comics & essays
about | events | merch | ask bi grlz podcast

facebook | instagram | twitter | support mari on patreon!


Turning Japanese
by MariNaomi

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-937541-16-3 $24.95
Published by 2dcloud, May 10, 2016

Buy it from 2dcloud.

* * * * *

About the Book

Turning Japanese
is a comics memoir that chronicles MariNaomi's experiences working in illegal
hostess bars in San Jose and Tokyo while attempting to connect with a culture that had eluded
her since childhood.


The story begins in 1995 (where Mari's first memoir, Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, left off), when
22-year-old Mari had just gotten out of a long-term relationship. She moved to San Jose, California,
where she was exposed to a wider Asian population than she'd ever known in her hometown of Mill Valley.


It didn't take her much time to fall in love with a new person. Soon after, she found employment at a hostess
bar for Japanese expats, where she was determined to learn the Japanese language and culture. This all in
the hopes of finally connecting with her Japanese relatives without the use of her mother as a translator.


Turning Japanese is a story about otherness, culture clashes, generation gaps and youthful impetuosity.

* * * * *

Praise for Turning Japanese

"At a time in our history when 'American' is being defined more and more as a conservative,
gun-toting, white, heterosexual man, a memoir like Turning Japanese becomes an urgent
and necessary voice to add to the conversation."
~ Sean Carswell, Arizona Daily Sun
Read the entire Arizona Daily Sun review here.

"A definite summer must-read and absolute required reading for graphic narrative fans."
~ Asian Am Lit Fans
Read the entire Asian Am Lit Fans review here.

"Mari's portrait-of-an-artist-as-a-culturally-'nebulous'-young-woman is a vulnerable, searching,
raw record. Exploring the meaning of 'hafu' on both sides of the world doesn't always result in
easy answers, and the need for translation--not just of language--proves to be ongoing.
May the illuminating journeys continue." ~ Smithsonian APA Center
Read the entire Smithsonian APA Center review here.

"MariNaomi's work is eye-catching because it defies the traditional. She's a true artist in that
she plays between the realms of chronological narrative and experimental art. ... I can think of few
working cartoonists who are so underrated; she deserves much more admiration from the comics world."
~ Women Write about Comics
Read the entire Women Write About Comics review here.

"It is a tremendous blessing to read anything that comes from a skillful graphic memoirist like MariNaomi.
In Turning Japanese, her unflinching honesty, open heart and hard-earned wisdom challenges us
to embrace the unexpected detours that unfold in our own lives. The empty spaces in her minimalist
artwork contain many wells of unspoken feelings that linger with you long after you finish reading her book."
Yumi Sakugawa, author of Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe

"The best comic about being Asian American in Japan. Like Fun Home and Persepolis, Turning Japanese
is at once modest and grand. MariNaomi is a master of the small, intimate moments that build to a
surprisingly emotional climax." ~ Jason Shiga, author of Demon

"Turning Japanese is about not just contradictions and opposites, but also how someone can
be and feel two things at once. In a society that privileges binary distinctions (and almost
always creates a hierarchy based on those distinctions), MariNaomi's status as someone
frequently-in-between points out how simply living her life in certain places and spaces
created a tension born from social mores being stretched. She's a person, not an accumulation
of traits, and as such this book is about the thoughts and feelings that go into creating
and presenting one's identity as well as exploring different aspects of one's roots.
All of this is done with an absence of pretension and an emphasis on humor."
~ Rob Clough, High-Low

* * * * *

Buy it from 2dcloud.

View an excerpt on PEN America.

* * * * *

Buy it from 2dcloud.

* * * * *

Animated book trailer for Turning Japanese
created by MariNaomi