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From the only American journalist ever to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police press club: a unique, firsthand, revelatory look at Japanese culture from the underbelly up. At nineteen, Jake Adelstein went to Japan in search of peace and tranquility. What he got was a life of crime . . . crime reporting, that is, at the prestigious Yomiuri Shinbun. Fo From the only American journalist ever to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police press club: a unique, firsthand, revelatory look at Japanese culture from the underbelly up. At nineteen, Jake Adelstein went to Japan in search of peace and tranquility. What he got was a life of crime . . . crime reporting, that is, at the prestigious Yomiuri Shinbun. For twelve years of eighty-hour workweeks, he covered the seedy side of Japan, where extortion, murder, human trafficking, and corruption are as familiar as ramen noodles and sake. But when his final scoop brought him face to face with Japan’s most infamous yakuza boss—and the threat of death for him and his family—Adelstein decided to step down . . . momentarily. Then, he fought back. In Tokyo Vice, Adelstein tells the riveting, often humorous tale of his journey from an inexperienced cub reporter—who made rookie mistakes like getting into a martial-arts battle with a senior editor—to a daring, investigative journalist with a price on his head. With its vivid, visceral descriptions of crime in Japan and an exploration of the world of modern-day yakuza that even few Japanese ever see, Tokyo Vice is a fascination, and an education, from first to last.


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From the only American journalist ever to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police press club: a unique, firsthand, revelatory look at Japanese culture from the underbelly up. At nineteen, Jake Adelstein went to Japan in search of peace and tranquility. What he got was a life of crime . . . crime reporting, that is, at the prestigious Yomiuri Shinbun. Fo From the only American journalist ever to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police press club: a unique, firsthand, revelatory look at Japanese culture from the underbelly up. At nineteen, Jake Adelstein went to Japan in search of peace and tranquility. What he got was a life of crime . . . crime reporting, that is, at the prestigious Yomiuri Shinbun. For twelve years of eighty-hour workweeks, he covered the seedy side of Japan, where extortion, murder, human trafficking, and corruption are as familiar as ramen noodles and sake. But when his final scoop brought him face to face with Japan’s most infamous yakuza boss—and the threat of death for him and his family—Adelstein decided to step down . . . momentarily. Then, he fought back. In Tokyo Vice, Adelstein tells the riveting, often humorous tale of his journey from an inexperienced cub reporter—who made rookie mistakes like getting into a martial-arts battle with a senior editor—to a daring, investigative journalist with a price on his head. With its vivid, visceral descriptions of crime in Japan and an exploration of the world of modern-day yakuza that even few Japanese ever see, Tokyo Vice is a fascination, and an education, from first to last.

30 review for Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    Everything I ever learned that was important in my life I put in this book; it's almost the totality of what I have learned about Japan and right and wrong and the grey areas in between., Giving it four stars is probably a little like as they say in Japanese, 自画自賛 (jiga-jisan) "praising your own painting" which is terribly immodest and not Japanese like at all but there you are. It's not perfect but it's probably the best book I will ever write and I'm happy with that. I've gotten some really ni Everything I ever learned that was important in my life I put in this book; it's almost the totality of what I have learned about Japan and right and wrong and the grey areas in between., Giving it four stars is probably a little like as they say in Japanese, 自画自賛 (jiga-jisan) "praising your own painting" which is terribly immodest and not Japanese like at all but there you are. It's not perfect but it's probably the best book I will ever write and I'm happy with that. I've gotten some really nice letters from people who have read it and more than that, many have donated money to the Polaris Project, which does valuable work in combating modern-day slavery and providing assistance to victims both in the United States and Japan--and elsewhere. So I feel like I'm atoning a little every time someone reads this. And that"s not a bad feeling. It helps me sleep better at night. Originally I gave this book five stars but I'm deducting one for typos and to be more Japanese. I'll fix the typos before the paperback edition. Overall, this is the best I could do and if some feel it lacks self-disclosure, well, some things are better left unsaid. For the people involved and for myself as well. I'm hoping the paperback edition on October 5th, are my final edits.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”Either erase the story , or we’ll erase you. And maybe your family. But we’ll do them first, so you learn your lesson before you die.” Jake Adelstein went to Japan at the tender age of nineteen. One beautiful thing about being nineteen is it still feels like anything is possible. I remember those heady days well, when failure was a foreign word and those bumps in the road were not anything to get stressed about. On the inside cover of the book, it said that Adelstein had gone to Japan “in search ”Either erase the story , or we’ll erase you. And maybe your family. But we’ll do them first, so you learn your lesson before you die.” Jake Adelstein went to Japan at the tender age of nineteen. One beautiful thing about being nineteen is it still feels like anything is possible. I remember those heady days well, when failure was a foreign word and those bumps in the road were not anything to get stressed about. On the inside cover of the book, it said that Adelstein had gone to Japan “in search of peace and tranquility”. He could have stayed home and joined the Hermitage in Big Sur if that was what he really wanted. No, what Jake wanted was excitement and he got it in spades. ”It’s hard to think when you can’t breathe. It’s even harder to think when you can’t breathe because a yakuza bruiser has you pinned against the wall, with one hand around your neck and the other hand punching your ribs, and your feet are dangling off the floor.” One of those moments when you’d like to use compelling words to convince the thug to quit hitting you, but with all your major organs sloshing around your body as he uses you for a punching bag, it is hard to compose anything more eloquent than...a...grunt. So how did the young lad find himself in such precarious circumstances? He went to work as an investigative reporter in Tokyo. In fact, he was the only American journalist ever admitted to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police press club. I do believe his Japanese publisher relished his audaciousness in even thinking that achieving such a position was possible. So for eighty soul crushing, social life annihilating hours a week he investigated the Japanese underbelly and found more than just fleas and ticks. ”As far as entertainment districts went, in 1999 nothing beat Kabukicho for pure sleaze. Drugs, prostitution, sexual slavery, rip-off bars, dating clubs, massage parlors, S-and-M parlors, pornography shops and porn producers, high-dollar hostess clubs, low-dollar blow job salons, more than a hundred different yakuza factions, the Chinese mafia, gay prostitute bars, sex clubs, female junior high school students’ soiled uniforms/panties resale shops, and a population of workers more ethnically diverse than anywhere else in Japan. It was like a foreign country in the middle of Tokyo.” Did someone mention the Yakuza? The tattooed gangsters, if they live long enough, generally end up needing new livers from the Hepatitis-C they get from unsanitary needles. These guys donate fingers when they fuck something up. The guy that was punching Jake Adelstein because he was somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be was yakuza. In these sex slave clubs, the yakuza generally use foreign women to keep the police and the Japanese government from being overly interested in their activities. Foreign males are not allowed in these clubs because the foreign men tend to feel sorry for the girls and try to help them once they realize their circumstances. Adelstein, with the help of dark sunglasses and low lighting could pass for Japanese. He was able to get into one of those clubs, but when the girl he was interviewing broke down in tears, the gig was up. Punch, punch, punch, never come back here again. It doesn’t take long for Adelstein’s name to be known by the very people who, when they use the term ‘taking an interest,’ really mean that their interest will be short lived because you won’t be around to worry about much longer. He has a good friend, a smart woman, a teacher who is living in Tokyo. A person he can give books to who will actually read them and discuss them with him. He discovers how she pays for all the extra travel she does and the expensive clothes. I get paid a hundred dollars a minute. You know why? Because most Japanese guys last two minutes.” I laughed at that. “You’re right. In terms of pay by the minute, my job can’t touch yours. But doesn’t it depress you a little?” “Well, that’s when cocaine comes in handy. A little blow, and I’m ready to blow.” I didn’t laugh at that. I didn’t either because we do get to know this woman and to think of her resorting to prostitution for an upgraded lifestyle, not because she has to, but because she wants to be able to do more and own more, is somehow shameful when I think of all the foreign women who are caught in sex slavery without much hope of ever escaping the crippling debt they are forced to pay off with humiliating acts of degradation. Not only does Adelstein take on the yakuza...crazy enough...but he also takes on the Japanese government. He discovers very quickly that when you are taking on people with this much power that his ability to protect his sources means that he can’t tell anyone, not his bosses, and not even those he loves about what he is investigating and who is helping him. The secrecy, the anxiety, the real fear of being hurt, and exposing himself every day to the worst that society has to offer is obviously unsustainable. Then he gets the visit from a tattooed freak in a business suit who tells him to ”erase the story, or we’ll erase you.” It’s easy to cut and run, even honorable. After all, it is hard to justify putting the people you love in danger because you won’t let loose of a story, but then as I’ve established Adelstein didn’t come to Japan for peace and tranquility. You don’t win by bowing down to pressure. You win by pushing back. This book was a compelling atmospheric read with novelesque elements as he not only describes the scene, but also the scene around the scene. I had thoughts that he saw himself in terms of a noir movie as he brushed shoulders with evil men and tried to save not one damsel in distress, but literally hundreds who all needed a champion. Highly Recommended! To see all my recent movie and book reviews please visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com You can like my Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    Christ, what a douche.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robert Fenner

    Jake Adelstein is a talented and hard-working journalist who has written some enlightening and important articles about crime, Yakuza, enjou kosai and the darker side of Japan's sex industry. I recently was made aware of his memoir, Tokyo Vice, and out of respect for his work, thought I'd give it a go. Unfortunately, Tokyo Vice is not an important or enlightening book. Though it does contain some interesting bits and pieces about the Japanese metropolitan underworld, the majority of the book is t Jake Adelstein is a talented and hard-working journalist who has written some enlightening and important articles about crime, Yakuza, enjou kosai and the darker side of Japan's sex industry. I recently was made aware of his memoir, Tokyo Vice, and out of respect for his work, thought I'd give it a go. Unfortunately, Tokyo Vice is not an important or enlightening book. Though it does contain some interesting bits and pieces about the Japanese metropolitan underworld, the majority of the book is the arrogant and narcissistic ramblings of a doofus obsessed with his own phallus. READ! All about what sexual position Jake enjoyed with which hostess! GROAN! When he begins a chapter with dismounting his girlfriend! ROLL YOUR EYES! As a Yakuza moll tells Jake that he and crime boss Tadamasa Goto may not be so different after all! DISBELIEVE! Because Adelstein's braggart tendencies make him come across as an unreliable narrator. My favorite part was how one chapter ended with Jake lamenting how society purposefully ignores the humanity of female sex workers, seeing them as objects to be used and not caring when they are abused. Then the next chapter begins with him deciding to bribe a cop with a lap dance. Great job, buddy. Jake Adelstein is a talented journalist. He is also a total penis wrapped in a leather glove. He reviewed his own book on Goodreads and gave it four stars. He is a complete fartknocker.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tia

    Jake Adelstein's recounts his time on the biggest Japanese Newspaper, Yomiuri Shinbun. This book promises yakuza, coverups, prostitution and...vice. However, Adelstein breaks the cardinal rule: your subject is interesting, not your experiences of them. No one wants to read about a journalist's experience, they just want to read about the story. Unfortunately, we get a lot of anecdotes about his early days on the paper, vaguely interesting cases told without any setup or suspense, and updates abo Jake Adelstein's recounts his time on the biggest Japanese Newspaper, Yomiuri Shinbun. This book promises yakuza, coverups, prostitution and...vice. However, Adelstein breaks the cardinal rule: your subject is interesting, not your experiences of them. No one wants to read about a journalist's experience, they just want to read about the story. Unfortunately, we get a lot of anecdotes about his early days on the paper, vaguely interesting cases told without any setup or suspense, and updates about people he once knew. The one interesting thing that happened to him--namely, that he got on the wrong side of a Yakuza boss and was forced to publish or literally perish--was teased at the outset but not covered at all until the last 50 pages of the book. For someone who writes for a living, he seems to be sadly deficient in some of the basics. Or maybe, as a journalist, he never learned how to sustain interest over a whole book's length.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Barrett Dylan Brown, Phd

    Wow. Double Wow. Did I say, wow? Jake Adelstein is an amazing superhero and a total douchebag. This book made me realize how potently similar the profession of Intelligence Officer and Reporter are. The only real difference is that in Reporting you protect your sources and in espionage you burn them. Adelstein protects his sources while putting his family and friends at risk. He knows three forms of martial arts, speaks several languages, and happens to have a Japan fetish. Whether he really is C Wow. Double Wow. Did I say, wow? Jake Adelstein is an amazing superhero and a total douchebag. This book made me realize how potently similar the profession of Intelligence Officer and Reporter are. The only real difference is that in Reporting you protect your sources and in espionage you burn them. Adelstein protects his sources while putting his family and friends at risk. He knows three forms of martial arts, speaks several languages, and happens to have a Japan fetish. Whether he really is CIA or no, he tells a ripping and admirably honest story, which is as much Ethnography as it is Journalism. After two days with this book I come away infinitely more informed on Japanese culture and history than before. Besides a great story, Adelstein informs the reader on what could be a very difficult topic, clearly. Kudos Jake.

  7. 5 out of 5

    AK

    Very mixed feelings about this one. I never got over my distrust as Adelstein as a narrator, a judgment mainly rooted in my own time spent in Japan, and the incongruousness of the hardboiled, poorly constructed, and ego-centered writing alongside claims of serious and altruistically motivated journalism. I don't think those things (hard living and altruism) are inherently contradictory, but in this book the claims toward both mostly serve the cause of making Jake Adelstein seem like an awesome b Very mixed feelings about this one. I never got over my distrust as Adelstein as a narrator, a judgment mainly rooted in my own time spent in Japan, and the incongruousness of the hardboiled, poorly constructed, and ego-centered writing alongside claims of serious and altruistically motivated journalism. I don't think those things (hard living and altruism) are inherently contradictory, but in this book the claims toward both mostly serve the cause of making Jake Adelstein seem like an awesome bilingual pulp novel journo stud come to life. Which, fine, it's your memoir, buddy. I didn't stop reading though, because there is valuable information here. The yakuza are overly romanticized, and it's important to reveal them for who they are- racketeers and sex traffickers, exploiting the most vulnerable members of society, with a thin veneer of "honor and tradition" and some admittedly badass tattoos. Japan is also overly exoticized, and there are few books written about the country by people who can speak the language fluently and have a real grasp of what's going on. It is extremely easy to be a long-term expat in Japan without accomplishing either, which seriously stunts English-language journalism about Japan, and so Adelstein is a valuable resource. Most of this book actually deals with Adelstein's life at the Yomiuri Shimbun, and the relationship between the press and the police in Japan. He discusses two quite famous cases- the Dog Lover murders in Saitama prefecture, and the disappearance of Lucie Blackman- and the complex dance between reporters and cops to obtain and publicize (or not) leads in open cases. I found these sections to be quite interesting, and my eye-rolling was limited to the number of times poor riled up babes just begged Jake for sex and he is forced to oblige for one reason or another. Whatta mensch! He seems to have a much more positive view of the Japanese police than, say, Richard Lloyd Parry, author of a full-length book on Lucie Blackman. This is not too surprising, since the Yomiuri is one of the most conservative and nationalistic newspapers in Japan. (Something that I wish he went into a little bit more, honestly, because nationalism is something that both cops and yakuza can get behind, and it often serves to bring them together.) The last 50 or so pages deal with the liver transplants received by yakuza boss Tadamasa Goto and others at UCLA under shady circumstances, Adelstein's big scoop of 2008. This is an important story, and it is not well told here. For an experienced journalist, he seems extremely indignant that newspapers around the world aren't jumping to publish this story without verifiable proof. Adelstein seems to think his role as "white guy who knows yakuza and cops" should give him free reign to publish whatever he deems as good information, with the talismanic recitation of "I can't reveal my sources or else we'll all be dead" as back-up. Eventually, other journalists in the States due some heavy lifting, and the story is published. It's my intuition that the threat to his person and his family by Goto and his ilk is grossly overstated, simply because the murder of an American, let alone an American's family, would bring more unwanted international law enforcement attention to the yakuza than would be worth their effort. But this is Adelstein's big claim to fame, and he's sticking to it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dana Moison

    It's hard to define this book under one category: Does it have a substantiated plot or is it non-fiction? Autobiography or biographic? Documentary or fictional? It probably has a little bit of everything. This is a human document that allows us to get a glimpse of the Japanese society. I personally find the Japanese culture to be very intriguing, so when I heard there was a book describing the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, I knew I had to read it. The book begins rather slowly and mostly focuses o It's hard to define this book under one category: Does it have a substantiated plot or is it non-fiction? Autobiography or biographic? Documentary or fictional? It probably has a little bit of everything. This is a human document that allows us to get a glimpse of the Japanese society. I personally find the Japanese culture to be very intriguing, so when I heard there was a book describing the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, I knew I had to read it. The book begins rather slowly and mostly focuses on Adelstein's adjustment to the unwritten rules of working as a criminal reporter for the most popular newspaper in Japan. Along with his own personal story, Adelstein reveals a few surprising facts about the Japanese society – e.g., Japan's bestsellers lists point out that suicide is not only common in Japan but also considered popular and acceptable. The attitude towards sexuality in Japan may also surprise you. Trying to sell out this book as a thrust into the heart of Japanese Yakuza is wrong. The part about the Yakuza does have substance but only toward the end of the book. I think this book infiltrates the heart of entire Japan, and even if the writing isn't brilliant, those who have an interest in the Japanese culture would find this book as worth the read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    Full disclosure: I lived in Tokyo for seven years as a teacher and office worker and, for a year during that time, dated a proof-reader for an international news agency, so I have some insight into the culture and the job. That said, I was really surprised at how disappointing this book was. For a memoir about a reporter's career investigating yakuza, prostitution, drugs, corruption, sex-trafficking, and murder, it's really dull. I wanted to rate this book a little higher for just being mediocre, Full disclosure: I lived in Tokyo for seven years as a teacher and office worker and, for a year during that time, dated a proof-reader for an international news agency, so I have some insight into the culture and the job. That said, I was really surprised at how disappointing this book was. For a memoir about a reporter's career investigating yakuza, prostitution, drugs, corruption, sex-trafficking, and murder, it's really dull. I wanted to rate this book a little higher for just being mediocre, but considering Adelstein has been a reporter for so long, this book should be a lot better. There's little insight into Japanese culture, how the yakuza works, or what it's like working the police beat that you couldn't get with a cursory internet search. Adelstein includes a lot of unnecessary details, such as what people are wearing when he runs into them like this is a low-grade crime novel and important details left out completely or mentioned in passing (his relationship with a yakuza's mistress, for example). Frankly, Adelstein comes off like a lot of foreigners you could run into living overseas: he's barely competent at what he does, is pretty oblivious to anything outside of himself, and thinks he's the most interesting part of any story. Unfortunately, He's not an interesting enough person to be the center of a book and not skilled enough a writer to make the world around him interesting. In the end, I wasn't sure what this book was supposed to even be about between being a foreigner in Japan, a career reporter, and covering the crime beat when it touches on all of these but none of them ever come together or reach a satisfying conclusion. There's so much time spent in the front half on being a fledging reporter writing about pick-pockets that contributes nothing then suddenly becomes self-righteous attacking the government and mafia at the end when it's obvious he really didn't do much to contribute (or, did more to make the situation worse). Ultimately, it's a series of unrelated scenes that doesn't build to any true point and tries to wrap-up with a pseudo-philosophical statement on finding enlightenment after anecdotes about fingering prostitutes for information (literally). If you're looking for books on the Japanese crime world, you'd get more from the Yakuza wikipedia page. I'd recommend the book McMafia, which has a chapter breaking down the history of the Yakuza and where they're going as well as the Freakonomics documentary section on corruption in sumo and police investigations. Despite being short parts of a larger collection of stories, both provide a lot of insight into this bizarre yet fascinating world.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    After reading Tokyo Vice I had to take some time to digest it, to let the incongruities of laws and bureaucracy in Japan try to somehow make sense, to remind myself again and again that the world is an ugly, ugly place behind the neon lights and the advertisements and the glare of a TV screen. The impact that Tokyo Vice left upon me was as wide as an eclipse and as deep as a crater. If you are looking for characters to admire you'll only find a few between these covers, Jake being one of them. Do After reading Tokyo Vice I had to take some time to digest it, to let the incongruities of laws and bureaucracy in Japan try to somehow make sense, to remind myself again and again that the world is an ugly, ugly place behind the neon lights and the advertisements and the glare of a TV screen. The impact that Tokyo Vice left upon me was as wide as an eclipse and as deep as a crater. If you are looking for characters to admire you'll only find a few between these covers, Jake being one of them. Don't mistake this for an attempt to boast his ego though, Jake is painfully honest with the readers and with himself regarding his own faults. He doesn't make excuses for his actions, but presents them in a matter-of-fact way just as he would the facts of the crimes he reported. If he seems to lack emotion, it's because he has to. If you had seen a sliver of the things he has seen you might never want to open your eyes again. Still, there was no lack of emotion within me as I read the book. I found myself smiling, frowning, shaking my head in anger, pumping my fist in victory and near tears more than once. This spectrum of emotion was confusing for me. Should I be angry? Is there anything I can do? Why? Again and again I wondered "Why?"

  11. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    Jake Adelstein is some kind of guy. This story is as much about him as it is about the sex industry in Tokyo. I mean, really, what kind of guy would have the hutzpah to study Japanese and then apply to be a newspaper journalist at the most prestigious newspaper in Japan? He downplays but admits to crushing difficulties, at least difficulties that would crush most of us. But perhaps you've met his kind--bold, bright, talkative, confident, curious, unimpressed. I have. I just never thought we'd ge Jake Adelstein is some kind of guy. This story is as much about him as it is about the sex industry in Tokyo. I mean, really, what kind of guy would have the hutzpah to study Japanese and then apply to be a newspaper journalist at the most prestigious newspaper in Japan? He downplays but admits to crushing difficulties, at least difficulties that would crush most of us. But perhaps you've met his kind--bold, bright, talkative, confident, curious, unimpressed. I have. I just never thought we'd get to see inside the head of one as much as we do in this revealing memoir about his work for the newspaper, working closely with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department to uncover crimes in "vice." Not only do we learn how newspapers work in Japan, we learn a bit about how the police works, how the sex industry works, and finally, how the gangsters, or yakuza work. This is an Iron and Silk for grownups. Total immersion into an Asian culture and well-written enough to serve as an introduction to outsiders.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ekaizar

    I heard about this book from an interview and followed up by reading the prelude. Both of these led me to believe that this book would be a journey into the yakuza (Japanese Mafia) and how it related to journalism and the rest of life. I was disappointed. Only about 1/3 of the book actually related to the yakuza. The first few chapters hooked me in describing how the author actually managed to get into Japanese journalism when his Japanese writing skills were only marginal. But, it is clear that I heard about this book from an interview and followed up by reading the prelude. Both of these led me to believe that this book would be a journey into the yakuza (Japanese Mafia) and how it related to journalism and the rest of life. I was disappointed. Only about 1/3 of the book actually related to the yakuza. The first few chapters hooked me in describing how the author actually managed to get into Japanese journalism when his Japanese writing skills were only marginal. But, it is clear that he learned how to write a newspaper account, not a book. It is a meandering journey through the author's actions over his years in Japan without much of an idea of going somewhere in terms of character development or main ideas to get across. As we say in academic writing, just because you spent time doing it doesn't mean that you should put it into the final paper. This book would have benefited from a much heavier editing hand. It also skirts the line between stories of professional life and personal life, without actually delving into either. With so many side notes about his kids and wife, I was disappointed to finish the book without a mention as to whether his marriage survived or how his wife and kids are now. However much work it took, I did learn something of the yakuza and Japanese life and so I gave it 2 stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rohit Enghakat

    This book is the author's description of his experiences as a crime reporter in a Japanese daily Yomiuri Shinbun. There is no plot as such. The book is divided into different chapters of the author's various assignments covering the crime beat in Tokyo. the narrative is not too captivating and one may either like it or hate it. The most interesting tidbits were about the workings of the Japanese sex industry and the sleazy nightlife description. Although there was a lot about the yakuza but noth This book is the author's description of his experiences as a crime reporter in a Japanese daily Yomiuri Shinbun. There is no plot as such. The book is divided into different chapters of the author's various assignments covering the crime beat in Tokyo. the narrative is not too captivating and one may either like it or hate it. The most interesting tidbits were about the workings of the Japanese sex industry and the sleazy nightlife description. Although there was a lot about the yakuza but nothing descriptive. One gets a bit overwhelmed when you read about the human trafficking aspect and the forced induction of women into the sex trade. Otherwise this is a strictly ok read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    AC

    3.5 stars -- but a positive 3.5. This is an interesting book, and Jake's an intersting guy. He takes some flack for having dolled up his prose a little (fair enough), and he's definitely a self-absorbed kinda guy (as he's the first to admit). But there's some real honesty here -- about himself, as well as about others - a lot of insight into the lunacy that is contemporary Japan - and, in the final analysis, Jake's a guy with balls -- who took a lot of risks (including risking his life) to be, u 3.5 stars -- but a positive 3.5. This is an interesting book, and Jake's an intersting guy. He takes some flack for having dolled up his prose a little (fair enough), and he's definitely a self-absorbed kinda guy (as he's the first to admit). But there's some real honesty here -- about himself, as well as about others - a lot of insight into the lunacy that is contemporary Japan - and, in the final analysis, Jake's a guy with balls -- who took a lot of risks (including risking his life) to be, ultimately, on the side of the angels.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael Gerald

    Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it. Jake Adelstein, an American graduate of Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan wanted to become a journalist for one of Japan's biggest newspapers, the Yomiuri Shinbun. Turns out, getting in was the easy part. In this book, Adelstein tells his experiences working the police beat in Japan, lifting the veil on Japan's supposedly peaceful, orderly society. It is a society with a manual for almost anything, including suicide; where prostitution is suppos Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it. Jake Adelstein, an American graduate of Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan wanted to become a journalist for one of Japan's biggest newspapers, the Yomiuri Shinbun. Turns out, getting in was the easy part. In this book, Adelstein tells his experiences working the police beat in Japan, lifting the veil on Japan's supposedly peaceful, orderly society. It is a society with a manual for almost anything, including suicide; where prostitution is supposedly illegal, but one can find shops that offer blowjobs and handjobs (and sex on the sly, of course.) And of course, the Yakuza. Adelstein narrates in fascinating prose the complicated love-hate relationship that Japanese society has with the Yakuza, an organization with many "families" and is embedded in many facets of Japanese life: politics, business, even the media; but also a sinister group that exploits people and rakes in lots of money from human suffering. One thing I also learned is that the news media race against each other for scoops (nothing new there), and that the news industry, especially the crime beat, is like the intel business: You protect your sources. Funny, sometimes boastful, sometimes self-deprecating, always ballsy, Tokyo Vice is not your usual read. But then again, an American writer for a Japanese newspaper is not so usual, either.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Our Abiko

    Our Man tidied up an old blog post of a review. It was written under the influence of 7-Eleven red, but still holds, er, water: a) If you read Tokyo Vice and don't immediately want to down a bottle of Jack Daniels and run off to journo school to do battle with the forces of evil, please, please, please unfriend Our Man on Facebook, unfollow Our Man on Twitter and un-, er, just go, because Our Man has no time for you. b) Tell you what. You want the narrative voice of Holden Caulfield, with the wit Our Man tidied up an old blog post of a review. It was written under the influence of 7-Eleven red, but still holds, er, water: a) If you read Tokyo Vice and don't immediately want to down a bottle of Jack Daniels and run off to journo school to do battle with the forces of evil, please, please, please unfriend Our Man on Facebook, unfollow Our Man on Twitter and un-, er, just go, because Our Man has no time for you. b) Tell you what. You want the narrative voice of Holden Caulfield, with the wit of Huckleberry Finn (if Huck Finn were a Jewish geek with a Japan fixation and Jim were his ex-Yakuza bodyguard) then this is the yarn for you. Oh and it was kinda Catch 22 too, but don't ask Our Man to explain that right now he's feeling a little worse for wear and tear. c) By the way, whole chunks of it are true, in fact, probably all of it, give or take. d) What you'll never say after reading it: "Japan is so much safer than the West." e) Journos are no better or worse than the civvies they write about, but when they can write, they really write.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Warriner

    Journalist Jake Adelstein's Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan is a remarkable achievement on a number of fronts. Here you've got a guy who comes to Tokyo to study at Sophia University (in the early 90s), lands a job reporting in Japanese for the Yomiuri Shinbun, works round the clock to make connections and eke out information at police branches and on various strata of the underworld, and gets the stories out there in the face of media red tape and threats of reprisal Journalist Jake Adelstein's Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan is a remarkable achievement on a number of fronts. Here you've got a guy who comes to Tokyo to study at Sophia University (in the early 90s), lands a job reporting in Japanese for the Yomiuri Shinbun, works round the clock to make connections and eke out information at police branches and on various strata of the underworld, and gets the stories out there in the face of media red tape and threats of reprisal to himself, family and friends. Having lived in Tokyo for about as many years as Adelstein, I remember quite a few of the cases he covered. His book filled in plenty of blanks, and as disturbing as some of his experiences and possible lapses of judgement were, I have a lot of respect for what he's been able to accomplish. Surprised I haven't run into him over the years in one of Tokyo's seedier warrens, and I look forward to reading more of his work.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    Jake Adelstein, like his book, is unconventional, entertaining, intelligent and flawed. A Jewish American who acquired Japanese language skills sufficient to be recruited as the first foreigner ever to work for Japan’s top selling newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun (not to be confused with its English offshoot, the Daily Yomiuri), "Tokyo Vice" is the tale of Adelstein's unique experiences, including his near fatal run-in with one of Japan’s major crime bosses and his admirable exposure of an importa Jake Adelstein, like his book, is unconventional, entertaining, intelligent and flawed. A Jewish American who acquired Japanese language skills sufficient to be recruited as the first foreigner ever to work for Japan’s top selling newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun (not to be confused with its English offshoot, the Daily Yomiuri), "Tokyo Vice" is the tale of Adelstein's unique experiences, including his near fatal run-in with one of Japan’s major crime bosses and his admirable exposure of an important scandal. This true story starts off with a frightening encounter with a member of the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza, who threatens Adelstein’s life. From this dramatic opening we return to Adelstein’s early years on the Yomiuri crime beat, which while interesting for the sheer novelty of its gaijin take on the world of Japanese newspaper reporting and routine police work, lacks the drama of the second half of the book. For it is from around the half-way point that this until then merely adequate book takes off, as Adelstein stumbles across information suggesting that a Yakuza kingpin was granted a US visa by the FBI so that he could buy his way to the top of the liver transplant queue at UCLA hospital. Is this book written or structured to the very highest standards? Perhaps not. Would we all have made the same judgements as Adelstein? Unlikely, since most of us are both less obsessive and less brave than he. But this is a fascinating story that disabuses those like me who previously saw the Yakuza as a joke mafia, and also touches on the deeper scandal of the tolerance and even support they receive from parts of the Japanese establishment. An important, informative and at times thrilling book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Tokyo Vice was not what I expected. I learned about Tokyo Vice from NPR's Planet Money and listened to the interview with Jake Adelstein about the economics of Yakuza crime in Japan. I was expecting something more like "Tokyo Underground" but with a more economics spin. What I got was a very interesting True Crime book about the seedier side of Tokyo and its outer suburbs. Although the book didn't give me what I initially expected, it did dish up huge heaping servings of wonderful True Crime Noir. Tokyo Vice was not what I expected. I learned about Tokyo Vice from NPR's Planet Money and listened to the interview with Jake Adelstein about the economics of Yakuza crime in Japan. I was expecting something more like "Tokyo Underground" but with a more economics spin. What I got was a very interesting True Crime book about the seedier side of Tokyo and its outer suburbs. Although the book didn't give me what I initially expected, it did dish up huge heaping servings of wonderful True Crime Noir. Jake Adelstein has really lived the life out there on the streets and he's not afraid to tell the stories exactly as they were. Some of the stories end with the bad guy getting it in the end and sometimes the bad guys win. His best work is his portrayal of the cops on the beat and how hard these Detective guys work in a culture so obsessed with saving face that they have to step around insane restrictions to get anything done. He describes hookers, drug dealers, club owners, sex traffickers, the issues of being gaijin in the Japanese underground, and all sorts of yakuza and insane sleaze. The best story may be the one about the serial rapist who took girls to his condo on the ocean and drugged them. If you're interested in Noir and crime stories, I can highly recommend this book. The writing is crisp and clear. The book moves along briskly without ever getting bogged down. Jake's fight for the rights of women trapped in Japanese human trafficking and sex slave schemes is an amazing bit of reporting. I read this version on the Kindle.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Buckle

    Japan today is a lot different from what the author portrays it as. The areas of Roppongi and Kabukicho have been cleaned up under Ishihara years ago, no longer filled with seediness and sleeze, although you can still find it if you look hard enough. It is much like the transition New York City went through. It's difficult to understand the transformation of Tokyo when reading this book as I don't think Adelstein points to it enough. He should have, because it lends even more authenticity to his Japan today is a lot different from what the author portrays it as. The areas of Roppongi and Kabukicho have been cleaned up under Ishihara years ago, no longer filled with seediness and sleeze, although you can still find it if you look hard enough. It is much like the transition New York City went through. It's difficult to understand the transformation of Tokyo when reading this book as I don't think Adelstein points to it enough. He should have, because it lends even more authenticity to his reporting and would serve as a great contrast, because the stories he tells, especially when on the vice beat are amazing. Adelstein is an interesting guy and he knows it. I could do without some of his bravado, because his feat of breaking through Japanese norm is impressive enough - I don't need to know that your long fingers help you with certain sexual acts, it's irrelevant. Tokyo has the most interesting history, with its meaning and identity - both physical and mental - changing every decade. This book is an easy and eye-opening read about one of its seedier identities.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I saw this guy interviewed on The Daily Show and thought it was one of the worst interviews I'd seen in a long time. But, the book looked very interesting. I received it as a Christmas present and blasted through it in three days. I thought the book would be more about the yakuza, but it was more about the the way Japanese society is organized and his relationships with the yakuza, the cops and fellow reporters. The yakuza are real and very tattooed and much bigger than the Mafia in America. The I saw this guy interviewed on The Daily Show and thought it was one of the worst interviews I'd seen in a long time. But, the book looked very interesting. I received it as a Christmas present and blasted through it in three days. I thought the book would be more about the yakuza, but it was more about the the way Japanese society is organized and his relationships with the yakuza, the cops and fellow reporters. The yakuza are real and very tattooed and much bigger than the Mafia in America. The reporter has to work incredible hours romancing cops at their houses, endlessly looking for clues and information. The newspaper decline that is pervading the USA has not hit Japan and the reporting is all about scoops and deadlines, like the movie Front Page. I am a big fan of true crime books and this delivered the never ending battle between vice and rectitude in a fast paced format.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    This is a great story, and very unique. It is an insider's view on what it what like to be a foreign reporter in Japan. It is about writing, life in Japan, and the seedy underbelly of a beautiful country. I found it to be very informative, as well as well written. This novel gave me a glimpse into a life completely different than my own, and it was fascinating. This is a great story, and very unique. It is an insider's view on what it what like to be a foreign reporter in Japan. It is about writing, life in Japan, and the seedy underbelly of a beautiful country. I found it to be very informative, as well as well written. This novel gave me a glimpse into a life completely different than my own, and it was fascinating.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dave Hill

    As an occasional journalist, I really liked this book. As a Japanophile, I loved it. And as a guy who is basically a slave to the underworld and also sometimes likes reading about bath houses and stuff, I couldn't put it down. As an occasional journalist, I really liked this book. As a Japanophile, I loved it. And as a guy who is basically a slave to the underworld and also sometimes likes reading about bath houses and stuff, I couldn't put it down.

  24. 4 out of 5

    R K

    Japan has always been a country that operated a bit separately from the rest of the world. Not a surprise given the country's isolation from the rest of the world for a good chunk of time. So, it's only natural that one would be drawn to learning as much as they can about it. This is what the author Jake Adelstein did during the 90s and 2000s. having completed his degree in Tokyo, he went on to work on the police beat for one of the most prominent newspaper industry. This book is half memoir of Japan has always been a country that operated a bit separately from the rest of the world. Not a surprise given the country's isolation from the rest of the world for a good chunk of time. So, it's only natural that one would be drawn to learning as much as they can about it. This is what the author Jake Adelstein did during the 90s and 2000s. having completed his degree in Tokyo, he went on to work on the police beat for one of the most prominent newspaper industry. This book is half memoir of that time period in his life as it is an inside look on the culture and work enviroment of Japan. It is also an in depth and personal look into the problems that exist in Japan. Now, this book is based off of the late 90s to 2000 so I understand that some things might be outdated and/or have changed for the better. So, my review will be based off of what I have learned along with the implication that my reflections are based on the awareness that societal changes might have occurred. Just keep that in mind. Review Continued Here

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stacia

    A hard-hitting & fascinating book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emi Bevacqua

    Fascinating look at how the yakuza subculture coexists with Japanese police and mass media. Jake Adelstein left Missouri at 19 to study abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo, and upon graduating became the first gaijin (non-Japanese) hired on as a career journalist at the highly esteemed Yomiuri Shinbun. Tokyo Vice spans his newspaper career covering Organized Crime and Vice Crime in and around Tokyo from 1993 to 2005 (plus a couple years post-Yomiuri). Thrilling, suspenseful, filthy, tragic, tru Fascinating look at how the yakuza subculture coexists with Japanese police and mass media. Jake Adelstein left Missouri at 19 to study abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo, and upon graduating became the first gaijin (non-Japanese) hired on as a career journalist at the highly esteemed Yomiuri Shinbun. Tokyo Vice spans his newspaper career covering Organized Crime and Vice Crime in and around Tokyo from 1993 to 2005 (plus a couple years post-Yomiuri). Thrilling, suspenseful, filthy, tragic, true life reporter drama! I did my year at Sophia 5 years prior to Adelstein's arrival, and conceivably it might be possible we'd both been at the Foreign Correspondents' Club at the same time in the mid-90s... but what a case of "same city, different worlds". My own Tokyo experience was so G rated, in light of Adelstein's perspective.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tamsien West (Babbling Books)

    Tokyo Vice is one of those books that sticks with you. Even years after first picking it up in the university book shop when I was going through a 'new new journalism' phase, I still think about this book from time to time. This is probably heightened as I follow the author on twitter (he remains a reporter in Tokyo to this day), and have travelled to Japan 4 or 5 times since reading it for the first time. In any case, Adelsten's book is a rare window into the Japanese police force, news media, Tokyo Vice is one of those books that sticks with you. Even years after first picking it up in the university book shop when I was going through a 'new new journalism' phase, I still think about this book from time to time. This is probably heightened as I follow the author on twitter (he remains a reporter in Tokyo to this day), and have travelled to Japan 4 or 5 times since reading it for the first time. In any case, Adelsten's book is a rare window into the Japanese police force, news media, and underworld, all rarely discussed in the Western world, and equally 'overlooked' in Japanese media. It really draws out the dark undercurrents of a culture steeped in notions of privilege and 'saving face'.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Philip Girvan

    An entertaining romp through underworld Tokyo, but there's far too much focus on the author's marital difficulties, his sexual conquests, and his struggles as a gajin reporter navigating Japanese protocol and culture. The book does have some good stories, a lot of black humor, and a bracing examination of contemporary Japan's darker aspects. There were a couple of interesting tidbits re the relationship between organized crime and Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) such as the Koizumi family' An entertaining romp through underworld Tokyo, but there's far too much focus on the author's marital difficulties, his sexual conquests, and his struggles as a gajin reporter navigating Japanese protocol and culture. The book does have some good stories, a lot of black humor, and a bracing examination of contemporary Japan's darker aspects. There were a couple of interesting tidbits re the relationship between organized crime and Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) such as the Koizumi family's yakuza ties but the book is more memoir than investigative journalism. Useful reading for anyone interested in Japan particularly its seamier side.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael Pronko

    A great reporter who has gotten far below the surface of Japanese life. This is a great read and shouldn't be missed. Some readers might be put off a bit by the self-focus, but Adelstein is a rare foreigner to have dug into the depths of crime, society and the real connections that keep things running, though not to everyone's advantage. As a reporter in two languages, his writing is sharp, clear and to the point. A genuine insight into Japan. A great reporter who has gotten far below the surface of Japanese life. This is a great read and shouldn't be missed. Some readers might be put off a bit by the self-focus, but Adelstein is a rare foreigner to have dug into the depths of crime, society and the real connections that keep things running, though not to everyone's advantage. As a reporter in two languages, his writing is sharp, clear and to the point. A genuine insight into Japan.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Issy

    This is a hell of a book. It starts off scintillating, continues to educate and outrage and ends both victorious and tragic. I have to admit that maybe I'd romanticized Japanese culture in my mind. This book certainly aquatinted me with the dark side, particularly of the Tokyo sex trade and human trafficking. This is a hell of a book. It starts off scintillating, continues to educate and outrage and ends both victorious and tragic. I have to admit that maybe I'd romanticized Japanese culture in my mind. This book certainly aquatinted me with the dark side, particularly of the Tokyo sex trade and human trafficking.

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