Title: For Fukui’s Sake
Author: Sam Baldwin
Genre: Non-Fiction, Travel, Memoir
First Published: September 2011
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The book is a memoir of author Sam Baldwin’s experiences of the JET (Japanese Exchange and Teaching) Programme for the two years he taught abroad. Upon opening his acceptance letter, he sees the word ‘Fukui’ and assumes he is being rudely rejected – hence the book title. In fact, he is sent to the rural Japanese town of Fukui, where he makes friends, goes on adventures and must adjust to Japanese customs (often with hilarious results).
Having been gifted this back in Christmas 2015 by The Geek Undergraduate, I had been told to wait until my flight to Japan until I was allowed to read it. Though it took the flight and then a good month afterwards to actually finish it, I’m glad I got to experience the Japanese culture first hand before reading; it made the jokes and certain moments in the book more relevant and funny.
The book started strongly – Sam’s story of applying for the job and initially adjusting are some of the best chapters. Even the people he met while abroad had their own quirks and wild backstories. It’s a great advert for the JET Programme; I actually know someone who has been on the programme, and it seems like an incredible opportunity to be integrated into a whole new culture whilst making a good wage. The website can be found here, for those of you who may be interested! I was intrigued to read as much as possible about Sam’s teaching experiences, but he predominantly talks instead about the trips he goes on with the new friends he makes.
My only real criticism is that there doesn’t seem to be any chronology to the events that are told. Sam jumps from one great story to another, and at times this can feel random and disjointed. This is made up for by the fact that Sam is clearly passionate about his subject; he talks of Fukui and its community with such love and fondness, and it is easy to feel his loss when his time there comes to an end.
Star Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)
You can actually check out a trailer for the book here: