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The Asian ApertureSon of Raw Fish: Book Review
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, November 20, 2013    Share

If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a foreigner in Japan then you should pick up two great books by Don Maloney. Maloney covers it all with wit and insight.

Maloney wrote about the ups and downs of daily life in Japan in his column for The Japan Times called Never the Twain…? His columns are a quick read that ring true to every non- Japanese that has spent time in Japan. I like the way his last sentence brings everything home with such honest emotion.

I met someone who spent time in the 70’s in Japan and I had often wondered what that experience would have been like. He loaned me a copy of the long out of print, Son of Raw Fish by Don Maloney. This book is actually the sequel to the first one, Japan: It’s Not All Raw Fish.

So I went home that night and started reading and so began my journey to 70’s Japan.

Don Maloney and his wife and family moved to Japan from Cleveland, Ohio to work for a company in Tokyo. Maloney is the perfect voice for the Japanese experience because he didn’t speak Japanese so he is accessible to the average person who didn’t spend years in college studying Japanese. He writes about the common problems that every gaijin goes through and it is his humor that helps him, as well as, the reader cope.

The greatest aspect of Maloney’s writing is that he isn’t afraid of discussing culture shock and he isn’t part of the “Chrysanthemum Club,” who were a group of writers that wrote about Japan through rose lenses. The latter writers were just trying to promote Japan and a lot of their work lacks honesty and doesn’t prepare you for problems.

I was glad that he also wrote about the Sayonara Parties. That is the time when you realize you are going to leave Japan and you sell off all those possessions that you don’t want to take back home with you. You have one big final party in Japan and then get on a plane and go. You might come back for a visit but you are less likely to return to live.

Also, you imagine you will adjust back to American life with no problems. This is wrong as Maloney writes about “reverse culture shock,” when you get back home and you just can’t get back into your groove. Sometimes reverse culture shock takes longer to get over then culture shock itself. Even though you complained about some part of living in Japan when you were there, you find yourself missing something about it back home. Sometimes what you complained about seems so trivial when you look back at it.

Sadly, both of Don Maloney’s books have been out of print for years. They cover Japan in the mid 70’s but there is still truth in Maloney’s words that still hold up today. Even if you have never set foot in Japan, you can still appreciate Maloney’s wonderful sense of humor. You can easily pick up both at online used book sites. Happy reading!

Highly Recommended

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2013 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2013 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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