A Tokyo romance : a memoir / Ian Buruma.

[This book is] a classic memoir of self-invention in a strange land: Ian Buruma's unflinching account of his amazing journey into the heart of Tokyo's underground culture as a young man in the 1970's.

Main Author: Buruma, Ian,
Published: New York : Penguin Press, 2018.
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Review by Booklist Review

Buruma has been a perpetual outsider. When he moved to Tokyo as a young man to study film in the 1970s, that outsider status allowed him to witness the city's experimental arts scene, which he attentively describes in this illuminating memoir. A far cry from his sheltered upbringing among the tennis courts and lawn sprinklers of his native Holland, this side of Tokyo thrilled Buruma with such oddities as dance troupes moving like reanimated corpses and movie theaters bursting with orgasmic noises, both on-screen and off. Postwar Tokyo was brimming with fantastical buildings and screaming advertisements, all in a seeming bid to shake off the past. As Buruma, now the editor of the New York Review of Books, chronicles coming to terms with his own place as a gaijin, or foreigner, living in Tokyo but never quite belonging there, he also portrays the artists of a new era grappling with Japan's place in the world. With the insight and curiosity of someone on the outside looking in, Buruma describes a transformational moment in the making of modern Japanese culture.--Thoreson, Bridget Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

New York Review of Books editor Buruma reflects on his immersion in the artistic underworlds of late 1970s Tokyo in this lucid, engrossing memoir. A bored university student from the Netherlands, Buruma was intrigued by the exotic Japan of film and stage and moved to a country caught between dizzying economic growth and the student uprisings that followed. On his way to artistic maturity, Buruma befriended gay expat aesthetes, fashion photographers, Buto dancers, and underground theater troupes, his fluent Japanese providing access to milieus few Westerners ever encountered. Throughout the narrative, readers learn nearly as much about Buruma's occasional male lovers as they do about a Japanese girlfriend he lived with (and later married). Bisexual and half "Anglo-German-Jewish," Buruma had always felt remote from his Dutch countrymen, and he felt even more displaced among the Japanese. Of course, it was exactly his difference that made him intriguing to the fiercely tribal artistic enclaves he explored; as Buruma freely admits, having John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy) for an uncle proved quite helpful in encounters with luminaries such as film directors Juro Kara, Akira Kurosawa, and Shuji Terayama. Yet even as this far-from-typical gaijin enjoyed the benefits of his ambiguous status, he came to understand that he would never be fully accepted. Buruma makes the archetypal quest for home in a foreign land both uniquely personal and deeply illuminating. Andrew Wylie, the Wylie Agency. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

By his own admission, Buruma longed from childhood to escape the dull security of his middle-class upbringing in Holland. Drawn to Japan by a chance encounter with the plays of poet and filmmaker Shuji Terayama, Buruma decamped to Tokyo in 1975, where he studied cinema and photography and formed connections with people such as author and film critic Donald Richie and avant-garde actor/director/playwright Kara Juro. He also experienced both the pleasures and despairs that come with being a cultural outsider. This book draws from the well of those encounters, mingling the author's attempts at self-transformation with observations on the art, culture, and society of a Japan that was in the midst of radical change. VERDICT Buruma's meditations on his place as a foreigner in Japanese society achieve some depth, but the descriptions of the various personalities and the lurid slices of 1970s Tokyo's underground scene are this memoir's strongest feature. Readers interested in 20th-century Japanese cinema and avant-garde theater will find a particular appeal in Buruma's anecdotes.-Kathleen -McCallister, Tulane Univ., New Orleans © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.