Funny Business: An Outsider's Year in Japan

Gary J. Katzenstein, Author Soho Press $17.95 (228p) ISBN 978-0-939149-18-6
``Gary-san, if you want to get to understand us, you have to remember that we Japanese are all the same,'' a co-worker advised the author soon after the newly graduated American MBA-holder arrived in Tokyo on a grant to spend 12 months working for Sony. Katzenstein learned that in a culture where solitary travelers are considered strange (``normal people . . . travel in groups'') and conformity is prized above all else, a foreigner will always be gaijin , an outsider. He lamented midway through his sojourn: ``I was a craggy black rock in their smoothly raked white pebble garden.'' Though enterprising, ambitious, loaded with chutzpah and eager to view legendary Japanese management strategies in action, the rugged individualist failed to fit in, was fired from Sony after several difficult months, but remained in Japan for the rest of his allotted year pondering his experiences. While a dry prose style at times mars his account, readers will appreciate the author's candor and insights into a significant foreign power. Reader's Digest Condensed Books selection. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-56947-203-3
Paperback - 226 pages - 978-0-13-345232-7
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