Understand It With Books

Into Japan: A Starter Kit for Understanding Japanese Society

by Tim Odagiri • September 2023

Into Japan

For those who grew up overseas, Japan’s long history and complex social structures can seem inscrutable. Some naysayers even claim that outsiders can never really understand Japan. But this island nation, its people, and its systems are knowable, and for those who have made Japan their permanent home, gaining cultural literacy is a vital first step to full participation in society. Into Japan helps prepare the way by examining what Japan is and how it works. Its high-level overview of Japan’s history and civic structures will help immigrants and tourists alike acquire the same background understanding of the nation that its citizens learned just by growing up here.

Part of the Understand in One Afternoon series, the book’s five short chapters can be consumed in just a few hours. In that brief time, you will learn about Japan’s history, its modern Constitution, its economy, and the key symbols and principles that residents need to know for effective civic engagement. Whether you arrived at Narita last week or have been a Tokyo denizen for decades, Into Japan will prepare you to be an informed, involved, and contributing member of one of the world’s most fascinating and revered nations.

Praise for Into Japan

"Tim’s book, Into Japan, is a must for those who are about to land on this soil, and a good guide for those who already live in Japan, immigrant or not, to deepen their understanding of the community where they live."

— Kaoru Ishikawa, Ambassador of Japan to Egypt (2007-2010) and Canada (2010-2013), Managing Director of the Canada-Japan Society

"Into Japan offers a clear and concise exploration of Japan's rich history and social structures. This engagingly written and well-researched guide is recommended reading for anyone in search of a solid primer on Japan."

— Brandon Whittaker, Specially Appointed Professor in the College of Law and Politics at Rikkyo University

"Into Japan is a must-read book for those who are trying to get a handle on the inner workings of Japan. The abbreviated history of Japan in the first chapter is worth the price of the whole book. If you are straight off the boat or have been here for ages, there is lots to learn."

— Jon Heese, Ibaraki Prefectural Councilor, Born in Canada, Japan's First Naturalized Citizen Elected to a Prefectural Legislature

Now Available!

Into Japan is now available for purchase in paperback and ebook formats.

Author Links

Contact Tim Odagiri by email at tim@timaki.com.


In some early copies of the book, page 73 includes a typo near the bottom of the page. The next-to-last sentence claims that the summer solstice occurs "around the twentieth of July" each year. It actually occurs "around the twentieth of June" each year.

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