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Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  84 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Motions and Moments is the third book by Michael Pronko on the fluid feel and vibrant confusions of Tokyo life. These 42 new essays burrow into the unique intensities that suffuse the city and ponder what they mean to its millions of inhabitants.

Based on Pronko's 18 years living, teaching and writing in Tokyo, these essays on how Tokyoites work, dress, commute, eat and sle
Paperback, 290 pages
Published December 22nd 2015 by Raked Gravel Press
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Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe third time is indeed the charm. In either case my third armchair visit to Tokyo courtesy of Michael Pronko has so far been the most enjoyable one. Knowing what to expect helped, plus I was in the mood for a lazy adventure. Pronko doesn't just know Tokyo, he loves it. And it's a good kind of love, patient, observant, forgiving of shortcomings and commending on strengths. It really comes through in his writing and it makes for a more compelling reading experience. There was a particularly we ...more
Jodie "Bookish"  Cook
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gift, essays, guide, english
‘Motions and Moments’ is the second time I had the opportunity and pleasure reading Michael Pronko’s essays on Tokyo.

With ‘Beauty and Chaos’, his previous book I fully enjoyed, he managed to perfectly convey the spirit of this extraordinary Japanese megalopolis in a series of interesting, humorous and yet extremely educational essays. Or as Pronko said 'writing about Tokyo is like catching fish with a hollow gourd.'

In this anthology, he presents us 42 new essays, proving that he is not only the
Nick Rossi
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Adding to the burgeoning variety of reviews that Reading Other People has been posting, Michael Pronko's refreshing "Motions and Moments More Essays on Tokyo" can best be described as a cultural reveal on one of the most fascinating parts of the modern world.

The piece is collectively comprised of essays that brilliantly looks at fragments that, as a respective whole, help to identify and shed light on what life in Tokyo is really like. Instead of falling into the trap of focusing on the sensatio
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
Thanks to NetGalley for supplying me with a free copy of this book for review.

Motions and Moments offers a wonderful insight into the cultural practices, social practices and everyday life of a tokyoite.

The author is an American who has made a home for himself in Tokyo. Despite living there for years, he still feels very much an outsider to Tokyo. His observations from the outside allow the reader to experience Tokyo with all its eccentricities and wonders laid bare.

Each chapter in the book dea
Pronko’s third collection of essays about his adopted city is an eloquent tribute to a place full of contradictions and wonders. Compared to his earlier collection, Beauty and Chaos, I sense Pronko is now more comfortable in his surroundings, perhaps happier to include himself in ‘we’ rather than looking on passively at ‘them’. For instance – inspired by Japanese women’s perfect outfits – he consciously tries to dress better, and he’s taken to eating ramen and sleeping on a futon, just like a na ...more
Jun 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways, essays
A magnificent collection of essays... Just magnificent! I love essays, but this collection blew me away. I was surprised how much I liked each piece. When I am reading collections; whether of short stories, essays, etc., I always highlight my favorites to revisit later but I quickly realized I was highlighting every single essay. So I stopped highlighting and accepted the fact that I will be reading through the collection, in it's entirety multiple times. This was my first detailed look into lif ...more
Mr. Rendon
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Better than anything i expected.

I downloaded this book for free on my kindle thinking it would have an essay or two to skim before bed. Instead, Pronko painted swaths of scenes, slivers of the city that kept me curious. I highly recommend this book to anyone with any interest in Tokyo.
Nidhi Arora
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliantly written. I want to visit Tokyo now and see this for myself. So interesting..
Norm Goldman
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Michael Pronko has a natural talent to spin out words and astute perceptions in concise, steady and refreshing prose wherein every word counts and nothing is extra. This is quite in evidence in his most recent tome Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo where we are taken to various areas that few have seen and savored.

His approach to writing the essays about Tokyo and its inhabitants is an unexpected delight, both clever and insightful where he depicts not only the blemishes of Japanese cult
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Michael Pronko's short stories about Japan's culture and oddities are the next best thing to a visit, but don't expect a travelogue, here. The pleasure of Motions and Moments (as in his other writings) lies not in the usual 'things to go/places to see/I was there' approach, but in an attention to cultural dichotomies and a depth of detail that is difficult to find elsewhere.

Take the opening, for example, with begins with a note about its glossary. One might be surprised that information explaini
For the Love of Books
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In his third book of essays about living in Tokyo, Japan author Michael Pronko provides an insider’s view of the city, with the perspective/respect of a one-time outsider. As an American writing and teaching at the University level and living in Tokyo for over eighteen years, Pronko has learned how to navigate the city, the customs and all of the quirks, while still being open to adventure and new discoveries. Always ready to explore and discover something new, Pronko is proud of his residence i ...more
Renae Lucas-Hall
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! This collection of essays is just so beautifully written and it has a charming personal touch which is absolutely endearing, especially for me because I’ve lived and worked in Tokyo and I have a BA in Japanese studies. If you’ve ever lived in Japan, visited this fabulous country, or if you’re planning a trip to Tokyo you’ll definitely enjoy reading Motions and Moments. Each and every essay captures the true essence of Tokyo and its people.

Pronko’s observations are completely
Katie/Doing Dewey
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Summary: I loved the way each of these short stories bring curiosity, wonder, joy to an everyday moment.

Although I suspect that Michael Pronko's observations of Tokyo are possible in part because he's an expat living there, I would be just as happy to read essays he wrote about any country. I enjoy learning about Tokyo, the little details of another culture that make it unique and that are only visible to someone who has lived there long enough, but what I really love is the way the author captu
Jun 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
I’ve been to Tokyo, and I loved it, and I anticipated enjoying this collection of essays. Unfortunately not the case for me, although I’ve seen some rave reviews. I feel ambivalent about the writing style: it’s certainly fine, but it does not draw me in. It was nice to read about a setting that I recall, and to see its depth from someone who has lived there, but I felt that even so, it was fairly shallow. To the author, everything about Tokyo is always the superlative – the busiest, most product ...more
J Aislynn d'Merricksson
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing

***This book was reviewed for the Online Book Club***

Moments and Motions is a collection of essays by Michael Pronko, a Western transplant to Tokyo, where he teaches at university, and writes essays on life in the techno-sprawl that is Japan’s capital city. The book is broken into several sections, each with a distinct theme- Surfaces, Miniatures, Constructs, Quaking, and Serenities.

Pronko's collection is a beautiful tapestry of cultural awareness. He displays a willingness to learn about and e
Sarah Carter
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
“What slows me are small shrines tucked alongside the sidewalks of Tokyo. These shrines are ignored by most passersby, but are tucked into small lots all over the city. I always stop to look, because I love the way they insist, against all contrary evidence, that some places in this ever-changing megalopolis remain sacred.”

For foreigners, some cultures are much more difficult to immerse oneself in than others. Americans can find more in common often with some European cultures than Asian ones. I
Margaret Tidwell
FTC: I received a free copy of this book from Online Book Club in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed in this review are one hundred percent true and my own.

Motions & Moments: More Essays on Tokyo by Michael Pronko this was such an impressive set of essay’s to read. I enjoyed this because I felt like got a very good idea of what it is like in Japan. It is somewhere that I would love to visit, but I don’t know if I ever would be able to visit
Radhika Mundra
A must read for Nonfiction lovers!

I've never read non-fiction before and it feels safe to say that I couldn't have asked for a better start. The book is informative but it doesn't bore you. The writing style of the author is vividly imaginative and easy to read. It feels as if with every new essay, you're unfolding a new mystery about Tokyo. The revelation makes you a bystander; it doesn't plunge you right inside leaving enough curiosity for you to want to uncover it yourself.

As enjoyable as it
Radhika Mundra
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've never read non-fiction before and it feels safe to say that I couldn't have asked for a better start. The book is informative but it doesn't bore you. The writing style of the author is vividly imaginative and easy to read. It feels as if with every new essay, you're unfolding a new mystery about Tokyo. The revelation makes you a bystander; it doesn't plunge you right inside leaving enough curiosity for you to want to uncover it yourself.

As enjoyable as it was, this book wasn't unputdownab
Paul Franco
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This is the third book in a series that features essays about Tokyo, from an American who’s been living there for decades. The first two books were excellent in his examination of the minutiae of Japanese life that everyone else misses, and this third is more of the same sheer joyfulness. For example, it starts with the Japanese take on staring contests, a small everyday thing that was exactly the kind of event the author explained so well in the first two books.
I would have never thought anyon
Sonali Agarwal
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Read full review :

If somebody give me a chance to rename this book I would like call it ‘To Tokyo with Love’ because this book shows the immense love of Author for his beloved city Tokyo. Thanks to the Author, Now I know a lot of things about Tokyo. From the Tokyoite’s obsession with English slogan T – shirts to ‘ fitting things in’ to a coffee shops with names carved on the walls to a great jazz bar; While reading the book I felt like I was there in the
Christina Brummett
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, reading-deals
I've never read any of Pronko's work before, but after this I'm going to have to find his other essays. I've always been a Japanophile, and this series of stories about life in Tokyo made me feel like I was there. I appreciated his writing style, and will have to keep a copy of this on my Kindle for when I just need something beautiful and thought provoking to read. The only thing that would've made it easier would have been if the e-book had set up annotations/links for the various Japanese wor ...more
Misty Walker
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I very rarely listen to this type of book, preferring fiction but this was given to me so I turned it on and was transported to Japan. I loved hearing all of these short stories and really felt entertained as well as gaining some knowledge. It was excellent.

The narrator was great as well. The tone and inflection in his voice kept my attention and kept me involved in the stories.
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo by Michael Pronko is a delightful book for those that like to travel and those that are interested in Tokyo culture. The essays are well detailed, concise and clear. There are many subjects covered, from futons and t-shirt slogans to earthquakes and language. The essays afford an in depth look into the culture and life, all from the perspective of an American who started out as a tourist. This book certainly has made me feel like visiting now, sounds lik ...more
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
A collection of fine, simple yet deeply observations about the everyday life in Tokyo. Each essay has the grace and strength of a Japanese letter, the result of the almost two decades of expat life experiences of the author. It is one of the few contemporary books about Japan and especially Tokya I'd read recently witnessing the curiosity and interest of the author towards the Japanese culture, instead of haughty outline of the difference 'we' vs. 'they'.
Disclaimer: The publisher offered me the
Kishan Swain
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Motions and Moments book by Michael Pronko is a collection of essays about Tokyo. Though being an American, having stayed in Tokyo for a long time he has captured the essence of Tokyo in his descriptive essays. These essays are collection of monthly columns he wrote for Newsweek Japan. He gives a bird’s eye view about the lifestyle of Tokyo and how the city continuously reinvents itself to cope up with the fast advancing world.

Read more about the book on my blog
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
Of all the countries in Asia, Japan is probably the most insulated and difficult to understand for a foreigner. Pronko has 15 years of slow observation. Sometimes the best drama is not in tumultuous events but in the small idiosyncrasies of a city and its people. This collection, on topics like Japanese naming conventions, late night travel, cleanliness and perfectly dressed women, makes for an interesting and enlightening read. His mindfulness over many years is to be respected.
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the second of Michael's books of essays on Tokyo I have been lucky enough to read.
Our visit there this year fell through, so I enjoyed these even more than usual. Really the next best thing to going there as they are so descriptive and nicely written.
I could very much relate to the failure of homemade onigiri too. That chapter made me smile.
Very enjoyable reading about everything from changes in the city to ohanami.
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book shines in so many ways. It is a series of essays written by an American teacher/writer living in Tokyo for many years. Informative and interesting, the book is a crash course of sorts on Tokyo culture.
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Michael Pronko is an award-winning, Tokyo-based writer of murder, memoir and music. His writings on Tokyo life and his taut character-driven mysteries have won critics’ awards and five-star reviews. Kirkus Reviews called his second novel, The Moving Blade, “An elegant balance of Japanese customs with American-style hard-boiled procedural” and selected it for their Best Books of 2018.

Michael also

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“Your unique individuality seems a petty thing, less important by far than what connects you to everyone else.” 0 likes
“Onigiri are like a haiku of the entire Japanese food culture.” 0 likes
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