Japan in You Only Live Twice
As I mentioned a few days ago, I just re-read Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice.
One thing that struck me during this reading was the view of Japan and the Japanese culture. I’d always thought of the novel as a kind of celebration, even fetishization, of everything Japanese. But on closer examination, Fleming is actually really hostile to Japan. The food is weird, sake is served in irritating little thimbles, the ninjas think they’re all that but the German SS would have wiped the floor with them, and the clothes are chintzy. They’re conformists, they’re obsessed with death, and they brought Doctor Shatterhand’s suicide garden on themselves. Barely a page turns without some dripping disdain pointed Japan’s way.
And what’s interesting is that YOLT is often described as a sort of loving travelogue, whereas it’s almost the opposite. Food for thought.