Jul 13, 2015

Leaning to Bow by Bruce Feiler



LEARNING TO BOW Inside the Heart of Japan
Bruce Feiler
Publication:  May 11, 2004 by William Morrow Paperbacks (originally published in 1991)




Learning to Bow has been heralded as one of the funniest, liveliest, and most insightful books ever written about the clash of cultures between America and Japan. With warmth and candor, Bruce Feiler recounts the year he spent as a teacher in a small rural town. Beginning with a ritual outdoor bath and culminating in an all-night trek to the top of Mt. Fuji, Feiler teaches his students about American culture, while they teach him everything from how to properly address an envelope to how to date a Japanese girl.

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I've read on many of the JET (Japan Exchange Teaching) blogs out there that this is an important book to read if you want an insight into the world of teaching English in Japan. I've also read that this book is horribly dated (published in 1991) and you shouldn't waste your time with it.

I am really glad that I didn't listen to all the naysayers. While it's true this book is dated, it has humorous stories from the little things that happened to Burusu-san, stories of cultural clashes, but most importantly it does give the reader an insight into Japan.

Printed on the page just inside the cover is the reviews from various newspapers and other book reviewers. "This book should be required reading - Japan Times" definitely stands out. I agree with the sentiment. Anyone looking into the JET Program or who has recently been accepted to the Program should be required to read this book.

Now how did I come across this book? I fall in the former categorey, just a young university girl getting too close to graduation without a plan. Going to Japan to teach English definitely seems like a viable option and this book was all part of my research.

I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would though. If you are looking into JET, I would highly recommend this book!


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