A delightful memoir of the author’s five-decade love affair with a city that “hypnotized” him and never let go.READ REVIEW
60 YEARS OF BRIGHT LIGHTS AND BACK ALLEYS…AND BASEBALL
BY ROBERT WHITING ‧ RELEASE DATE: APRIL 20, 2021
A“callow young man…searching for an identity” finds a wondrous metropolis on the other side of the world.
Whiting, who has authored multiple books on Japan and Tokyo, including Tokyo Underworld (1999), begins in 1962, when he was assigned to the city by the U.S. Air Force. In this heartfelt, clearly labor-of-love work, he chronicles both his vast personal changes as well as the enormous transformation that the city of Tokyo has undergone since the early 1960s. As a 19-year-old soldier from California, Whiting arrived just as Japan was gaining momentum economically and planning for the historic 1964 Olympics (Tokyo was the first city in Asia chosen to host the games). As Whiting vividly demonstrates, the preparations involved massive construction, congestion, pollution, noise, crowds, and lively nightlife, which the author depicts in rollicking fashion. At the time, the city “had more bars per square kilometer than anywhere in the world.” Fortunately for Whiting, anti-Americanism from the war years had dissipated, and Americans were largely revered, especially by women. Once decommissioned, the author stayed on to experience this “crazy trip through the Looking Glass,” first as a student and then English tutor and editor for Encyclopedia Britannica, “one of the fastest growing companies in Japan.” Despite being warned by his more experienced American colleagues that Japan was not a place for a young man (“jaundiced advice that was easy to ignore”), Whiting stayed until he was 30 before moving to New York City—“the polar opposite to Tokyo in many glaring respects…a violent, decaying metropolis”—where he wrote a book about Japanese baseball, “a quintessentially American sport…that gave me my first true connection to Japan and its people.” Throughout the book, the author delivers consistently entertaining details about nearly all aspects of Japanese daily life and culture, creating a priceless document of the rise of one of the world’s great cities.A delightful memoir of the author’s five-decade love affair with a city that “hypnotized” him and never let go.