“A young Japanese woman was running through Tokyo station screaming “Save me! Save me!” There was a Japanese man chasing her and closing in. He grabbed her wrist and caught her about 10 feet in front of me. The woman was still yelling “Save me! Save Me!” but the Japanese people in the crowded station ignored her, not wanting to get involved.”
After reading the intro, my curiosity for the book; No Pianos, Pets and Foreigners, written by Joe Palermo, was tickled since the intro created the idea that there will be an exciting story awaiting me.
The first thing that really stood out was the short chapters. This made the book read more like a journal describing the author’s journey to studying in Japan and eventually working there for a longer time and meet his partner to start a family with.
Joe tells the reader how he got in contact with Japan and how he came to decide to go back and make this country part of his life or rather, how he made himself a part of Japanese society back then. I say back then because most of his experiences take place in the ’80s of the previous century, a time when Japan had foreigners visiting but not as many as there are today let alone foreigners deciding to come live and work in Japan. He also explains how he was able to become fluent in Japanese at that time.
Of course, many challenging things would happen that were a lot trickier to get done in those years as there was no internet or other easy resources, something Joe mentions a few times too. You could feel like there was space to elaborate more on some of the topics or adventures described in this short book. My personal like is that one of his longest chapters describes the way he was able to marry his Japanese wife and that one of the others was about food. Very important topics in my opinion!
It is not a “How to live in Japan” type of book but more a view on experiences of an American guy that moved to Japan and started an unknown adventure with surprising turns of events that life provides for you. It’s also very casually written and that makes it easy to read if you’re not in the mood for a long story.
There is not much I can tell you about the story without spoiling, so you would have to pick up the book and check it out yourself to find out.
More info about the author
Joe Palermo grew up in Addison, Illinois. Upon graduation from the University of Illinois at Chicago, he moved to Japan to accept a position with the Japanese government as a Mombusho English Fellow (MEF). He spent 3 years working for Shimaden, a Japanese manufacturer of industrial temperature controllers and then joined the Nielsen company (formerly A.C. Nielsen) locally in Japan. His career at Nielsen spanned 25 years in various senior corporate roles focused on global market research, which brought him back to the US. He worked for 6 years in a global capacity for Information Resources, Inc (IRI) where he established several global services. He is now semi-retired and lives with his wife in the suburbs of Chicago.
Author: Joe Palermo
Number of pages: 135