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kitsuno
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 5:10 am    Post subject: "Western" Fiction set in Japan Reply with quote
What are some good books by non-Japanese authors that take place in Japan? I tried to read one of those Sanno Ichiro books, but I absolutely couldn't get into it. I liked "Across the Nightingale Floor", but that wasn't really Japan. The John Rain series by Barry Eisler is great, it probably has the most accurate portrayal of modern Japan I've read, and all the books are a damn good read. "Memoirs of a Geisha" was ok, but not great, and after the movie, I'd rather forget it ever existed in the first place.

Any other books set in Japan that are worth a look? How about "The Ninja" by Eric Van Lustbader? I've never read it, and I am not even sure if it is set in Japan, and the title makes me hallucinate images of the "ninja" movies of the '80s with Ninja squeezing pool balls into dust, and jumping 10 feet into the air, and killing with a one-fingered blow to the left ankle...
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Mencius
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I can tell you one set of books to avoid - anything by Sujata Massey. She has a very strange mind-set. The heroine's boyfriend is this Scot that goes around telling all the people he meets that he's not English. Oh and the author keeps talking about how he's this really big guy (in every department). The English that do appear are terrible stereotypes and completely repulsive.

Seems like someone has an inferiority complex about her nationality.....
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Tatsunoshi
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 4:21 pm    Post subject: Re: "Western" Fiction set in Japan Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
What are some good books by non-Japanese authors that take place in Japan? I tried to read one of those Sanno Ichiro books, but I absolutely couldn't get into it. I liked "Across the Nightingale Floor", but that wasn't really Japan. The John Rain series by Barry Eisler is great, it probably has the most accurate portrayal of modern Japan I've read, and all the books are a damn good read. "Memoirs of a Geisha" was ok, but not great, and after the movie, I'd rather forget it ever existed in the first place.

Any other books set in Japan that are worth a look? How about "The Ninja" by Eric Van Lustbader? I've never read it, and I am not even sure if it is set in Japan, and the title makes me hallucinate images of the "ninja" movies of the '80s with Ninja squeezing pool balls into dust, and jumping 10 feet into the air, and killing with a one-fingered blow to the left ankle...


'Ninja' is mainly set in the USA and has every super-ninja stereotype that ever made you cringe along with a bunch of new ones (a couple of flashbacks where Mr. American Ninja flashes back to his training in Japan and his brushes with the evil ninja). He also wrote at least a couple of follow ups (Miko & White Ninja) with more of the same.
There's always the Daimyo trilogy which is pretty much Shogun in reverse (Japanese warlord goes to Spain, England, the Middle East) and starts out in Japan. There's a two book series I'll have to check on the title for that combines the Yoshitsune legends, the Mongol Invasions, and sends our heroes into China just for good measure-it follows the Shogun rules of changing names (like Benkei to Jebbu). Couple of others I'll look into tomorrow.


Last edited by Tatsunoshi on Sun Jun 25, 2006 4:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Ashigaru
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 4:27 pm    Post subject: Re: "Western" Fiction set in Japan Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
How about "The Ninja" by Eric Van Lustbader?


I'm pretty sure this book would give you an aneurysm. It's like "American Ninja: The Novel", basically. Lots of sex scenes, though.

The following list might be helpful:

JAPAN IN HISTORICAL FICTION IN ENGLISH

This site is rather American/European historical novel-heavy, but it gives a decent idea of what's coming out:

Forthcoming Historical Novels
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 5:12 pm    Post subject: Re: "Western" Fiction set in Japan Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:

There's always the Daimyo trilogy which is pretty much Shogun in reverse (Japanese warlord goes to Spain, England, the Middle East) and starts out in Japan.


God, I read one of those--"Daimyo" I think was the name, must have been the first one. I didn't realize it was a trilogy. It was so bad...yet I finished it, for the following reasons: A. I was starved for something to read, and B. it had an appeal vaguely similar to how women must view Harlequin romances--trashy, awful, you're embarassed to get caught reading it, but dammit, you just have to.

Nowhere near as good as Shogun, but then again you can't expect it to be.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 6:00 am    Post subject: Re: "Western" Fiction set in Japan Reply with quote
Ashigaru wrote:


The following list might be helpful:

JAPAN IN HISTORICAL FICTION IN ENGLISH



Thanks I will have to get around to reading that one day.

I am a big fan of William Dale Jennings "The Ronin". It is a short read, but there are alot of things that poop out at you.
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nagaeyari
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
It is a short read, but there are alot of things that poop out at you.


Uhhh...

I think Ill stay away from that one.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
nagaeyari wrote:
Quote:
It is a short read, but there are alot of things that poop out at you.


Uhhh...

I think Ill stay away from that one.


If you change your mind, I'm sure there's a place in Gion that can accomodate you, with enough money and a fake id. Confused
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Guess I am going to be careful how I word my posts, I guess Confused
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
nagaeyari wrote:
Quote:
It is a short read, but there are alot of things that poop out at you.


Uhhh...

I think Ill stay away from that one.


If you change your mind, I'm sure there's a place in Gion that can accomodate you, with enough money and a fake id. Confused


Gion steamer?
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
Gion steamer?


Not my cup of tea, so to speak, but you know it's out there.

Japan, sexually, is such an oxymoron to me. You can't buy a pornographic magazine (or comic book, for that matter) without the "naughty bits" being blacked out or pixellated, yet you can walk in, off the street, and pay for sexual acts (including fellatio and anal intercourse) with no repercussions because the prostitution laws define sex as vaginal intercourse only, so the rest of it isn't "prostitution".

What's the point of preventing someone from looking at a magazine when they can just go buy the real thing? I just don't get it.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:


What's the point of preventing someone from looking at a magazine when they can just go buy the real thing? I just don't get it.

Me neither, but I think it is funnier than hell.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
What's the point of preventing someone from looking at a magazine when they can just go buy the real thing? I just don't get it.

Kickbacks from the real thing are better.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Philippe wrote:
ltdomer98 wrote:
What's the point of preventing someone from looking at a magazine when they can just go buy the real thing? I just don't get it.

Kickbacks from the real thing are better.


Too bad pimpin ain't easy.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
Too bad pimpin ain't easy.


It's hard out here for a pimp.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:


It's hard out here for a pimp.


Did someone say my name?
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 12:06 pm    Post subject: Re: "Western" Fiction set in Japan Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
What are some good books by non-Japanese authors that take place in Japan?
There is a series of three mystery novels that I enjoyed by Dale Furitani (an American of Japanese ancestry). The novels are set in the early 17th century. All three novels feature Matsuyama Kaze (obviously not his real name), a ronin who had survived Tokugawa Ieyasu's rise to power (his clan had been on the Toyotomi side). He searches the land trying to find his late former lord's missing young daughter. While wandering and searching, he solves a trio of mysteries.

The books are: DEATH AT THE CROSSROADS, JADE PALACE VENDETTA, and KILL THE SHOGUN. The author states that, in writing this series, he was partly inspired by some of Kurosawa's samurai movies. I found this series quite enjoyable. I believe that the books are now out-of-print, but can be bought at Amazon.con's used book site.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 12:09 pm    Post subject: Re: "Western" Fiction set in Japan Reply with quote
Wave Tossed wrote:
He searches the land trying to find his late former lord's missing young daughter. While wandering and searching, he solves a trio of mysteries.


Argh, it's so lame when authors do detective mysteries. It's all the same kind of thing, just set in an "interesting" culture for them to wow their readers with.

It's so boring I refuse to read them any more.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The Sword of Hachiman by Lynn Guest is (despite the publisher) a straight-forward, realistic novel on the life of Yoshitsune.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2006 7:26 am    Post subject: Re: "Western" Fiction set in Japan Reply with quote
Mencius wrote:
Wave Tossed wrote:
He searches the land trying to find his late former lord's missing young daughter. While wandering and searching, he solves a trio of mysteries.


Argh, it's so lame when authors do detective mysteries. It's all the same kind of thing, just set in an "interesting" culture for them to wow their readers with.

It's so boring I refuse to read them any more.
These books really aren't "detective mysteries." The main character isn't a detective. In fact, he sometimes gets charged with a crime and has to escape the detectives. I like these books because they are more centered on characters rather than being typical "procedural" detective mysteries.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
"December Sixth" by Martin Cruz Smith is a novel I really enjoyed. It's about an American in Tokyo in 1941 who has mixed loyalties, but mainly wants to look out for his own interests as war looms closer. It's a sort of Japanese version of "Casablanca".

"An Artist of the Floating World" by Kazuo Ishiguro is also good read. I guess he's sort of Japanese, but is a citizen of the UK. It's about a prominent artist with a very refined lifestyle who has trouble coming to terms with post-war changes.

Donald Richie, the film critic, has written a couple of novels."Memoirs of Warrior Kumagai" is set in the 12th century so Kumagai won't be suing him, and "Where are the Victors" is a tale of decadence set in bubble-era Tokyo.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Personally I enjoyed reading the Sano Ichiro series by Laura Joh Rowland. As a mystery thriller, I found it pretty good in terms of character development and the twists and turns in its storyline so much so i was practically glued to it. But i'm wonderin, how closely does it resemble history? Been doing some extra reading lately and so far what i've found in her books is accurate so far. If there are any disrepancies pls give me your feedback on this. Would really appreciate it.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
hayaJbusa wrote:
If there are any disrepancies pls give me your feedback on this. Would really appreciate it.


I'm a big fan of the series too, but the history is somewhat lax. The worst crimes have to do with describing samurai arms and armor (more suited for western knights than samurai). Many location descriptions and customs are years dislocated from their proper times. The depictions of Shogun Tsunayoshi and Chamberlain Yanagisawa are more of an exaggerated popular view than historical. And finally, lately more and more grand scale events are taking place that never happened (like the successful Matsudaira revolt and Sano replacing Yanagisawa), which are effectively moving the series out of history and into alternate universes.
All in all, entertaining quick reads, but about as historical as Shogun.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
No one gets as much tail as Sano Ichiro...

I think that's the biggest fault of the series Just Kidding
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
nagaeyari wrote:
No one gets as much tail as Sano Ichiro...


That all ended when he married Reiko!
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