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Kansai Cool: A Journey into the Cultural Heartland of Japan

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  38 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
In Kansai Cool, anthropologist, writer and filmmaker Christal Whelan offers deep insights into the clash of old and new, traditional and modern that plays out on a daily basis in Japan's ancient heartland.

The western region of Japan is known as Kansai—centering around the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara, and the sprawling, modern port cities of Osaka and Kobe. Kansai is
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Tuttle Publishing (first published February 4th 2014)
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Feb 26, 2015 Hotske rated it really liked it
The essay on Japanese gratitude is the best one, giving a window onto an aspect of the Japanese cultural psyche with a beautiful depth that i can't say the other essays quite attain. However, the entire book creates a whole new genre of travel writing for me—one of which i wish i had a specimen for every place i visited. Whelan certainly proffered some unique perspectives into Japanese and Kansai life and culture—glimpses i would not have had on my own even i lived there. Thank you, Ms. Whelan! ...more
Jeffrey Le
Aug 01, 2016 Jeffrey Le rated it really liked it
I received Kansai Cool: A Journey into the Cultural Heartland of Japan as part of Goodread's First Reads giveaway.

A history book, travel guide, and an engaging exploration of Japanese culture, the book explores the best the Kansai area has to offer in a tone of respect and admiration; from serene Buddhist temples to the quirky and expressive manga, anime, and cosplay subculture, Whelan writes about Japan without patronizing Japanese culture as exotic or far-off. The addition of "practical infor
Jul 17, 2014 mali rated it did not like it
This book claims that Japan has 127,000 inhabitants. That is on page 1. The total lack of copy editing makes it hard to read, with an abundance of typos and misspellings just on the first few pages alone. What is worse are the blatant factual mistakes and misleading statements. Osaka was not a former capital of Japan. Some basic fact checking would have saved this book to some extent, given its interesting focus on Kansai. However, in its current state, it will either misinform those not already ...more
Apr 29, 2014 Ohiogozaimas rated it it was amazing
Una brújula cultural para pasear por Japón

Si buscas solamente una guía turística que te lleve de A a B... este no es tu libro.
Si crees que este es un simple compendio de cosas curiosas sobre el lejano y misterioso Japón... te estás perdiendo algo.
Si vas buscando frivolidades que contar a tus amigos en una de esas reuniones frikis sobre el país del Sol Naciente... te quedarás corto.

Christal Whelan nos ofrece un maravilloso relato sobre los aspectos más y menos conocidos de Japón, “acercándonos a
D.C. Palter
Feb 22, 2015 D.C. Palter rated it it was amazing
Christal-san, moukarimakka?

I'd rate Kansai Cool 5 stars even if Christal didn't mention my own book (Colloquial Kansai Japanese/Kinki Japanese) in the intro. This book is a unique, insider look into the many worlds of Kyoto culture. Though I lived in Japan for many years, this book took me to places I've never been, with wonderful writing and great insights.

This book is for someone already intimate with Japan but interested in the nooks and crannies of Kyoto. The book appears to be mostly an an
Doug Walsh
Dec 17, 2015 Doug Walsh rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, non-fiction
I have to admit that the title threw me a bit. I thought this was going to be the kind of cultural book that tried too hard to be hip and relevant to a younger crowd. I was happily wrong. "Kansai Cool" is a very smart, well-researched collection of essays on a number of aspects of Japanese culture. The author does a very good job of framing each of these aspects of Japanese society within the context of the world at large, helping readers to see that the so-called "uniqueness" of Japan actually ...more
Jun 01, 2015 Nancy rated it liked it
I loved the first essay on gratefulness. Fascinating and touching. The rest of the essays were all interesting, although I found that many ended rather abruptly which was disconcerting. Despite it being published in 2014, many of the essays dated from the early part of the century, and as they were about modern phenomena like Anime and Cosplay, seemed a bit dated. The copy editing was a bit woeful.
Marija S.
Dec 22, 2014 Marija S. rated it liked it
A collection of Kansai-related articles by the author, previously published in a magazine. A fast-read with interesting teed-bits, however nothing too spectacular or too distanced from writing intended for fleeting and shallow attention of magazine readers.

I would recommend it to anyone interested in Japan, but with no great expectations in terms of information. The articles serve more as a prompt for further investigation.
Jason Keenan
Oct 18, 2014 Jason Keenan rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
So many books filled quick glimpses of Japan focus almost entirely on Tokyo or the Kanto region. It was refreshing to have that glimpse through the lens of Kansai - the area around Kyoto and Osaka. And it was nice to see the cultural profiles stretch from the past all the way to the oft neglected present. Worth a gander.
May 28, 2016 Ta0paipai rated it really liked it
A nice collection of essays on unconventional topics like incense, bamboo, Biwa pearls and the phrase "okagesama de." I've lived in Japan for almost a decade now, have traveled all over and have read a great deal on the country, its history and culture yet I still found the book's topics refreshing. The author's inquisitive and thoughtful tone made reading it a pleasure.
Jan 30, 2016 Beth rated it liked it
This is a collection of essays based on Japan and its culture written by an anthropologist who seems to have a deep understanding and love for Japan. The mixture is quite varied and will give snippets on things you would never expect.
3.5 stars.
Jun 06, 2015 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, nonfiction
Mildly interesting, though the writing was so disjointed that it made the reading experience difficult. Could've used a (better) copy/line editor. Good primer if you're interested in Japanese culture, but there are better books out there that cover this same scope.
Jul 07, 2015 Jen added it
Turned out to be a collection of newspaper columns geared towards locals, so it was a bit more deep-end than I was looking for.
Tim rated it liked it
Feb 11, 2015
Kenny rated it it was amazing
Jun 23, 2015
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Oct 24, 2014
The Lotus Eater
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Mar 17, 2016
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Apr 14, 2015
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Gary Wetzel rated it liked it
Jul 19, 2016
Kristina rated it really liked it
Feb 08, 2016
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Caroline Anastasia Mccaskill
Caroline Anastasia Mccaskill rated it it was amazing
May 29, 2014
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Nov 06, 2016
Kieron rated it it was amazing
May 09, 2016
Anna Demchenko
Anna Demchenko rated it liked it
Jun 07, 2016
Geoff Hunton
Mar 30, 2015 Geoff Hunton rated it really liked it
Fantastic look at the Kansai region!
Caitlin F
Caitlin F rated it liked it
Jul 19, 2014
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Christal Whelan, author-anthropologist, grew up in Munich, Honolulu, and Washington D.C., and has lived and worked in Japan intermittently since 1990. Six years after her arrival, she published The Beginning of Heaven and Earth: The Sacred Book of Japan's Hidden Christians, a book based on her experiences among the few remaining clandestine communities with whom she lived on the remote Goto Island ...more
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