Culture Shock! Japan, by P Sean Bramble

  Buy from,, or IndieBound

Publication date – November 1, 2005

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Whether you’re conducting business, traveling for pleasure, or even relocating abroad, one mistake with customs or etiquette can leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. International travelers, now more than ever, are not just individuals from the United States, but ambassadors and impression makers for the country as a whole. Newly updated, redesigned, and resized for maximum shelf appeal for travelers of all ages, Culture Shock! country and city guides make up the most complete reference series for customs and etiquette you can find. These are not just travel guides; these are guides for a way of life.

Thoughts: I’m sure by this point, you all know about my obsession with Japan, and my desire to learn more about the culture. So when I got the chance to read this book, I couldn’t pass it up.

I was immediately thrown off by the less-than-clear image on the cover, and flipping through I saw that all the pictures were in black-and-white. I almost put the book back of the shelf, thinking that it must have been written in the 60s or 70s and that a good deal of the information would have changed and be out-of-date. Don’t let the lousy graphic quality throw you off, though; this book was only published in 2005.

Much like the last book I reviewed about Japan, this is not a travel guide. Unlike the last book, it isn’t really a memoir, either. The author drew upon his own experiences of living in Japan and told some amusing anecdotes, yes, but this wasn’t a book about him.

Unlike travel guides, which do a good job of teaching you how to properly order sushi or how to hail a cab, this book prepares a person for living in Japan, not merely visiting. It covers things that travel guides won’t, such as how to pay your bills, or how to get by at the office. As such, I learned a remarkable amount about daily life in Japan, from a westerner’s perspective, that travel guides and memoirs often don’t speak of. Travel guides assume you won’t be there long enough, and memoirs assume that some tidbits would be too boring for the reader.

Thankfully, I’m the kind of anthro-nut who appreciates all the scraps of information I can gather.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone. It doesn’t have enough information in it to appeal to a very wide audience. But for those who are curious about day-to-day tasks in Japan, or for those who are planning to move there for work, I definitely recommend this one. It may not be a definite resource, but it’s certainly a big help, and will teach you things you probably never even thought to ask about.

One comment on “Culture Shock! Japan, by P Sean Bramble

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