This is the second of Alex Kerr’s books on Japan that I’ve read, and it certainly doesn’t hold back. It’s critical – rightly so, in many cases – of the ornate, backhander-rich culture that permeates government and industry, of the blinkered educational aims of the country, of the done-with-mirrors, waiting-for-collapse economic system, the addiction to government works and needless halls that bankrupt cities and swell construction coffers, the lack of regulation and the wholesale disregard for culture, simplicity and the landscape which outsiders associate with Japan.
The man’s distaste and fear couldn’t be better conveyed if each chapter were entitled SHIT’S FUCKED in 72-point type, followed by pages of onomatopoeic screams.
And yet part of me – as a big ole gaijin myself – wonders how much of the writing is the result of the foreign lens being brought to bear, with the baggage that brings. (more…)