From samurai to sumo and calligraphy to cos-play, Japan is a fascinating mashup of hyper-modernity and traditional culture.
Visitors to Japan can still sleep on futons, meditate with monks, drink matcha tea, and wonder at ancient theater, like noh and kabuki — while also riding on bullet trains and time-traveling to the future with the latest electronics. More than two-thirds of the country is mountains, and there are also ancient cedar groves, tropical beaches, and fields of wildflowers. And hot springs, lots of bubbly, irresistible, relaxing hot springs.
Rooted in tradition and family, the culture of Japan provides rich fodder for stories that grab hold of you and won’t let go. The books we’ve chosen introduce you to very different characters and celebrate the language, the customs, and the challenges of contemporary Japan.
In this episode, we take a deep dive into WWII-era Japan with a family saga and a nonfiction manga comic — both populated by unforgettable characters, sweeping historical events, and big feelings. We’ve also got a culture guide to all things geeky, a workplace-romantic comedy about making a dictionary, and a slim novel with a mighty impact.
We also chat with award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden about her extended stay in Japan and manga, the Japanese comics form that made her fall in love with comics.
For a complete roundup of all the books we recommend, plus a full transcript and the other cool stuff we talked about, including more info about our guest Tillie Walden, visit the Episode 03 show notes.
Subscribe to our podcast so you never miss a must-read book or thrilling destination!
If we're not available on your favorite podcast-listening platform, send us an email!
Top image courtesy of Sora Sagano.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is ©2023 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.