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 experienced in Japanese theater performances and films, witnessed in Amsterdam and Paris. One particular theater troupe, directed by a poet of runaways, outsiders, and eccentrics, was especially alluring, more than a little frightening, and completely unforgettable. If Tokyo was anything like his plays, Buruma knew that he had to join the circus as soon as possible.Tokyo was an astonishment. Callow and unformed, Buruma found a feverish and surreal metropolis where nothing was understated, and everything shouted for attention--neon lights, crimson lanterns, Japanese pop, advertising jingles, cabarets, and PA systems. He encountered a city in the midst of an economic boom where everything seemed new, aside from the isolated temple or shrine that had survived the firestorms and earthquakes that had levelled the city during the past century. History remained in fragments: the shapes of wounded World War Two veterans in white kimonos, murky old bars that Mishima had cruised in, and the narrow alleys where street girls had once flitted. Buruma's Tokyo, though, was a city engaged in a radical transformation. And through his adventures in the world of avant garde theater, his encounters with carnival acts, fashion photographers, and moments on-set with Akira Kurosawa, Buruma underwent a radical transformation of his own. For an outsider, unattached to the cultural burdens placed on the Japanese, this was a place to be truly free. A Tokyo Romance is a portrait of a young artist and the fantastical city that shaped him. With his signature acuity, Ian Buruma brilliantly captures the historical tensions between east and west, the clash of conflicting cultures, and the dilemma of the gaijin in Japanese society, constantly free, yet always on the outside. The result is a timeless story about the desire to transgress boundaries: cultural, artistic, and sexual....
|Title||:||A Tokyo Romance: A Memoir|
|Number of Pages||:||256 pages|
|Url Type||:||Home » Download » A Tokyo Romance: A Memoir|
A Tokyo Romance: A Memoir Reviews
As the author himself admits, John Nathan's Japan memoir is both more interesting & impressive.
It 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.
I read a chapter of this book and have no desire to continue. The description makes it sound fascinating, but I found the prose scattered and a bit morose.
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 "gaijinitis"). Ironically, he argues, the more ade ...more