More “like a machine than a city” is how Paul Theroux recently characterized Tokyo, a city many of us see as a breeding tank for creativity. True, the more subtle voices of the megalopolis are often drowned out in the din, but this is where artists can help, by adding warmth, depth and texture. Among the city’s interesting life forms are its expatriate writers.

Editor Hillel Wright contends that, like jungle crows, those highly visible airborne pests that have taken up residence in Tokyo, expatriate writers are “tolerated by the local population as somehow necessary to the ecology of the bio-region, but hardly ever actually liked.” As far as the Japanese are said to welcome foreigners, but only those who mind their manners, this is a fair assessment.

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