Paulo from Portugal contacted me through LinkedIN with the request whether I could share with him my preferred English based news websites worthwhile to visit in regard to Japan (“not in a highly deep level but more to know of relevant things that are happening in Japan”). As I am always very happy to be contacted through comments here directly on the blog, twitter or LinkedIN, I think the question raised by Paulo is worthwhile to create an article. Of course there are many sites, books and movies to recommend, so I will focus only on those sites I visit for sure several times a week, book content that stayed with me and movies that I have seen at least twice.
My every day lighter news source is Japan Probe. I get my daily updates by email through subscription of what topics are popular on TV. For serious deeper level news update, I prefer Wall Street Journal (Japan Real Time). Although most of the news are written from a Western Perspective, unlike other news sources I perceive Japan Real Time from a less US based viewpoint than others. Otherwise from a Japanese perspective either the English version of Asahi Shimbun or Yomiuri Shimbun works for me.
There are many books written in regard to Japan, but a lot are outdated and do not reflect the present Japanese culture or business style. If you like to have a good laugh while reading about Japan, check out Amy Chavez “Japan, Sunny Side Up”. When time finally allows, I will be reviewing the book on this blog too. If you are interested in the heart of business dealings of the Japanese companies with foreign companies, a great eye opener is “Saving the Sun: A Wall Street Gamble to Rescue Japan from its Trillion-Dollar Meltdown” by Gillian Tett. It is the true story on how Shinsei Bank came into being. Another page turner about the darker sides of Tokyo is written by Jake Adelstein “Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan”.
If you want to see a heart warming movie about the Showa Period, check out “Always: Sunset on Third Street” (ALWAYS 三丁目の夕日). Actually there are two parts of this movie and no matter which you see, I can guarantee you a couple of heartful, teary moments. Although the story is based on a manga from the past, the strength of the story is to remember how small town once Tokyo was. In order to observe more about Japanese culture I recommend Departures (おくりびと, Okuribito). Although death plays an important role in this movie, for me personally it is an optimistic, respectful movie. Let’s say you are interested to know what it actually means for some Japanese salarymen to work for a larger Japanese company, do watch: Sun Never Sets (太陽は沈まない). Although it is a very long movie, I have heard a lot from the original book was cut, but still I am deeply impressed by this movie.
Enjoy all the above sources and do remember, if you have any questions or comments, just add it here or contact me under LinkedIN or then twitter (sibylleito).
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)