Readers interested in scholarly presentations about Japan can select from an array of references, ranging from internationally renowned tomes to specialist books about the most obscure aspects of Japanese history and culture. Travellers wanting a thorough description of places worth visiting, staying at and eating in have excellent, highly detailed guide books and websites to choose from. There are also any number of publications about niche topics, each important in its own right, such as shopping and eating, pastimes including sumo and pachinko, linguistic quirks of the Japanese language, how to meet members of the opposite, and same, sex, personal experiences of finding (and losing) love in Japan, private diary excerpts detailing life on a day-to-day basis in Japan, and so on.
What doesn’t appear to be catered for is an all-encompassing description of normal aspects and ingredients of life and living in Japan, an unfathoming of the culture, customs and intricacies of a nation that has experienced a tumultuous history since the mid-nineteenth century, turning it into a place like no other on earth.
This publication then, is not a travel guide to Japan, an analysis of the country’s economic and political standing in the world, or a dissertation on its deep cultural and historical roots. Rather, topic by topic the following pages provide an uncomplicated and honest outline of everyday life in Japan, as observed and experienced by someone who spent most of the 1990s there, who got married there, acquired a nuclear and extended family, friends, and set up two small businesses there, and who also travelled around various parts of the country, by bicycle, 50 cc scooter, car and train.
Information is provided about a wide variety of aspects of daily life in Japan that a visitor might reasonably expect to come across during a stay of from a week to a year, or more. This is supplemented by details of an historical and factual nature. Some of this material is a straightforward reporting of the facts and existing situation, other parts a reflection or comment on impressions gained there.
My hope is that by the end of this volume readers will not only be better informed about Japan and life there, but will be encouraged to go there, whether for a holiday or on business, and upon arrival will soon experience a sense of familiarity and feeling of ease that will enable them to move around more freely, comfortably and enjoyably than might otherwise have been the case. Further, that they will come away with positive and happy life-lasting impressions and memories, as I have.