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Reviewed by Lois Henderson for Readers' Favorite
Because Japan, billed as "a tell-all memoir of life in Tokyo", by Ash Watson relates the experiences of an English ex-pat living in Japan for a period of two years (2016 to 2018) during which he taught at a reputable private high school, as well as traveled throughout the country. He found it a time of great personal growth, which he experienced while learning about the country, its cultures, and traditions. Centered around his ‘Journal of Firsts’, being a record of the first time that he experienced situations that were new to him, the memoir is both lighthearted and informative regarding what a foreigner can expect to encounter in such a different and distinctive milieu. As the train system is ubiquitous throughout Japan and is the major form of transport used to get to and from work, many of the anecdotes tell of his perceptions of his fellow passengers and are so amusing that they are the Japanese transit system’s equivalent of Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, though of course very much techno-savvy.
Although unaccompanied by illustrations, the writing of Ash Watson’s Because Japan is so clear and evocative that the narrative is easy to follow and grasp, making it highly readable, especially for the young adult who is keen on going abroad and who might otherwise feel somewhat intimidated at first by the strange environment in which they find themselves. That Watson does not confine his adventures to those that he had in Tokyo alone is part of the fun. He made a number of friends while in Japan, with whom he traveled to other centers of interest, thus resulting in the tale being very much one of camaraderie and bonhomie. In short, the memoir should serve as a fun introduction to a foreign land for any young adult wondering whether they should take up employment opportunities abroad, as well as for the armchair traveler of any age.