Speed Tribes: Days and Nights with Japan's Next Generation

Karl Taro Greenfeld, Author HarperCollins Publishers $23 (286p) ISBN 978-0-06-017039-4
While working as a reporter for an English-language Tokyo newspaper in 1988, Greenfeld, born in Japan and raised in Los Angeles, was struck by the discrepancy between what he experienced of Japanese life and the business topics that comprised his assignments. Here he sets out to inventory the ``gritty, sexy, real Japan: the dazzling variety of new youth subcultures and rich pop cultures emerging as a result of the ``bubble economy prosperity.'' But these ``speed tribes,'' as Greenfeld calls them, who are ``more adept at folding a bundle of cocaine . . . than creasing an origami crane,'' come across as depressing and sordid, rather than ``dazzling'' or rich. We are introduced in vivid detail to the members of motorcycle gangs, producers and stars in the video porn business, drug dealers, the hostess ``industry,'' extreme right-wing groups, and students at a university exhausted by their own efforts to win places there and now cynical goldbrickers. This is not the Japan of 12-hour-a-day salarymen, exquisite aesthetes and craftspeople, successful industrialists, or high-savings wage slaves; rather, Greenfeld depicts the spawn of the world's richest country, as a Japanese version, perhaps, of American '60s culture. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1994
Release date: 09/01/1994
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-06-092665-6
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