Travel Tuesday: “Abroad in Japan” Audiobook Review
More than a decade ago, Chris Broad moved to Japan and started his cleverly named YouTube channel Abroad in Japan. Now, Broad has penned a new book of the same name that chronicles his time in the Land of the Rising Sun.
As a fan of Broad’s videos, I was excited to discover that he’d written this book. Furthermore, seeing as I enjoy his sarcastic tone and British accent, I opted to pick up the audiobook version, which he narrates himself. Aside from knowing what type of content Broad usually creates, I didn’t exactly know what this book would be — but was more than satisfied with the result.
First, it’s important to note that Abroad in Japan isn’t a travel guide or “how-to” book. Although Broad offers plenty of travel and Japanese learning tips on his channel, that’s not the main focus here. Instead, the book is more of a memoir, following Broad as he starts his job teaching English (without knowing any Japanese), endures the associated culture shock, explores the country, and grows his YouTube channel.
Even though I was partially familiar with Broad’s story, hearing about it in detail truly fascinated me. Like all good stories, each chapter had unique elements while remaining largely relatable. Plus, Broad’s unrelenting wit and humor regularly shined through.
Although, as I noted, this book isn’t really a guide to Japan, there are a few takeaways that prospective visitors (or even those looking to make a similar move for themselves) may pick up on. Namely, for those who may only be familiar with big cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, Broad does his best to highlight what lesser-seen parts of Japan — such as the northern part of the country — have to offer. Meanwhile, if you’re hoping to learn the Japanese language and its thousands of Kanji characters more effectively, Broad does share some of the ways that he was able to accomplish this intimidating task.
Something else I appreciated about the book is that, while Broad makes reference to his YouTube from time to time, it never feels overly promotional or self-congratulatory. Additionally, while familiarity with Broad may raise your interest in Abroad in Japan, it’s not necessary as the book easily stands on its own. At the same time, hearing some of his stories did lead me to look up a few of the corresponding videos (such as revisiting the brief video he shot amidst a North Korean missile launch warning).
If you’re looking for a travel book that will provide you with specific itineraries for exploring Japan, Abroad in Japan is not that. Nevertheless, I found the book to be an entertaining read that still manages to capture the unique nature of the country. Of course, as Broad admits, his British snark may mean that he’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Luckily for me, I appreciate his humor, making his audiobook narration a plus. Overall, while Abroad in Japan gets a big “thumbs up” from me, those who are unsure may want to check out Broad’s free YouTube content before shelling out money for this audiobook/book.