A Colorful Take on Tokyo Living
Tales from Tokyo have become a time honored tradition in the travel writing world, but in his book Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries, Tim Anderson flashes his two years living in the city through a kaleidoscope of humor, honesty and self awareness that provides a whole new perspective.
White, gay, Southern and “languishing”, Anderson leaves behind his life in Raleigh, North Carolina to teach English in Japan’s capital city. In Japanese “gaijin” means outsider and refers to all non-natives. Broken down into sixteen short stories with titles like: The Empress of Ginza and GaijinMan and the Lady-killer, Anderson explores topics well known to foreigners in Japan including the strange phenomenon of the socially awkward American, Australian or British man that gains rock star status and innumerable girlfriends when landing on Japanese soil.
As a southern gentleman Anderson is polite and tactful, but does not sweep under the rug some of the more unseemly portions of his adventure, for instance his meeting with a proselytizing Japanese Christian while on his way to buy porn in Shinjuku, or the enlightening experience he has with a part of the female anatomy when looking for a comfy seat in a night club after taking a few mushrooms.
Balancing out the raunchier tales, are heartwarming episodes where Anderson works to connect with Japanese culture like the elated sense of belonging he feels after his first language lesson and the bond he creates with a Japanese classical pianist through music.
Witty chapter subtitles like: “In which our hero’s new roommate becomes an international metaphor for something god-awful”, propel you into the story and keep you guessing. Pages thick with humor, including Anderson’s description of his salary at his inspiring, but low paying job at a southern literary journal as “slightly less than that earned by American Heart Association volunteers” make the book a worthwhile and entertaining page turner.