December 19 , 2008

Kobe Blue

Danger in the Land of Safety


In the late 1980s, a booming and cheerful Japan offers an "alternative future" for thousands of foreigners seeking a Japanese Utopia. But as the Bubble bursts, they discover deeper – and more troubling – insights about themselves, their secretive lovers, and a nation built on the most dangerous ground in the world.
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From the Bubble Economy to the Kobe earthquake and beyond, Kobe Blue is more than a nostalgic look at the Golden Age of Japan. Based on real experiences, the novel explores the inner turmoil of cross-cultural relationships and the complex psyche of anyone living in consumerist societies and over-crowded cities where banality trumps tradition and morality.

The novel begins with an overworked Japanese woman, living in a rundown "Old World" part of Kobe, hoping a young foreigner will help her overcome the loss of men in her life. She teaches him about Japanese philosophy and erotic culture, while concealing horrors that could ruin his love affair with her and Japan. As she drifts away from him, for reasons he can't understand, he becomes entangled with colleagues on a romp through the classrooms, boardrooms and bedrooms of a metropolis spread across four cities. Then, on a cold winter night, the earth begins to shake, unleashing the worst destruction of a city in recent times.

"Lacking spaces of our own, we hide within the closets of our secrets. For all of Japan's reputation for safety and serenity, people live in fear of being exposed. What if they find out I've been faking it all along? What if they find out my real feeling?"

"There was no changing Aki's feeling. Her version of events was inscribed in kanji on a tombstone in her heart ... She was not impressed when I came home reeking of booze and cigarettes after nights out with the boys. She didn't view Japan as her playground, as we did. It wasn't Fantasy Land for her. It was a castle wall of cold stone reality surrounding her with serious family matters."
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