Your audiobook is waiting…

Japan Story

In Search of a Nation, 1850 to the Present
Narrated by: Christopher Harding
Length: 16 hrs and 24 mins
Categories: History, World
5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Japan Story, written and read by Christopher Harding.  

This is a fresh and surprising account of Japan's culture from the 'opening up' of the country in the mid-19th century to the present.  

It is told through the eyes of people who greeted this change not with the confidence and grasping ambition of Japan's modernisers and nationalists but with resistance, conflict, distress.   

We encounter writers of dramas, ghost stories and crime novels where modernity itself is the tragedy, the ghoul and the bad guy; surrealist and avant-garde artists sketching their escape; rebel kamikaze pilots and the put-upon urban poor; hypnotists and gangsters; men in desperate search of the eternal feminine and feminists in search of something more than state-sanctioned subservience; Buddhists without morals; Marxist terror groups; couches full to bursting with the psychological fall-out of breakneck modernisation. 

These people all sprang from the soil of modern Japan, but their personalities and projects failed to fit. They were 'dark blossoms': both East-West hybrids and homegrown varieties that wreathed, probed and sometimes penetrated the new structures of mainstream Japan. 

©2018 Christopher Harding (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

Critic Reviews

"How much I admired it, what a lot I learned from it and, above all, how very much I enjoyed it...Masterly." (Neil MacGregor)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Neil
  • Neil
  • 07-24-19

Unlikely premise, but very well executed

When I chose this book, I was surprised to find it a story of Japan, largely through the lens of psychoanalysis, but actually it works very well. It was an extremely effective device to getting you inside the heads of a distant people that many of us know little about. Read by the author, very clearly and easy to listen to. Well worth the time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for d t
  • d t
  • 03-14-19

Enjoyable and informing friendly history

I lived in Japan for a year, and found his boundless enthusiasm familiar and entertaining.
Historical situations were explained through characters and people's experiences, which suited me, and jumped forward and back in time, which I also thought was fine, though it annoyed other reviewers who presumably preferred a more ordered textbook.
I can't say how balanced a 'historical document' it was, but I was comfortable with it and enjoyed it very much.
Will listen again.
Hope he gets to play in the garden now.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Chris Kelly
  • Chris Kelly
  • 12-27-18

A well researched plod fest

Firstly I need to say that I would like to write a book but I haven't got round to it yet. Chris Harding has done and so I give him endless praise and respect for doing so.

The book is split into chapters e.g. "Such and such era 1800 - 1850" but the book wanders all round the time periods. You can be in the 1980 era when an interesting anecdote is dropped only for the author to say that happened 50 years before the chapter you are in. This happens continually through the book to the extent that the chapters are almost irrelevant.

My end feeling was that the book is basically a discussion or talk about everything the author knows about Japan. A lot of that was of interest to be otherwise I wouldn't have bought the book. 16 hours in I didn't feel any more immersed than I was in the first minute. The highlight for me came early on it was the American's first encounter with Japan. An unbelievable story and hard to believe that it really happened. The author has a nice voice and sounds like a great guy, his Japanese sounds amazing and I praise him endlessly for sounding so fluent.

If you have any interest in Japan either present day or historically you will get something from this book. But it isn't as truly incredible as some other non fiction books which I didn't want to end.

e.g. Absolute Pandemonium by Brian Blessed
Canoeing the Congo
The Cyclist who Went Out into the Cold
No Shortcuts To The Top by Ed Viesturs

all of those books are gripping and thrilling and at times hilarious.

Congratulations again to Chris Harding and all the best to him in the future. I hope people buy his book and make him lots of Yen

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Philip
  • Philip
  • 09-16-19

Superb!

Well written modern history of Japan, with emphasis on the pop culture. Brought alive by the many relevant side stories.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon customer
  • Amazon customer
  • 08-29-19

Informative and refreshing

This is a highly enjoyable survey of post-Meiji Japan, which deftly combines political, cultural and social threads. There may be too much emphasis on "pop" issues for some, yet the result is far from glib and I learned a great deal of useful background.