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Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries    by Tim Anderson order for
Tune in Tokyo
by Tim Anderson
Order:  USA  Can
Amazon, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In his Author's Note at the beginning of Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries, Tim Anderson calls his book 'a light-hearted romp through Japan's capital, my love letter to the city and its people.' He introduces himself as 'a college graduate with such impeccable credentials as a BA in English, diabetes, credit card debt, Roman nose, and a fierce and unstoppable homosexuality' and explains the he left his three part-time jobs in Raleigh, in search of his destiny.

The tall, white, gay Southerner took a job teaching English with MOBA, a popular Japanese language school (that he later learned is far from picky in their hiring practices), and describes his experiences with an alien culture - and with a variety of eccentric expatriate fellow teachers from around the world - in a self-deprecating style, laced with humor.

It's fun to share his experiences and observations - such as giving up his seat to a Yoda on the subway; being entertained by new friends playing a humongous Japanese harp; or looking for ways to elicit responses from his students and finally getting a rather terrifying pot stirrer in his class.

He muses about why beautiful young Japanese women ('surely the most sublimely and ridiculously dressed girls on the planet') accept dates from all the Barney Rubbles (often ugly foreigners); about the country's obsession with cuteness; and why teen girls devour yaoi manga (about love between men) with such fascination.

Leaving two years later, Anderson tells us that 'In so many ways, Japan is America on Opposite Day'. Having been there in the 80s, and having often wondered about teaching English overseas when I travelled, I enjoyed this entertaining update on modern Tokyo seen through gaijin eyes.

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