A Geek in Japan by Hector Garcia

In a nutshell… Japan – its history, people, traditions, culture and how to find your way around.

Strengths: A lot more detailed than on first glance.

Weaknesses: Some typos and the excessive use of the word ‘moreover’

Why I read it: I love Japan

Pages: 211

Published: 2011

Publisher: Tuttle Publishing


Rating: 9 out of 10

If you liked this, try: Lonely Planet Japan

A Geek in Japan is one of those books I saw on the shelf at my local bookstore and just had to have. I love Japan and I love to learn more about it. A Geek in Japan is deceiving though, in that it contains much more information than you think at first glance. Hector Garcia has obviously put a lot of time and effort into researching this book, which delves into many aspects of Japan. It includes history, social structures (I learned more from this book than I did from six years of Japanese), culture, work life, leisure, anime, cosplay, vending machines, zen, Shinto, Buddhism, temples, shrines and walking tours of various places in Tokyo.

What I found very interesting was that according to Hector, the Japanese wish for harmony as a whole over triumph of the individual – which is very different to what occurs in the West. It was also interesting to see repetition given as a way of learning – if you do something hundreds of times, you will end up getting it right. The work structures were also very interesting – the consultation between many levels with the focus on precision. If I wasn’t a gaijin, I think I’d like this!

Hector explains things very clearly in the majority of circumstances but occasionally the English sounded a little ‘off’ to me (for example, a lot of use of the word ‘moreover’). This is a small thing to get used to.

I learnt so much from this book, more than I did over a long period of study and a long trip to Japan. It clarified a lot of things for me. Well done on a great book – this would certainly be of use to those going to Japan or just wanting to know more about it. The pictures are excellent too.

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