At 19, Jake Adelstein went to Japan in search of peace and tranquility. What he got was a life of crime - crime reporting, that is, at the prestigious Yomiuri Shinbun.
For 12 years of 80-hour workweeks, he covered the seedy side of Japan, where extortion, murder, human trafficking, and corruption are as familiar as ramen noodles and sake. But when his final scoop brought him face to face with Japan's most infamous yakuza boss - and the threat of death for him and his family - Adelstein decided to step down...momentarily. Then, he fought back.
In Tokyo Vice, Adelstein tells the riveting, often humorous tale of his journey from an inexperienced cub reporter - who made rookie mistakes like getting into a martial-arts battle with a senior editor - to a daring, investigative journalist with a price on his head. With its vivid, visceral descriptions of crime in Japan and an exploration of the world of modern-day yakuza that even few Japanese ever see, Tokyo Vice is a fascination, and an education, from first to last.
©2009 Jake Adelstein; (P)2009 Random House
"Not just a hard-boiled true-crime thriller, but an engrossing, troubling look at crime and human exploitation in Japan." (Kirkus)
"A deeply thought-provoking book: equal parts cultural exposé, true crime, and hard-boiled noir." (Publishers Weekly,)
Having lived in Japan for 10 years now I often find myself avoiding books about Japan. It is not that there is a lack of interest but I simply can only take so much of the same old stories. However, this book was something very different. It was a great look into the side of Japan that most people never hear about. Although I had an idea of what I was getting myself into when I chose this book I still was pleasently suprised with the author's approach to some experiences he shared in the book. worth trying if you want an alternative to all the 'Japanese fun & culture' books out there today.
Yes, It's a good story, especially for a reader interested in Japanese Culture
Description of the scenarios. I could vividly imagine the situations encountered by the narrator. Having traveled to Japan before, and believing it to be this idealistic place with no crime, this really proves that the Japanese society, like most societies, is not perfect.
Unfortunately, his narration was a little dorky... and awkward. He stumbled on his words many times.. both English words and any Japanese words he had to say. It made me take the story not-so-seriously, as if the narrator didn't truly live these events. He also didn't take his time reading, so, dramatic effect was lost. It was like he was nervous and didn't practice, and just posted the first take of the book.
The most interesting tidbit that I picked up was that the Japanese Mafia (yakuza) functions outside of Japan, very heavily.. Also that there are books and guidelines written in Japanese on how to ..basically live your life, or "leave" your life.
New narrator please, or re-record it.
If you are interested in Japanese culture, this is a great listen. It presents the side of the culture, primarily crime, that is rarely show in full light. It shows the seeder parts of Japan as seen through the eyes of an American who has spent a great portion of his life there.
The author's story is fascinating, but it takes awhile before I cared enough to look forward to my commute with this audiobook. Mr. Adelstein is a competent, but not brilliant, reader of his work, but he did grow on me. Ultimately, his story raised as many disturbing questions about Japanese society and law enforcement as it answered but it was an interesting peek into another, very different culture from our own.
A deep insight into the world of Japanese gangsters and a reporters life in late night
Toyko. Conversations with top Japanese gang leaders, real stories including the
liver transplants at UCLA and the true job of a "club hostess"
I enjoyed this book. Adelstein reads the book and you really feel like you are privy to his inside story. Good narration and interesting look at the under world of Japan, a country often touted as the "safest" country in the world.
How Jake changed over the years from the fresh out of college, enthusiastic gaijin reporter to a tired, weathered oyaji with his own red badge of courage. The entire book kept my attention and wanting to keep listening.
He was telling his own story. I felt like he was confiding in me with his personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
--the dark side of humanity.
I hope the author can find peace after all he has seen.
Jake Adelstein gives an engaging and interesting look into life in the underworld of Japan's capital--something that few Japanese reporters are willing to expose and even fewer foreigners are allowed to glimpse. Having lived in Japan for over 15 years, I remember some of the things Adelstein reports on and it was great to get the real story behind the news.
The author's narration was not as gripping as a professional narrator may have produced but the large number of Japanese words might have given a non-Japanese speaker trouble. Adelstein's choice to ensure that words and names were pronounced correctly overcame any deficiencies which came up due to his amateur narration. (Personally, hearing words or names pronounced incorrectly seriously distracts from my focus on the story.)
If you're interested in Japan or in journalism, this book is a must-read. I strongly recommend this book.
Fear is the mind Killer, so Face Your Fear
it showed me a side of Japanese culture i had never known.
I was suprised at the true passion that came from his voice.
Jake. He started out with a singular naive take no prisoners focus, only to end up realizing he had a heart.....too late
the Yakuza are Korean immigrant based.
It was stunning the realism, and the extemes a real man would go to to uncover a story. I hope he writes more. I kind of pity him and I kind of envy him. He has lead a real life. he has experienced so much pain, yet hurt so many. Karma.
mostly nonfiction listener
I like the idea of Tokyo Vice better than the actual book. The set-up is great. American guy (my age) goes to college in Japan and stays on to join the countries biggest newspaper as a crime reporter. In the process he illuminates aspects of Japanese culture and society that have been previously hidden to non-Japanese, including (but not limited to), the Japanese newspaper culture, and the Japanese crime culture, the Japanese strip club / prostitution / vice culture. The problem is that this book would have been much better as a novel than a piece of non-fiction.
Adelstein, I'm guessing, was simply too constricted by real life (namely a real life spouse and children) to either get really dirty and go native in the Tokyo vice scene, or to tell about it if he did indeed descend into the moral darkness. What is interesting about the story, and precisely the part that Adelstein hints at but always seems to shy away from, is the raunch, sin, violence and sex. We really don't think the story of a Japanese crime boss getting a liver transplant stateside is all that interesting.
What is fascinating is seeing a gaijin penetrate, and succumb, to the temptations of hookers, strippers, drugs, booze, thugs, and story telling that should be a Tokyo vice reporters life. We want to know more about the underside of Japan from a perspective (American, male) that we can relate.
I really enjoyed this story, but I have to agree with the other commenters that the narration did detract somewhat from the story. Still, I wouldn't let that stop you from downloading this book if you are a fan of true crime stories and Japanese culture.
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