Michael Pronko

Michael Pronko
Michael Pronko
Tokyo’s Mystery Deepens
Is Tokyo unknowable? Mysterious? Confusing? Not in these essays!
The biggest city in the world just became clearer!

Writing about Tokyo for over 15 years, essayist and professor Michael Pronko unlocks the doors to Tokyo life. These 48 essays reveal what’s hidden behind the gleaming exteriors and unconcerned faces in the largest, most crowded city in the world.

How to sweat politely, survive noise trucks and glance sideways are some of the many skills needed to live in Tokyo, but these tricks of daily life also contain deep meanings. Pronko’s essays muse over the minutest of details, everything from window flowers to moments of eye contact to the gestures needed to navigate crowded spaces. If you’re traveling to Tokyo, living there or just thinking of going, these essays point you toward the rich byways and fascinating undercurrents of Tokyo life.

Essay Topics Include:
Compact Life
Tokyo Exhaustion
The Lunch Ritual
Mothers and Daughters
Tokyo Doubled

As in the first collection of essays, Beauty and Chaos, Pronko examines Tokyo as a city, a culture and an overpowering experience. Tokyo’s Mystery Deepens explores the enigmatic sides of Tokyo with humor, delicacy and a large dose of healthy confusion.
Beauty and Chaos
Tokyo, Japan
I have lived, taught and written in Tokyo for fifteen years. I work as a professor at Meiji Gakuin University teaching American literature, culture, film, music, and art. Fielding questions from my students about Jackson Pollock or Kurt Vonnegut and then wandering through Shinjuku’s neon mayhem always puts ideas for writing into my head. Teaching keeps me searching for the heart of life in the world’s biggest city.

I have written for many publications in Japan: The Japan Times for a dozen years, the once-great Tokyo Q, a learner-oriented weekly ST Shukan, Winds magazine, Jazz Colo[u]rs (in Italian!), and Artscape Japan. I have run my own website Jazz in Japan (jazzinjapan.com) for almost a decade. I also helped found Japan’s first bilingual jazz magazine, Jazznin and continue to publish academic articles and run a conference on teaching literature.

The essays in Beauty and Chaos and the second collection, Tokyo’s Mystery Deepens, were mostly culled from my regular column in Newsweek Japan in Japanese and then collected together in a single volume in 2006 and again in in 2009.

I was born in Kansas City, also a very different world from Tokyo. After traveling around the world and popping in and out of graduate school, I lived in Beijing, China for three years. Now, I live in Tokyo with my wife, Lisa Yinghong Li, who also teaches and writes.
Tokyo, film adaptations, American literature, jazz

Don’t let your schooling get in the way of your education.

  • Michael Pronko