A Geek in Japan is your complete guide to Japanese culture and society. Written by an English speaking Spaniard living in Tokyo for the past 10 years, Héctor García, the book flows from Japan’s ancient history through to its modern technological domination.

The book is packed full of the author’s own photos, from his Japan home town of Tokyo, and from travels all around the country.

A Geek in Japan  (book cover)
NIKON D5200 (32mm, f/4.8, 1.6 sec, ISO100)
A Geek in Japan, by Héctor García

A Geek In Japan is a great read for those about to travel Japan, and also fascinating for anyone just generally interested in Japan. The 12 chapters cover:

  • The origins of Japanese culture
  • The traditional arts and disciplines
  • The unique Japanese character
  • Curiosities and symbols
  • The Japanese at work
  • The Japanese society and life
  • Japan today
  • The world of manga and anime
  • Modern Japanese music
  • Movies and television
  • Visiting Tokyo
  • Around Japan

The most interesting ideas explored in this book are sub-cultures within cultures, such as: music, pop and fashion genres; “the way”「dō, 道」, like Shinto, the tea ceremony (cha-dō), the way of the warrior (bushi-dō), the way of the sword (ken-dō); cinema and TV.

I have just two criticisms… whoever proof read this book did a poor job, there are a fair few grammar errors and typos. Also the book is very Tokyo focused when talking about travel, which can be a good thing for some, but he totally dismisses places like Okayama. A few short sentences talk about Okayama, mentioning only Korakuen in Okayama City, saying “apart from the garden though, there is hardly anything else of interest” – ignoring Okayama Castle (which can be seen from the gardens), the historic Kurashiki just half an hour away and Bitch Matsuyama Castle (1 of just 12 original castles in Japan) less than 1 hour away.

But this book isn’t about travel, it’s about gaining a deeper understanding of who the Japanese really are.

But in one of those criticisms is a bonus: if you’re interested in Tokyo there are some great local tips for places to explore. There’s an entire chapter dedicated to Tokyo, giving insights into the major areas, and also a few “secret places”.

This book answers many questions travelers to Japan would have, and explain many of the curiosities seen in any travel around the country. I most enjoyed the detailed explanations of the elements found at Japanese temples and shrines, giving a deeper understanding of the most visited sites in Japan.

Win a copy of this book!

Tuttle Publishing are giving away one copy of A Geek in Japan, enter at the giveaway tab on Japan Travel Mate’s Facebook page. Entries are open to all countries and close 1 April 2015.

Buy A Geek in Japan from Amazon (also available on Kindle).