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

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

Shogo Oketani, trans. from the Japanese by Avery Fischer Udagawa. Stone Bridge, $9.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-933330-92-1

Set in the Shinagawa Ward of southern Tokyo in the 1960s after the Olympics, Oketani's debut is as informational as it is emotional, with fictionalized yet intimate details drawn from the author's childhood. Nine-year-old Kazuo Nakamoto's life consists of attending school, visiting Yoshino's Tofu Shop, running with his friends (he fantasizes about being an athlete), and looking after his younger brother, Yasuo. Kazuo is expected to excel academically and attend graduate school to become an engineer, but he is not sure what he wants. Kazuo's musings on everything from his favorite American TV shows to his dislike of "miruku" (the powdered milk he is forced to drink at school) and enjoyment of the public bathhouse ("In the tubs, where everyone was naked, they were all equal") are compelling. Numerous b&w photos and sidebars augment the narrative and introduce Japanese words and historical notes. As these vignettes follow the changes, big and small, in one year of Kazuo's life, they touch on a wide range of social issues confronting old and new Tokyo. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. (July)