Cover Image: Cultured Gaijin

Cultured Gaijin

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Member Reviews

Cultured Gaijin is an interesting memoir following young man who determined to get acceptance in Japan. This book offer us insights  as foreign to understand some cultures and systems at Japan and how to adapting for daily basis. 
I like the story, the background history, description and all the insight stories. It is intriguing and make me want learning more about Japan.

Thank you Netgalley and BooksGoSocial for provided me with this copy. I am enjoyed my reading time but my thoughts are my own.
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A coming of age(ish) tale of a US military intelligence officer stationed in Japan in the late 1970s. The narrative covers life on US military base and life out in Tokyo. It seems that the US military lot enjoy a good swear - this may be off putting to some readers - and the references to himself/his dad as ‘Stallions’ is somewhat cringey.

The question facing our author is his identity: is he Joey, the American-Italian Catholic or is he Jo-san, the American studing to be Japanese? The story is told in a meandering fashion as he weighs up different options with a number of anecdotes about life in Japan as well as meeting some American expats who resolutely refuse to obey any Japanese customs (which causes Jo-san and us to wince inwardly). This meandering style keeps the reader guessing as to what’s coming next which may not work for all readers.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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As a world traveler I've always tried to respect the cultural differences and pay close attention to hat is acceptable around the world. Joseph Delmastro's Cultured Gaijin gives an intimate portrait of how this acceptance can determine acceptance in a foreign country. In Japan, first as a young Air Force man assigned to a base near Tokyo, he as introduced to Japanese society by his friends who were also in the military. Fortunately for him he soon made friends with a young Japanese woman and her mother. He learned two different ways to behave in Japanese society and saw the good and bad of both. 

With his desire to remain in Japan after leaving the Air Force, Joe had to make a decision on how he wanted to be seen by the Japanese - either as a gaijin, who are normally not well accepted, or a understanding and cultured gaijin, who acted in ways that were respectful and mostly accepted by the Japanese. With his love of a young Japanese woman, he learned more than most gaijin, these lessons leading to a dramatic conclusion of the book and of his love of all things Japanese.
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This book has so much potential but for me it felt like it was written by an excitable frat boy.  I didn’t like the use of ‘deaf and dumb’ - offensive, and describing someone as being from ‘Hicksville, USA, who could pass for Gomes Pyle’s brother’. All these are offensive and not in an ‘Oh Oh, PC warrior!’ alert kind of way. They’re outdated, offensive, comments. 

Had this book been written with more maturity, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. The descriptions of shopping and socialising experiences, navigating the transport system, Ma and Pa’s, Japanese history and culture, these were all great but I am sorely disappointed. I didn’t finish. 2/5 is all I can muster and that is given with a hope that there will be a re-write.
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Having lived in Japan during the same time period as the author, of course I was eager to read this book and hear his perspective and experiences. I was pleasantly surprised by the writing itself which was quite well done. The story line was interesting though I felt like a fish on a hook, wondering how it would all end. Is it a love story or something else? It's a bit hard to categorize.
All in all, this short book gives an intriguing look at a time and a place and a coming-of-age. Anyone interested in Japan and specifically life in Japan for Americans will find this book of interest. Is there a follow up book planned? Because.... I'm waiting!

Also, for non-Japanese speakers, the glossary at the end of each chapter was a great touch!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book.
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