mukikamu

The Armchair Traveler Club

Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

P. J. O’ROUKE: PEACE KILLS

Posted by mukikamu on January 30, 2009

I never expected P. J. O’Rouke’s book to be a travel book, but it turned out to be a worth-to-mention experience. I say this for several reasons. Firstly, the book is about his travel experiences to war-torn regions of the world and he manages to stay personal rather than menacingly political. The places he visits come to life much better than in anything I read about these countries lately (not that I have read anything much apart from the daily news) and it’s always rewarding to have an insiders’ view. I particularly enjoyed his chapters about Egypt and Kuwait because I could connect to the local daily life. Although O’Rouke is stubbornly seeing silliness in almost all kind of human action and sneers with maximum vehemence, his book is quite enjoyable. Then again he is famous of his comic style, that makes you laugh despite all your judgement of his message. He is the guy who you can never argue with because he makes you admit how ridiculous you are after your first statement. I find his sarcastic approach an easy way of getting away with things, nevertheless I admit that sometimes lightness of approach is a good way to get to an audience and deal with heavy issues. As they would say in popular magazines: “ A thumbs-up!”

Locations: Israel, Kuwait, Egypt, Washington, Iraq, Iwo Jima, Kosovo

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Posted in AFRICA, Egypt, Japan, U.S. | 2 Comments »

THOMAS RAUCAT: THE HONOURABLE PICNIC

Posted by mukikamu on March 17, 2008

Japan. Again. I guess I am hooked. The honourable picnic is a LOL funny novel and a perfect way to get an insight into Japanese thinking and way of life. Even if it’s sarcastic and scandalous. I know I am over-enthusiastic but you can’t miss this if you are interested in Japan. I laughed myself insane because of the depicted worries caused by a little boy’s hat. The characters are so incredibly funny that you forget it’s insulting. Roger Poidatz truly caused a stir at the time when his book was written (1924). He had to publish under a false name (Thomas Raucat). However, cross-cultural experiences must be handled with humour and this book is just a treat.

READ IT ONLINE IN HUNGARIAN >>

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PS.: All editions of Terebess Publishing is appealing. They have delicious travel literature, but only in Hungarian. Anybody who knows travel specialised publishing houses world-wide, leave a comment!

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Posted in ASIA, Books, Japan | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

ARTHUR KOESTLER: JAPAN

Posted by mukikamu on March 2, 2008

I know there are some harsh, intolerant and definitely not politically correct observations about the Japanese in the second volume of The Lotus and the Robot, but I still liked it . Sometimes reading an honest, no-fuss book is a breather for the mind. I felt it summed up Japan in the eyes of a confident European intellectual quite well and I was relieved to get rid of all pathos. The Japanese amaze me constantly. I see them as a nation where you never know whether certain traditions will amuse or stun and embarrass you. I am mostly amused but as I am aware that the outcome of cross-cultural encounters with the Japanese is unpredictable, I understand that they can be truly maddening for a European who lives among them. They have no street signs and arts like ikebana and gardening are too much for a rational and practical mind. Irony, humor and a taste for the grotesque is therefore essential for survival. Koestler has interesting points about Japanese history, society and politics, but fails to enlighten the philosophy of zen without a mocking.
I must note that Arthur Koestler is not a simple fellow. His life and books hint a slightly deranged mind and make him an exciting author.

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You can read it online in HUNGARIAN here>>

Posted in ASIA, Books, HUNGARIAN TRAVELERS, Japan | Leave a Comment »

UPDATE

Posted by mukikamu on October 30, 2007

The reason behind the slow update of the blog is that I have been reading some not-travel-related novels as well as less eligible Hungarian travel books. I thought the latter were less interesting for most of my fellow AIRMCHAIR TRAVELER CLUB members, however, I was wrong. I stumbled upon some rare jewels and it would be a shame not to give a short appetizer and an update of what I’ve been up to.

  • Jappán is a LOL funny depiction of a trip a popular Hungarian comedian (Sándor Badár) and his karate freak buddy had made to Japan in the 80’s. They traveled through the U.S.S.R. and encountered many hilarious adventures while trying to find their way without money and any of the necessary languages skills. The book is basically a simple scripted conversation where the heroes of the stories revive memories. Nothing fancy or organized, no useful tips, just heart-warming storytelling. I rarely write this, but you just can’t put it down. Very readable, highly enjoyable. Lovely. 

  • Tamás Régi is a Hungarian anthropology student in love with Africa. His book about his travels (Among the nomad tribes of East Africa) was a revelation because he managed to reestablish my trust towards modern travel writers. I found his volume very interesting and honest. I pray that he would get enough funding for another publication. 

  • Salmon fishing in the Yemen of Paul Torday is completely non-fiction and offers light entertainment. Quarter of it is set in the Yemen, but I haven’t checked on the locations. 

  • Ian McEwan’s Atonement was a beach read for Crete and didn’t deceive. An epic love story with thought-provoking ending. I must admit it was a pre-study for the film version that still hasn’t come out here.  

 I also have a real treat coming up soon, so watch these spaces!

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Posted in AFRICA, ASIA, England, EUROPE, France, HUNGARIAN TRAVELERS, Japan, Kenya, Russia, Yemen | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »