijn, vertelt Donald Richie, een Amerikaan die jaren in Japan woont, en Buruma inwijdt in de Japanse cultuur en kunstwereld. Ian Buruma vertrok op jongen leeftijd naar Japan om zich los te maken van het eigen milieu en kennis te maken met een totaal andere wereld als Japan was en is. Hij schrijft zich in ...
  • Patricia
    3.5 stars“You know,” he said, before we parted company at the Hongo subway station, “you have to be a romantic to live in Japan. A person who feels complete, who does not question who he is, or his place in the world, will dislike it here. To be constantly exposed to such a radically different culture becomes unbearable. But to a romantic, open to other ways of being, Japan is full of wonders. Not that you will ever belong here. But that wi...
  • Riet
    In dit boek een heel andere kant van de schrijver Buruma. Als jonge student woont hij 6 jaar in Japan, van 1975 tot 1981. Dat is de tijd van het surrealistische theater en film. Hij dompelt zich onder in het milieu van acteurs, schrijvers en filmmakers. De intentie is om helemaal thuis te raken tussen de Japanners, maar dat blijkt een illusie. Een vreemdeling (gaijin) wordt in Japan nooit helemaal geaccepteerd. Waar wel trouwens? Buruma beschrijf...
  • Jenny
    This is a memoir about a "gaijin" (a white person) in Japan in the late '70s. I was surprised at the contemporary films, theater, and art scene described (at times reminiscent of what I've read about the Andy Warhol scene at the Factory in its outrageousness). Ultimately everything had a foreign feel, but what resonated for me was the attempted immersion into another culture described in this book.Thanks to First to Read- Penguin Books USA for th...
  • Marianne Meyers
    One of the best memoirs of a place and time that I've ever read. His observational abilities are excellent. If you've been a student travelling and living in a foreign country, this will speak to you. He also followed many avant garde performers during his time there which is also very fascinating.
  • Anthony
    NYRB editor's memoir of time spent in Japan, initially as an exchange student at Nihon University, embedded in the country's avant garde theater and film scene. Not really a primer on the arts scene of the time, but enough to provoke interest in the works of Kara Juro, Donald Richie, and Oshima Nagisa among others. Will recommend to non-Japanophiles as a reminder of how large the world is.
  • Kent
    I found the book enjoyable, but the title misleading.I was expecting more about the relationship of the author with the city. Instead it dealt more with his interactions with people within the avant-garde theater scene as well as travels within the country. Still very interesting, but not what was expected.
  • Susanne
    Quite a story, though occasionally a bit tedious. Best for those with an interest in modern Japan & Japanese theatre history.
  • Vicki
    This was a DNF for me. Just not my type of book.
  • Bevan
    A very disappointing book from this writer and essayist.
  • Sam May
    Very interesting read about an expat’s experience in the elusive Japanese way of life and the clash of cultures between gaijin and Japanese.
  • Michelle Olms
    Great book
  • T
    4.5It was fascinating to learn about Ankoku Butoh, a modern Japanese form "invented" by Hijikata in the late 1950's as a deliberately grotesque aesthetic reaction against Western ballet and classical Japanese dance. Rebelling against ballet, what a unique idea. Some dances might include rape scenes, castration, or a live chicken killed during the performance. I liked knowing that this art form exists in the world, just because.
  • bookreader
    As the author himself admits, John Nathan's Japan memoir is both more interesting & impressive.