Japanese books

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This week I went to the bookstore and purchased five books. Three were in Japanese; two in English.

That might lead you to believe that I can read Japanese. I can't. The Japanese books were all non-fiction, well illustrated and easy to "decipher" without having to read too much.

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Today I made watermelon gelatin from this recipe.

Because I already have sufficient experience in the kitchen, it's pretty easy to figure out the recipes in a each monthly issue of Kyou no Ryouri. I don't need to read the methods too carefully and I know many of the necessary kanji. Sometimes an esoteric ingredient or an usual procedure sends me into the office for a dictionary, but generally, I get along with Japanese cookbooks just fine.

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A restaurant with a beautiful night view.

A step up in complexity, this dining guide is still pretty easy to figure out without much actual reading. I skip over the restaurant reviews and look at the pictures. And all books like this one have neat arrangements of the cogent facts - price range with a sample menu, address, phone number, map, hours and a chart of highlight points about the decor and atmosphere.

jp-showa30s.jpg
Showa 34 (1959) map of Jimbocho compared to today.

The last book is the most challenging. Though I can enjoy it with limited reading, when Tod & I sat together looking at it and he read and translated bits of it aloud, I wished I could read better than I do. The book compares pre-Olympic Tokyo to today, pointing out some of the things that are still around and some that are not. Alternating with the map spreads are photos and text describing the era and its fashion. Did you know that in Showa 36 (1961) the fads were seamless stockings and skiing? In Showa 32, everyone was going to charm school and the word "deluxe" entered the national vocabulary (in katakana, of course).

4 Comments


Can you give me a title/isbn for the pre-olympic Tokyo book? I lived at Yokota AFB from 1965 to 1968, and I'd love to see the comparison. (Yeah, I know, post-olympic, but I'd still find it interesting)

The title is 東京懐かしの昭和30年代歩地図 ISBN is4-408-00795-1

That last book looks pretty interesting to me too, tho I could read it not at all... Is there a map of Yoyogi area by any chance? Id love to see what the park looked like before it was a park!

Thanks! Amazon has it on the way.

There were several similar looking books mentioned by Amazon. Something titled "Tokyo's Vanished Scenery", and at least one more Showa 30's walking maps. I'm guessing many Japanese still view the 1950's with nostalgia.

Somewhere at home I have a map of the Chichibu Tama national park, published around 1966. I'm going to have to dig that out and compare with more recent purchases.

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Recent Comments

  • mike: Thanks! Amazon has it on the way. There were several read more
  • j-ster: That last book looks pretty interesting to me too, tho read more
  • Kristen: The title is 東京懐かしの昭和30年代歩地図 ISBN is4-408-00795-1 read more
  • mike: Can you give me a title/isbn for the pre-olympic read more

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