First off, this is a book of hand-drawn comics, as well as blog posts that act as a commentary to said comics. The author is the well known blogger and Youtuber, Texan in Tokyo, and as a fan of her channel, I asked for her books for Christmas and so received the first three as a gift (she actually has four books out, but the last one is only available on kindle at the moment, and I’m a lover of physical copies). This is a review of the first book she released.
So, onto the book itself:
As the title suggests, the heart of this book focuses on Grace’s experiences in Japan as a foreigner, and how she and her husband Ryosuke accommodate each others’ cultural differences. There are also great insights into daily life in Japan, such as learning how to separate the rubbish (or trash) appropriately (not just ‘recycling’ or ‘non-recycling’, but ‘burnable’, ‘non-burnable’, ‘plastics, cans and glass bottles’ and ‘PET bottles and paper’) and what to do if you miss the postman.
The comics are in black and white, and mostly depict humorous situations, while the commentary delves into some more serious topics, like dealing with negative comments on intercultural relationships, accepting the differences in beauty standards, and how to handle hate comments on social media.
There’s also lots of interesting facts about Japan, from correct etiquette on trains and in onsen (Japanese hot springs, where bathers go naked) to explanations of certain types of food.
Being mostly comics, this book is a quick read, but it’s very much an enjoyable one. Grace’s writing style is light and easy to read, and the comics genuinely made me laugh aloud. The pages are packed with wit and humour, and what I like most is that the vast majority of content is based off of things that actually happened to Grace and Ryosuke. It also left me feeling warm and happy about the future, simply because it’s such a nice read.
In conclusion, I’d have to say that if you have any interest in Japanese culture or wonder what an intercultural relationship is really like, pick up this book. You won’t be disappointed.