J-Boys: Kazuo's World, Tokyo, 1965

In compliance with FTC guidelines, I disclose that I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads

That's RIGHT! I won my first Giveaway through Goodreads! It was a book I totally wanted to read too the second I saw it.

The Book: J-Boys: Kazuo's World, Tokyo, 1965
The Author: Shogo Oketani ( so fun to say!) Translated from the Japanese by Avery Fisher Udagawa.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Stone Bridge Press

The book starts out telling us about Kazuo, a young boy who dreams of running as fast as Bob Hayes. His family lives in the Nihon Optics company housing, and although Kazuo feels fortunate enough to live there, his brother, Yasuo, wants to move so he can have a yard for a dog. Kazuo lives a humble life in Tokyo, but throughout his story ( a year in his life, during the start of quite a change in Tokyo) he idealizes the classic middle-class American dream, post WWII. He has a few good friends, whom he seems to learn from, just as much as plays with them. This books is all about Japanese culture and what it would have been like to be a kid in Tokyo in 1965, playing pachinko, being forced to drink miruku at school, warming up via kotatsu during the winter while mother begs one to study, and dreaming of eating a hanbaagaa.

I absolutely loved this book. It had so many historical post-war elements, like how the middle school kids were to drink their Miruku before recess, as this very hard to digest powdered milk was seen as healthy for them. And also, how the 'grown-ups' around them were affected by the war. The book posed a great description of the 1960's and what it was like to grow up during this time.
The book also had definitions to some traditional Japanese words in the margins of the page, And although I personally knew most of them, they were helpful with some words I didn't already know.

It was neat for me to read this book as I've dreamed of going to Tokyo my whole life.
The only thing that bothered me about Kazuo is that he strives to become more Westernized. Japan has such a rich culture, and one of the most healthy diets on the planet and I'd hate to think anyone in Japan would WANT to be like the average, overweight, white picket fenced, hamburger eating, middle class American. Nevertheless, this was a common dream for Japanese kids post WWII as they often watched American TV shows such as Tom and Jerry, Popeye, and The Three Stooges during that time.
The pictures in this book are really great! Just added that extra little bit of meaning for me. Kazuo and Yasuo truly touched my heart as I got to know what there life was like.I felt like Kazuo was my own brother.

My favourite chapter, naturally, was Bathing and The Beatles, as Kazuo, his brother, and friends were discovering one of the greatest bands of all time, again another post war influence on Japanese culture.
I think I am going to give this book to my little brother. He is 11 and I am curious to see what he thinks of it, or if he learns anything from Mr.Yoshino or any of the other characters in this book :)

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