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Geek in

A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony

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For every fan of manga, anime, J-pop, or Zen, A Geek in Japan is a hip, smart and concise guide to the land that is their source.

Comprehensive and well informed, it covers a wide array of topics in short articles accompanied by sidebars and numerous photographs, providing a lively digest of the society and culture of Japan. Designed to appeal to the generations of Westerners who grew up on Pokemon, manga and video games, A Geek in Japan reinvents the culture guide for readers in the Internet age.

Spotlighting the originality and creativity of the Japanese, debunking myths about them, and answering nagging questions like why they're so fond of robots, author Hector Garcia has created the perfect book for the growing ranks of Japanophiles in this inspired, insightful and highly informative guide.

160 pages, Paperback

First published June 10, 2011

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About the author

Hector Garcia Puigcerver

20 books1,018 followers
I'm the author of several Japanese culture books: The Magic of Japan, Ikigai the Japanese Secret for a Long and Happy Life, The Book of Ichigo Ichie, Shinrinyoku, The Ikigai Journey and A Geek in Japan.

I LOVE reading and writing.

Autor de los libros sobre cultura japonesa: La Magia de Japón, Ikigai, Ichigo Ichie, Shinrinyoku, Un Geek en Japón.


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5 stars
597 (25%)
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997 (43%)
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568 (24%)
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130 (5%)
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24 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 271 reviews
Profile Image for Sara.
1,057 reviews353 followers
July 20, 2017
This would probably have been more helpful if I was actually going to Japan. I'm not anytime soon so......yeah. Some of the passages were very repetitive. I got a weird sense of deja vu about 20 times throughout reading this because some sentences were repeated more than once.

It provided a very broad, very brief overview to the complete history and culture of Japan. Pretty much everything you can think of is covered, even including brief tourist guides and recommended walks. However, I felt at times it was stereotyping a whole race of people - 'All Japanese are polite and avoid confrontation'. Well, I beg to differ. That's like saying all British people are polite and drink tea. I'm not either of these things. The last chapter with common phrases would be helpful for Japanese tourists.

I guess I was expecting something other than a glorified travel guide.
Profile Image for Nadia King.
Author 12 books77 followers
February 25, 2017
Comprehensive, brilliant book about Japan - her culture, her history, her geography, and her people. Love this book which I can't seem to shift from my coffee table to the bookshelves because I love it so much.
Profile Image for Yue.
2,114 reviews30 followers
November 6, 2015
Like a geek, I spent my whole weekend reading this wonderful book. And I feel like I have been in Japan over the weekend, walking around Tokyo, the stores, the gardens.

People who are interested in Japan must read this book. I learnt so much. It has subjects about everything: Japanese customs, a bit of history, places that we must visit; manga and anime and so many others. There are things that I've already known because of manga, doramas; like stuffs about their school system, food, etc. Other things I am learning just by watching this TV show (Cartoon KAT-TUN, which is like, the funniest and most entertaining show evah). For example, the way they greet people, or why girls cover their mouth when they laugh. Or the importance they give to their food. Or how polite and respectful they are, and their nice sense of humor.

Some things I may have taken for granted, or when I was reading, I was like "Oh I noticed that too but never asked myself why" are that Japanese people do not use the word iie, "no". Or that they use the word chotto a lot.

A huge positive aspect in this book is that the author shares his own anecdotes with the reader. Stories that involve the environment in his work, with his co-workers; or when he was trying to rent a room in a hotel, or the places he likes the best. Stories that make the reader understand more and better. And most of the photos are from the author himself, not from Internet.

Luckily this journey does not end here. The author (bless his soul!) has his own blog where he describes and tells us more about this amazing country, http://www.kirainet.com/. Look like GR is not going to be the only website I visit the most.
Profile Image for Daniel Doughty.
Author 1 book5 followers
September 26, 2022
A series of short snippets and mundane anecdotes about Japan. Informative if you know little about Japan, yet often repetitive. A non essential component to visiting the country.
Profile Image for Annice22.
625 reviews
July 9, 2014
This was very boring.

However, I did enjoy seeing all the pictures that were throughout the book but I felt like I would have been better off just searching online and reading general information instead of reading this. Because most of this just feels like internet research instead of feeling like a first hand account from someone who was living there.
Profile Image for Marrynka.
10 reviews
October 1, 2018
Perfect book to read before traveling to Japan.
After reading it I feel fully prepared for my trip. Book includes a lot of general information written in engaging and concise way which makes it a page-turner. Book includes chapters about history, traditional arts, Japanese culture and mindset, food, music, anime and manga and way more - basically everything there is to know about this fascinating country :) Last two chapters are aimed specifically at tourist planning their trip, they are packed with places to visit as well as practical advice.
Profile Image for Gabe Baskin.
22 reviews2 followers
October 28, 2021
A good book, particularly if you, say, just so happen to be moving to Japan. Unlike other Japanese culture books, this book provides the "why" behind the customs in addition to sharing what the norms are.
Profile Image for Darjeeling.
313 reviews33 followers
May 14, 2019
p26. "During the Edo Period, when Japan received almost no influence from foreign cultures, a number of unique arts or disciplines were developed. For instance, kabuki theater appeared as a consequence of the need to entertain an increasingly flourishing society with more and more free time."

So much for diversity being a strength...

p144 is the start of a chapter on Odaiba, one of Japans many small islands. In the top left corner there is a picture of the Statue Of Liberty. This confused me at first. Turns out Japan just decided they wanted one too. They also have a copy of the Eiffel Tower. Talk about cultural appropriation :P

I found the chapter on Japanese business the most interesting, probably because it was the topic I knew the least about. I also learned allot about Confucianism for similar reasons, it's one of the few eastern philosophies I haven't studied yet, and I will add a few books on the topic to my reading list. It sounds fascinating, sort of like Plato's Republic (which I have managed to read allot about without having actually read. That's on my list too) except that it actually works. It's a heavily collectivist ideology, and not something I would want to live in. In fact I would probably feel the need to rebel against it, just as I feel the need to rebel against collectivism in my own culture, and we can see some of the disadvantages to collectivism, as well as the advantages, in Japanese culture, which I have always had a great deal of respect for and still do. I'm envious of Japans low crime rate, and almost non existent terrorism (Japan has a very strict immigration policy), but I also don't want to be forced into a system of mass conformity, where argument from authority is not considered a logical fallacy. Sometimes you can't have your cake and eat it. I do think there are some aspects of Japanese culture we can and should culturally appropriate, just as they have culturally appropriated many of the best aspects of western culture and integrated them.

Peace ✌🏻
Profile Image for Tanya Tosheva.
54 reviews44 followers
February 3, 2017
This will not be so much a review of the book as my attempt to remember a gazillion facts and new Japanese words, which overwhelmed me despite already knowing some from anime and manga and being used to the sound of the language.

Almost everything below is a quote.

History of Japan

Language of Japan


Interesting concepts & words

There's so much more but I'll leave it at that. For future (someday!) visits to Tokyo I just have to remember to visit the Akihabara district.
Profile Image for Sam Still Reading.
1,378 reviews62 followers
August 9, 2011
A Geek in Japan is one of those books I saw on the shelf at my local bookstore and just had to have. I love Japan and I love to learn more about it. A Geek in Japan is deceiving though, in that it contains much more information than you think at first glance. Hector Garcia has obviously put a lot of time and effort into researching this book, which delves into many aspects of Japan. It includes history, social structures (I learned more from this book than I did from six years of Japanese), culture, work life, leisure, anime, cosplay, vending machines, zen, Shinto, Buddhism, temples, shrines and walking tours of various places in Tokyo.

What I found very interesting was that according to Hector, the Japanese wish for harmony as a whole over triumph of the individual – which is very different to what occurs in the West. It was also interesting to see repetition given as a way of learning – if you do something hundreds of times, you will end up getting it right. The work structures were also very interesting – the consultation between many levels with the focus on precision. If I wasn’t a gaijin, I think I’d like this!

Hector explains things very clearly in the majority of circumstances but occasionally the English sounded a little ‘off’ to me (for example, a lot of use of the word ‘moreover’). This is a small thing to get used to.

I learnt so much from this book, more than I did over a long period of study and a long trip to Japan. It clarified a lot of things for me. Well done on a great book – this would certainly be of use to those going to Japan or just wanting to know more about it. The pictures are excellent too.
Profile Image for Adrián.
169 reviews
November 1, 2017
¿Hay vida más allá de Akihabara? Según este libro, parece que no. Es una curiosa recopilación de curiosidades, pero el contenido total es más bien escaso. A mi me parece más bien una colección de clichés al estilo de: a los japoneses les gusta..., los japoneses hacen..., etc.; que se presentan como verdades absolutas.

Toca muchos temas sin profundizar en ninguno (aunque entiendo que no es el propósito del libro), abusando claramente de nomenclatura japonesa que ni interesa ni es relevante para la profundidad con la que se tratan los temas. Este exceso de terminología lleva además a que el autor tenga que estar constantemente recordando conceptos previos y haciendo referencias cruzadas a otras secciones/capítulos. Esto se repite en todo el libro y resulta muy cansino. Y hablando de repeticiones, ¿cuántas veces crees que puedes leer la misma frase sin que quieras tirar el libro por la ventana? Prepárate, porque sobre el uso que los japonenses hacen de las katas aparece al menos medio centenar de veces.
Profile Image for Jason Keenan.
188 reviews9 followers
May 24, 2017
A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony is such a great introduction to Japanese culture — and the modern cool Japan we are coming to know as well as the historic Japan.

The book is a fun read and may even surprise readers familiar with Japan with a few new explanations of culture and history.

Don't let the title fool you -- A Geek in Japan really offers up a whole lot of quick highlights of what makes up life in Japan. It touches on broad topics like traditional culture, the Japanese character, and daily life. All in all it's a wonderful introduction to what makes Japan unique.

The book also has a wonderful informal tone — which can help anyone planning a trip to map out their plans in a fun way.
Profile Image for Phakin.
445 reviews145 followers
August 10, 2016
ลองอ่านเล่นๆ ก็สนุกดีฮะ ให้ชาวต่างชาติเขียนถึงวัฒนธรรมอื่นก็มักมีแนวโน้มออกมาแบบนี้ คือมองเห็นอะไรที่ unique เต็มไปหมด แต่อะไรๆ ก็เป็นเรื่อง "วัฒนธรรม" ไปซะหมดด้วย ข้อมูลหลายอย่างดีเลย โดยเฉพาะส่วนที่เป็น timeline ของวัฒนธรรมการ์ตูนญี่ปุ่น เห็นอะไรหลายอย่างทีเดียว
Profile Image for Niki Ganong.
Author 1 book11 followers
January 10, 2013
A Geek in Japan is a great, cursory cultural guide to the country. It's not going to be of any use to a traveler, but it is interesting.
Profile Image for Mati.
987 reviews1 follower
May 25, 2017
Comprehensive text of what to do or not to do in Japanese society for confused foreigner.
Profile Image for David.
1,630 reviews102 followers
February 24, 2019
A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony by Hector Garcia Puigcerver was a delightful surprise for me. I initially saw the title and wrongfully assumed it was something that would appeal to gamers and hardcore Manga and Anime fans. It turned out to be a well-written description and analysis of what makes Japan what it is from the history, people, culture, food, as well as the Manga and Anime in the title. Having lived in Japan for three years in 1969-1972 while in the US Air Force, I spent a lot of my free time exploring and enjoying the being in what for me initially was a totally foreign environment. I learned much of what the author has included in this book but also learned a lot as well. He has spent more than twice as much time there and seems very perceptive about what he experienced as he was more immersed in the Japanese culture. I would assume he is fluent in Japanese or at least very conversant which would enable him to gain the insights he has into Japan as a country and people. He also has written a really good travel guide (although I don't think that was necessarily his intent) such that a first time visitor to Japan could organize a fun, inexpensive, and educational trip to Japan without resorting to pricey tours. He offers many useful tips like buying the JR RailPass before you go there to save money on transportation while you are there. I can highly recommend this book to anyone who has thought about visiting Japan, just wants to know more about Japan out of curiosity, or even those like me who have been there and want to refresh or reminisce about what they saw while visiting or living there. He provides some simple guides for visiting that will help optimize your time and focus on the more interesting (subjective, I know) things to see and do. Now back to my heavy subject readings!
Profile Image for Jaymes Dunlap.
69 reviews10 followers
September 13, 2019
I was impressed by this brief introduction. Although I have fragmentary knowledge and some introductory understanding of Japanese culture, this book consolidates core facts that are both comprehensive and entertaining. It also included much I did not know, such as the cultural use of the word "chotto." Once making it to the section on Japanese economy and work, I expected this to be the most boring part of the book; but it was absolutely fascinating learning about their economy and work culture.

Oddly, some of the media culture and travel destinations felt a little dry. For instance, without looking up the music artists or going/looking at travel destinations, the blurb paragraphs were helpful in understanding but is something that needs personal experience to truly enjoy.

Although I am sure there are plenty of other introductions that can offer more depth depending on your focus or foci, this book is exceptional designed for the brevity in spite of the Garcia acknowledging the need to omit some details/chapters. The text is also enjoyably well-written.

Would recommend if you needed an overview, in spite of being dated 2010 as the untranslated copy (2011 for English translation).
Profile Image for Bhagya Shree.
70 reviews16 followers
June 19, 2018
This is a very detailed book that explores the state, heart and culture of Japan. The author has done a great job in explaining essential Japanese terms, ideals and essence of Japan. As evident from the title, the author talks about everything about Japan that we hear or see in popular culture- Geisha, tea ceremony, Zen, Work culture, Manga, anime etc. The majority of the chapters can be read as a non-fiction book and final chapters can be used as a tourist guide book when you are travelling to Japan.
Reading this book can help one understand character nuisances in books of popular Japanese authors like Murakami, Keigo Higashino , Hideo Yokoyama etc. Even if you are not going to visit Japan or read Japanese fictions, this book can be consumed just to see how author explains, otherwise monotonically seeming topics about the land of rising sun in an interesting way.
Profile Image for Stefania.
99 reviews4 followers
March 16, 2023
Good book if you are interested in Japan or planning a visits. It talks about everything, from temples to music, from old customs to video games.

I have to add a couple of notes:
1) the English translation of the book I had was full of mistakes and missing words. Pretty annoying from a printed book.
2) the author is a guy, writing from his point of view. Shojo mangas where dismissed as “almost always romantic stories” while providing Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura as an example, when those had superheroes saving the planet, like Shonen mangas have.
When talking about Lolita fashion, big brands like Angelic Pretty or Baby The Stars Shine Bright weren’t even mentioned, and again, he dismissed everything by writing “they go to Sanrio stores”.
It would have been nice for the author to have some female friends, just to bring a different side of the story.
Profile Image for Gene.
5 reviews
June 7, 2017
Great insights on Japan's unique culture

This book was a godsend when we travelled Japan. Mainly for the distilled cultural insights which would have required several years living there as an expat. I often found myself reading a section (on a train) then chuckling to myself as I realized I had noted that exact same peculiarity but had no idea of the meaning or had simply passed it off as a trivial thought.
Profile Image for MoYaL.
34 reviews
November 21, 2020
A must read book for the people who are fascinated by Japanese culture. You will come to know all about the history of Japan, their culture, their festivals, their religions and philosophies. The language formation of Japan and the various symbols that are use used there. Right from the Martial arts to the Tea Ceremonies. You can get the overview of almost everything related to the Japanese.

When I read the book, I realized that I had many misconceptions regarding this wonderful country. The code of conduct and the work ethics is very different than other countries. The respect and the gratitude that they have for each other is quite fascinating. The Science and Technology, The Robot culture, the animes, the mangas are discussed with their origin ideas and their evolution. This book also explores the movies and cinemas of Japan along with the Television, the Music, and the media.

Considering the language of the book, it is very simple and layman. The book will give you an insight to all the possible ideas regarding the country and it will be like a virtual trip to the readers.
Profile Image for James.
3,293 reviews18 followers
May 18, 2017
A decent read for an overall view of modern Japanese culture with an emphasis on Tokyo. Based on the title, I was hoping for more about otaku culture. It would be a nice first read on modern Japan and would make a good supplement to a guide book if you're going to the Tokyo region.
Profile Image for GONZA.
6,305 reviews104 followers
April 10, 2018
I loved the blog as much as I loved the book, a little compendium to try to begin to understand Japan and its people. Many beautiful pictures included!

Il blog mi piaceva tanto quanto mi é piaciuto il libro, un compendio per iniziare a provare a capire il Giappone ed i giapponesi. Con tante bellissime foto!
429 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2021
A geek in Japan is packed with information, personal anecdotes and pictures, which makes it a great starting point for learning about lots of Nihon-related topics, with the final two chapters handing out travel advice - which may be a bit dated, but are interesting to read
Profile Image for Virginia.
1,080 reviews12 followers
September 19, 2022
Magnífico retrato de la sociedad nipona vista desde los ojos de un extranjero residente en Japón. Este libro, a parte de entretener, es una mini guía esencial para saber como comportarse, que visitar y donde comprar cuando se viaja al país del sol naciente.
Profile Image for K.Alrashidi.
29 reviews
July 25, 2018
A great book for an overall view of the history of Japan. It also includes tips for travels.
Highly recommed🙏🏼
5 reviews
February 28, 2023
Great book before my Japan trip. Learned the basics about the culture and history. Even got some pointers for my itinerary. Would def recommend this to anyone planning on going to Japan.

16 days til I land in Tokyo!
Profile Image for Stéphanie Legros.
50 reviews1 follower
March 29, 2022
Livre au contenu très intéressant, plein de faits fascinants et de trouvailles sur le Japon! Le seul hic, c'est la traduction française qui est bourrée d'erreurs!
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