Speed Tribes: Days and Nights With Japan's Next Generation
by Karl Taro Greenfield
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Format: Trade Paperback
8vo-over 7¾"-9¾" tall. Near-new condition. Appears unread. NO remainder marks or clippings. Tight spine, bright pages. 287 pages. NO writing, marks or tears inside book. This foray into the often violent subcultures of Japan dramatically debunks the Western perception of a seemingly controlled and orderly society. From Library Journal Greenfeld, the half-Japanese, half-Caucasian American Tokyo correspondent for The Nation, has written about a little-known, seamy subculture in Japan that became more prominent with the collapse of the "bubble" economy of the 1980s. In 12 compelling chapters, Greenfeld covers the grimier aspects of Tokyo's urban society: organized crime, the nightclub scene, motorcycle gangs (the eponymous bosozoku), computer hackers, ultra-right-wing nationalists, and the porn industry. His focus on individuals brings a sense of immediacy as his high-speed narrative highlights the flaws in Japan's society without bashing it. Steven Wardell's forthcoming Rising Sons and Daughters: Life Among Japan's New Young (Plympton Pr. International) focuses on teens in Kyushu and presents a more positive picture of their lives. These two books show Japan as a complex society much more like ours than people may have realized. The absence of an index makes this more suitable for most public libraries. Katharine L. Kan, Aiea P.L., Hawaii Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Booklist Americans duped into believing that Japan has few social problems outside of political corruption, horrendous university entrance exams, and the suppression of women into lifelong menial jobs and unsatisfying lives as caretakers for their husbands will be shocked by some of Greenfeld's revelations: widespread methamphetamine use among youth, a booming pornographic industry (as a result of Japan's foray into sexual freedom), and a skyrocketing juvenile larceny rate. Organized crime is a problem also; the Yakuza is being replenished with disillusioned youth from the country's youth gangs, and its proliferation on the Japanese mainland and its rapid expansion overseas are frightening. The "speed tribes, " or Bosozoku, is a catch-all term that refers to the plethora of diverse youth subcultures that have spawned as a result of Japan's famous "bubble economy." Japan's obsession with things Western intensified during the boom in the 1980s (now predicted to crash sometime in the 1990s) and is proving disastrous to its social fabric. A day in the life of a computer hacker, the "hostess" industry (with few remnants of the geisha tradition that preceded it), and a motley crew of unconventional Japanese youth as they go about their unconventional and sometimes reckless lives are some of Greenfeld's other subjects. Fascinating reading, will make many Americans rethink stereotypes they may have about the Japanese.