My 4th book, Beato Goes To Japan just released in June 2018! This book required years of research, where I traveled to the country three times, exploring some of the small towns and the unique cultural etiquettes. There is always a story behind the story and here are some secrets about the book that will make your reading even more interesting.
I get asked this question a lot. There are 190 countries in the world, I have traveled to about 75, but the reason I decided to write about Japan is because of the impression it left on me. During my 3 visits to Japan, I had the good fortune of venturing beyond the hustle and bustle of Tokyo to explore the countrysides and immersive in Japanese culture. I hiked along the Buddhist trails in the Kyushu mountains, slept on tatami floor mats at traditional Ryokans, trained with a 13th generation Yamabushi, ate endless amounts of artfully made sushi, and had a 3 hour long conversation with a maiko (geisha in training). I was most impressed by the politeness of the Japanese people and their respect for tradition, nature, and for each other.
Who is Kazumi?
The main character in the book is Kazumi, a girl from Okinawa who takes Beato around Japan to show her culture and country. Kazumi, in real life, is a beautiful and adventurous lady, who loves to travel and learn about cultures. She moved from Okinawa to US for graduate school, and now works for Delta Airlines. The illustrations are based on photos of Kazumi when she was a kid. She wore a red kimono, had bangs on her face and she was always smiling.
Even some of the things referred to in the book are based on Kazumi’s favorite things to do in Japan. Can you spot those pages?
What about the other characters?
All the other characters in the book are real too! Do you remember Ruso the dog, Beato’s big brother who gives him advice on where to go in every Beato Goes To book? In Beato Goes To Japan, you will also see Mayumi Honma, a calligraphy master I took a lesson with while in Japan. And the man dressed in white Yamabushi Master Fumihiro Hoshino, a 13th generation Yamabushi or mountain hermit who I trained with in the three sacred mountains of Deva.
What’s there to learn?
Most of the Japanese children’s books I have come across are folk tales or comic books known as manga. In Japan, Kazumi and Beato learn about both Japan’s ancient and modern cultures. They visit the iconic Mount Fuji, gardens with cherry blossom (sakura) trees, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Beato learns about sumo and karate. Then they sleep in a capsule hotel, dance with robots, and make silly faces at a photo booth.
The book introduces readers to Japanese destinations, wildlife, sports, food, costumes, art, religion and much more. The main theme that carries over through the book is of “respect” as it reflects in the way Japanese people bow to each other when they greet and the depth of their bows show seniority. Even adults who have read the book have claimed they learned a lot about Japanese culture from Beato Goes To Japan!
So, what are you waiting for? Order a copy online or come by my book signing in Atlanta…