A Tokyo Romance

Ian Buruma

RRP: £16.99

5 April 2018

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781782397991

RRP: £11.99

5 April 2018

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781782398011

When Ian Buruma arrived in Tokyo as a young film student in 1975, he found a feverish and surreal metropolis in the midst of an economic boom, where everything seemed new and history only remained in fragments.

Through his adventures in the world of avant-garde theatre, his encounters with carnival acts, fashion photographers and moments on-set with Akira Kurosawa, Buruma came of age. For an outsider, unattached to the cultural burdens placed on the Japanese, this was a place to be truly free.

A Tokyo Romance is a portrait of a young artist and the fantastical city that shaped him, and a timeless story about the desire to transgress boundaries: cultural, artistic and sexual.


A triumphal narrative... a winning mix of nostalgic bravado and judicious self-deprecation....luscious and precise...In a time when the country's public image abroad consisted largely of manufacturing and geisha girls he located an avant-garde culture and entered it fully, unafraid of drunken excess then and unafraid of recalling it now.Andrew Solomon
New York Times Book Review

Buruma is a keen observer and the owner of a well-provisioned mind. There are smart little junkets in this book into everything from Japanese movies (Buruma became a film critic for The Japan Times) to the country's tattooing culture to its female elevator operators, about whom he made a documentary film. His prose is unflaggingly good.
New York Times

Gracefully written and engaging
Sunday Times

There are only a few scholars, journalists, critics and commentators writing about Japan in English worth reading, and Buruma is one.
Literary Review

A vivid account of what it is like to create your truest self by moving away from all that is familiar to embrace a foreign culture and country.
Financial Times

Oh my eyes... the whole thing sparks astonishingly to life. We'll come back to the details, lurid or otherwise, but for now all you need to know is that Buruma's high-level immersion in the country's culture begins with him tottering around on takageta, a high-heeled version of the traditional Japanese wooden sandals, and ends with him playing a character called the Midnight Cowboy in a play by the underground director and actor Kara Juro.Rachel Cooke

Buruma paints a vivid portrait of his often mind-boggling encounters with the motley collection of artists, expats and eccentrics he befriended over his six years in Tokyo. And his honesty is disarming.

New York Review of Books editor Buruma reflects on his immersion in the artistic underworlds of late 1970s Tokyo in this lucid, engrossing memoir...Buruma makes the archetypal quest for home in a foreign land both uniquely personal and deeply illuminating.
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

Illuminating... With the insight and curiosity of someone on the outside looking in, Buruma describes a transformational moment in the making of modern Japanese culture.

Delicious... A wild ride through the late-20th-century Japanese avant-garde scene through the eyes of an innocent from across the sea.
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)