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Getting Genki In Japan: The Adventures and Misadventures of an American Family in Tokyo

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The unexpected gift of a favored bottle of shiraz from her husband leads to the adventure of a lifetime for Karen Pond and her family—moving from rural Maine to the largest city in the world: Tokyo, Japan. Getting Genki in Japan is a collection of illustrated travel and culture essays and musings of a Down East Mom's absurd and exhilarating adventures in the Far East. From The unexpected gift of a favored bottle of shiraz from her husband leads to the adventure of a lifetime for Karen Pond and her family—moving from rural Maine to the largest city in the world: Tokyo, Japan. Getting Genki in Japan is a collection of illustrated travel and culture essays and musings of a Down East Mom's absurd and exhilarating adventures in the Far East. From bewildered and befuddled (and back again) to (somewhat) wise, these narratives recount a journey of cultural discoveries, experiences and the follies of a newcomer to Japan; including (mis)identifying food, (mis)pronouncing Japanese, (mis)pantomiming for necessities, and finally figuring out how to flush the Japanese toilet!


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The unexpected gift of a favored bottle of shiraz from her husband leads to the adventure of a lifetime for Karen Pond and her family—moving from rural Maine to the largest city in the world: Tokyo, Japan. Getting Genki in Japan is a collection of illustrated travel and culture essays and musings of a Down East Mom's absurd and exhilarating adventures in the Far East. From The unexpected gift of a favored bottle of shiraz from her husband leads to the adventure of a lifetime for Karen Pond and her family—moving from rural Maine to the largest city in the world: Tokyo, Japan. Getting Genki in Japan is a collection of illustrated travel and culture essays and musings of a Down East Mom's absurd and exhilarating adventures in the Far East. From bewildered and befuddled (and back again) to (somewhat) wise, these narratives recount a journey of cultural discoveries, experiences and the follies of a newcomer to Japan; including (mis)identifying food, (mis)pronouncing Japanese, (mis)pantomiming for necessities, and finally figuring out how to flush the Japanese toilet!

30 review for Getting Genki In Japan: The Adventures and Misadventures of an American Family in Tokyo

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shari

    2 stars for content, 4 stars for illustrations. LOVED the illustrations in this book, but I found myself mortified with the author's behavior in Japan. Way too many faux pas that could easily have been remedied reading the most basic of Japanese travel books. I found myself being embarrassed to be American -- what they must think of us if people act like such dolts when visiting there. Nevertheless, it was cute, quick read, but it just -- needed a bit more common sense and cultural awareness. Alt 2 stars for content, 4 stars for illustrations. LOVED the illustrations in this book, but I found myself mortified with the author's behavior in Japan. Way too many faux pas that could easily have been remedied reading the most basic of Japanese travel books. I found myself being embarrassed to be American -- what they must think of us if people act like such dolts when visiting there. Nevertheless, it was cute, quick read, but it just -- needed a bit more common sense and cultural awareness. Although maybe that wouldn't be a book then. :D

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mobyskine

    Tak sangka aku akan bagi 4 bintang untuk buku ini. Menarik, lucu dan kasihan dengan pengalaman penulis yang terpaksa hidup di negara asing, dan Jepun yang punya some sort of unique system dari tempahan meja makan ke fitting room rules. Tak campur lagi masalah bahasa, masalah pronunciation, train schedule and exits, hal makanan, salah beli groceries, khidmat penghantaran barang, on how to use a chopstick and all- memang bersimpati sangat. But somehow penulis ceritakan pengalaman dia dengan ritma Tak sangka aku akan bagi 4 bintang untuk buku ini. Menarik, lucu dan kasihan dengan pengalaman penulis yang terpaksa hidup di negara asing, dan Jepun yang punya some sort of unique system dari tempahan meja makan ke fitting room rules. Tak campur lagi masalah bahasa, masalah pronunciation, train schedule and exits, hal makanan, salah beli groceries, khidmat penghantaran barang, on how to use a chopstick and all- memang bersimpati sangat. But somehow penulis ceritakan pengalaman dia dengan ritma positif jadi aku jatuh suka pada buku ini. Extra rating point untuk ilustrasi yang comel-comel dan penambah seri. One funny chapter yang aku suka pasal scene makan edamame- aku pun pernah ada pengalaman macam tu masa mula-mula dapat sepiring edamame for the first time few years back. Ketawa sendiri bila baca kisah penulis yang saling tak tumpah dengan pengalaman pertama aku juga. Tapi kudos pada penulis sebab dalam banyak-banyak hal susah payah dia di Jepun, masih juga dia cuba sesuaikan diri and enjoying new lifestyle. This one, masuk rak favourite :)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    A bunch of culture-shock vignettes by a woman who's moved to Japan--I liked the self-deprecating tone and the ability to see oneself as the strange one and not just focus on Japanese culture as alien. A bunch of culture-shock vignettes by a woman who's moved to Japan--I liked the self-deprecating tone and the ability to see oneself as the strange one and not just focus on Japanese culture as alien.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    Funny, short stories about life as a foreign family in Tokyo and how small tasks - buying cocoa, concert tickets, ordering pizza - become monumental tasks! Great introduction to Japanese culture and the eccentricities of life in Japan.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nattapan

    3.5 stars. Hilarious. Language and cultural differences always make the world much more interesting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brandi

    Very funny! Very real!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    This is the best book for a good laugh after having been in Japan for a few months. You go through it all but it's so much funnier to read about it than experience it. ❤️ This is the best book for a good laugh after having been in Japan for a few months. You go through it all but it's so much funnier to read about it than experience it. ❤️

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I love Japan. I have traveled Japan, studied Japan, and thoroughly enjoyed all things Japanese. I got this book from the library after a quick perusal at the bookstore. Karen Pond is a good anecdotal writer, and the "Fish out of Water" genre is pretty entertaining. This is a short book, a fun read, a quick read, and a book I wish I could give 3.5 stars to. There were some things I appreciated and some things that inexplicably bothered me. What I appreciated: I remember feeling very ignorant and awk I love Japan. I have traveled Japan, studied Japan, and thoroughly enjoyed all things Japanese. I got this book from the library after a quick perusal at the bookstore. Karen Pond is a good anecdotal writer, and the "Fish out of Water" genre is pretty entertaining. This is a short book, a fun read, a quick read, and a book I wish I could give 3.5 stars to. There were some things I appreciated and some things that inexplicably bothered me. What I appreciated: I remember feeling very ignorant and awkward at times when there was something I couldn't understand while traveling. I am a person who loves to feel "in the know," and it takes a big leap of faith to completely change your life. I could appreciate some of her uncomfortable feelings. I also found some of her anecdotes highly amusing. The pregnancy test anecdote and food-related ones were especially charming. Japanese is a difficult language. It is built with subtleties we don't rely on in English. She must have struggled a bunch with developing an ear, an eye, and a tongue for the language. What I didn't appreciate: I wish the book would have been a little meatier. I read it in a day, and the anecdotes are nice, but many are forgettable. I wish she had explained the "octopus balls" comment. After realizing she wasn't dealing with genitalia, I wish she would have taken a sentence to talk about what takoyaki is (it's yummy!). Sometimes, I feel like she was too enjoying the portrayal of herself as an "ugly American." Even if it was tongue-in-cheek. All in all, if you have spent extensive time in Japan or lived abroad anywhere, you may find a lot to identify with in this book. A solid read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    Despite my bad rating I really enjoyed this book. But not for the right reasons. I enjoyed it like you can enjoy a ridiculously bad movie. Yes this book was bad. The woman telling her story is completely retarded. Now don't get me wrong, I understand (for having done it myself) that living in a foreign country with a complete different language and culture can be hard. But everywhere in the world there is a thing called common sense. And this woman has a serious lack of it. Now some could argue Despite my bad rating I really enjoyed this book. But not for the right reasons. I enjoyed it like you can enjoy a ridiculously bad movie. Yes this book was bad. The woman telling her story is completely retarded. Now don't get me wrong, I understand (for having done it myself) that living in a foreign country with a complete different language and culture can be hard. But everywhere in the world there is a thing called common sense. And this woman has a serious lack of it. Now some could argue that the stories she tells aren't true, that she just made them up to be funny, witty and to make a point about the difficulties of living abroad. Well it's not funny, REALLY not (the dinner today is onictober, onigiri in October, get it get it? HA-HA-HA.....), it's the opposite of witty, and the only point it makes is that it must be hard to live, not abroad, but simply to live, when you're THAT stupid. But for some reason I like mocking imbeciles so yeah I enjoyed this book, we can say it's one of my guilty pleasures. But seriously it was bad.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Canesgalactica

    Okay, so as a person currently living in Japan who also happens to be an American, I found this book to be pretty apt at summarizing (mostly) what it's like to live here as a foreign citizen. The bits about standing in queues (lines) and learning about different customs for events like weddings was particularly funny to me as I find myself immersed in those activities quite often (not always by choice). The illustrations are actually pretty well done, too and fit the tone of this lighthearted boo Okay, so as a person currently living in Japan who also happens to be an American, I found this book to be pretty apt at summarizing (mostly) what it's like to live here as a foreign citizen. The bits about standing in queues (lines) and learning about different customs for events like weddings was particularly funny to me as I find myself immersed in those activities quite often (not always by choice). The illustrations are actually pretty well done, too and fit the tone of this lighthearted book splendidly. I would honestly recommend this for any English speaking person who plans to stay in Japan for any extended amount of time as learning to survive here is not just about learning the language, but immersing yourself in the culture.. and even then, chances are, you are still going to make mistakes, misunderstand something and be seen as 'that American person', regardless if you are here for a year.. or twenty.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Yue

    It is so funny to discover new and strange things about Japan. Or just to read about them. Some things I've already known, like the pedicure with the fish. Or the onsen. Others, like the little thing you have to wear when you are in a department store was totally new. Japan is so different from anything I know. Which is the reason why a book about Japan will never, EVER, be boring. What I did not like about this book was the "humor" of the author. I feel like she was trying to hard to be funny. S It is so funny to discover new and strange things about Japan. Or just to read about them. Some things I've already known, like the pedicure with the fish. Or the onsen. Others, like the little thing you have to wear when you are in a department store was totally new. Japan is so different from anything I know. Which is the reason why a book about Japan will never, EVER, be boring. What I did not like about this book was the "humor" of the author. I feel like she was trying to hard to be funny. She wasn't, in my opinion. I would have enjoyed it more if she did not try to be funny. I mean, be a foreign living in Japan and trying to figure it out between the language, their Hiragana/Katagana, etc, their beautiful and strange customs... that is funny enough; no reason to exaggerate or dramatize or whatever. Also, it is very short. The chapters have 3 pages at the most, but the size of the text is huge. The illustrations are nice.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Huxtable

    Pond takes a lighhearted look at her own faux pas and the struggle between her Maine sensibility and the sometimes inexplicable and complicated Japanese culture. Pond takes us grocery shopping, to her language lessons, and on the subways of Tokyo, always managing to find the humor as she fumbles words and customs.Many of these essays are magazine pieces, previously published in Japan. Standout essays for me include Pond's initial attempt at eating edamame, and the chewing chewing chewing of the o Pond takes a lighhearted look at her own faux pas and the struggle between her Maine sensibility and the sometimes inexplicable and complicated Japanese culture. Pond takes us grocery shopping, to her language lessons, and on the subways of Tokyo, always managing to find the humor as she fumbles words and customs.Many of these essays are magazine pieces, previously published in Japan. Standout essays for me include Pond's initial attempt at eating edamame, and the chewing chewing chewing of the outside pod. I also enjoyed her adventures at the police station, trying to report a lost wallet, and the alway entertaining grocery store adventures. Pond has a rare gift of being able to laugh at herself. Her family good naturedly help her out in her adventures. Readers with overseas experiences - especially in Asia or Japan - will enjoy this very funny collection.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Pond moved with her family to Tokyo and these are some of the very funny stories about mispronunciations, getting lost, trying new things and learning as you go. Why I started this book: Having made the move to Japan myself, I was looking for shared experiences, advice and good ideas. Why I finished it: I was laughing out loud at various points of the book. Pond shows that while "Tokyo is not for the timid" being a fish out of water can lead to some pretty nice surprises. And when they aren't nice Pond moved with her family to Tokyo and these are some of the very funny stories about mispronunciations, getting lost, trying new things and learning as you go. Why I started this book: Having made the move to Japan myself, I was looking for shared experiences, advice and good ideas. Why I finished it: I was laughing out loud at various points of the book. Pond shows that while "Tokyo is not for the timid" being a fish out of water can lead to some pretty nice surprises. And when they aren't nice? Well, you just have a great story to share with your friends.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David L. Carroll

    Just finished reading Getting Genki in Japan A lot of funny stuff in this book that I'd recommend that folks feeling out of place in Japan read to help them see the humorous side of things that they may be finding frustrating while living in Japan. Japan's a wonderful place to live if you just take the time to immerse yourself in the culture and venture outside your comfort zone. We loved our times in Japan (2 assignments at Yokota Air Base, Japan)! Just finished reading Getting Genki in Japan A lot of funny stuff in this book that I'd recommend that folks feeling out of place in Japan read to help them see the humorous side of things that they may be finding frustrating while living in Japan. Japan's a wonderful place to live if you just take the time to immerse yourself in the culture and venture outside your comfort zone. We loved our times in Japan (2 assignments at Yokota Air Base, Japan)!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elena

    Karen is the humourous mom we all would love to have...I started laughing from page 1 & I could see myself in some of those cultural shocks as I experienced them firsthand while living in Japan! Read my full review here https://theteenytinytoutfaire.blogspo... Karen is the humourous mom we all would love to have...I started laughing from page 1 & I could see myself in some of those cultural shocks as I experienced them firsthand while living in Japan! Read my full review here https://theteenytinytoutfaire.blogspo...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beatrice

    This was bordering on a three star book, but some of the anecdotes here ticked me off. I understand that this is a humor book (and I did find parts of it funny), but I was reading some of her stories in disbelief. Some research on the country goes a long way.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I read this book in one afternoon!! It is very funny and a great read!! I am a little biased, as my cousin Karen is the author, but it is still fantastic! She is a very good writer and the stories are all something I thing we can all relate to! A great book for a rainy afternoon!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maisarah

    A witty inside view of what it is like to live in metropolitan Tokyo for the first time. Tons of common Japanese conversation phrases also are included.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristine Risch

    Fantastic, hilarious and completely relatable. A must read for foreigners living in Japan!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    This book was written by a friend of mine from Tokyo. Clever, witty and really funny! it brought back so many memories of my time in Tokyo.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Airaology

    This is just jam packed with hilarity. A great quick read ! Sumamisen

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Quick and easy read. It was alright. I gave it 3 stars because it made me laugh a few times. Very piece-meal.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

  24. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mehak

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Choo

  27. 5 out of 5

    Penny

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bernie

  29. 5 out of 5

    yukoxoxo2000

  30. 5 out of 5

    Deirdre

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