Sorta Book Review: Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein

Topic started by Matte on Jan. 16, 2010. Last post by John_Martone 5 years, 1 month ago.
Post by Matte (181 posts) See mini bio Level 4
My writing is atrocious, you are forewarned.  And if this needs to be moved, by all means do.
 He kinda looks like a Jewish CoCo.  Maybe...
 He kinda looks like a Jewish CoCo.  Maybe...

Tokyo Vice is an interesting and insightful read into Japan's subculture of drugs, prostitution, and the yakuza.  Written by Jake Adelstein, a Jewish-American citizen who was hired by the Yomiuri Shimbun (the biggest newspaper in Japan) and who worked for them for more than a decade.  Adelstein takes us into his police beat covering dog breeding serial killers, Japan's sex industry, and yakuza crime bosses.
Between the main story of how he became a journalist in Japan and being threatened by a yakuza crime boss, there's plenty of looks into Japan's society.  I found the particular bits of hostess and host clubs interesting, as that seems to be going on more and more in America as well, not clubs, but the services.  Mainly host/hostess clubs sell services that equate to giving affection and intimacy, or GFE, the girlfriend experience.  Customers who frequent such places are usually looking to stave off loneliness, or to find someone who will listen.  You might say hosts are part friend, therapist, psychologist while looking good and lavishing attention on you.  But it's an unstated fact that when your money runs out, so does the service.
Insights like that were where I had the most fun.  Adelstein, being a journalist gives us a look into places of Japan we normally could not see.  His workings with the police and yakuza were also very informative and had me feeling very lucky at times to be living in America.  If your a bit of a Japonophile, or you like learning about the underbellies of some cultures this will be a great read for you.
Post by Addfwyn (408 posts) See mini bio Level 16
The sample of this has been sitting on my kindle for a while, so does it seem more like an ethnologue or a documentary to you?  I'm imagining he takes more of a documentary approach, being a journalist.  I'm pretty familiar with the japanese sex trade (and I mean that in the least dirty and most innocent way possible) but if it hits on other areas of Japanese crime a lot more, then it could be an interesting read.  I don't really want to buy a book too heavily focused on host clubs or something though, which aren't even questionable in legality. 
But if it does address actual areas of Japanese crime life, that could be pretty interesting I feel.  
Post by Matte (181 posts) See mini bio Level 4
@Addfwyn: It's more of a memoir rather than a documentary or ehtnologue.
He does focus on host clubs for a chapter, mainly to tell the his involvement with the Lucie Blackman story, but it's not heavily focused on in general.  His main focus, which is more prominent in the later chapters, are about the Yakuza and the story he uncovers which threatens his life.  There's also his stories of homicides, suicides, robberies, etc.  If that was holding you back, I'd suggest you try it.  To be honest, it felt more like reading an adventure in some parts, probably because I don't know enough about the culture.
Post by John_Martone (2,992 posts) See mini bio Level 10
Hmm. It seems like a book I could get behind reading. The real depiction of something in a place that can seem unreal to us usual has a strong allure for me, especially if it is spun that way.
Remember when you were like, "My writing is atrocious, you are forewarned." Yeah, a little wrong.
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