Sentimental memories of Japan, and Halfway Home by Christine Mari Inzer

A book about Japan? A really cute book with drawings and comics about Japan, drawn by a teenager? I am totally in! As soon as I heard about Halfway Home: Drawing My Way Through Japan by Christine Mari Inzer, I knew I’d love it and would be reminiscing about my own time in Japan – two of the most interesting years of my life!

Halfway Home by Christine Mari Inzer

Halfway Home by Christine Mari Inzer

This is the second giveaway for my Armchair Travel month, part of Not A Ballerina’s 10th birthday celebrations – and I do want to thank my super-lovely sponsor Kate Leeming for her continuing support of these celebrations – if you missed out on winning her amazing book Njinga about her cycle trip across Africa, have a look at Kate’s website.

Halfway Home – Christine Mari Inzer’s first book

Christine is a half-Japanese, half-American teen who spent her early years in Japan before moving to the United States. Recently she spent a couple of months back in Japan with her grandparents and her book Halfway Home is the result – halfway home because she’s really got two homes. And it’s such a gorgeous result!

It’s a short, cute read, but with many telling moments about Japanese culture, and it roughly follows the trip that Christine took, depicting highlights and lessons learned along the way. I laughed when I read the page about her attempts to get a Japanese boy on the train to notice her – this is a big challenge, because apparently all Japanese boys (hmm, maybe not just Japanese boys, I suspect …) are too busy looking at their phones to look at girls!

Some pages are filled with large drawings and a few notes, others are more like comic strips, and this variety kept me turning the pages at a rapid rate. I’m certainly impressed that this is the work of a teenager and she no doubt has a very bright future ahead of her.

Natsukashii – reliving my sentimental memories of Japan

Memories of Japan and a review of Halfway Home by Christine Mari Inzer

My memories of Japan: meeting some sumo wrestlers in Oaska, and frolicking with the deer in Nara Park.

What I especially loved about this book was it helped me remember some of the lovely little parts of my own Japanese experience – like a local festival, or Matsuri, and all the typical stalls they have there – like the goldfish catching stand where the little scoop you use is made of a paper that deteriorates the more you use it and eventually becomes useless for fish catching (so you’ve got to get them fast!).

One of my favourite parts was Christine’s description of visiting Nara Park (very close to where I lived during my second year in Japan) and seeing the Dai Butsu or Giant Buddha, plus this odd pillar that has a hole in where people can (just) crawl through. When my mother visited me in Japan, we went to the same temple, and since she’s a small thing she managed to crawl through this hole, and we were all sure it would lead to plenty of good luck. Well, maybe it did and maybe it didn’t, but Christine reports asking a monk there during her visit and he said: “Everyone just does that for fun. There’s no meaning to it.” Oh no! I’ve already confessed this to my mother and she coped pretty well, it must be said. (Actually I just remembered that we were told the hole was meant to be the same size as the Giant Buddha’s nostril. I wish I could ask Christine to go back and ask that monk about that!)

Christine Mari Inzer Halfway Home Dai Butsu

Yes, even my mother crawled through this hole at a temple in Nara, Japan (image from Christine Mari Inzer)

And finally, I liked that parts of the book are devoted to Christine’s own experience of growing up and learning independence during her stay in Japan. I was about ten years older than she was when I first went to Japan, but I still remember the anxiety of taking trains alone and figuring out where to change and reading the signs (not all of which had romaji or Roman alphabet translations on them) – while strangers are always so helpful in Japan, it can still be tricky to get around in less-touristed areas, and of course it becomes a fun challenge after a while, but can be scary at first!

Giveaway of Halfway Home

Armchair Travel month for my birthday means I’m giving away the presents, so – who would love a copy of this beautiful book? Any fellow Japanophiles will instantly love it but it’d be a good fun read for anyone with even a passing interest in Japan.

As usual, I want to make it easy for my lovely readers to enter – so leave your answer to this question here or on the Facebook page.

Would you prefer to:

eat lunch with a sumo wrestler

OR feed a deer in Nara Park

– and why?

I so look forward to reading your answers! You’ve got a week to think up a goodie!

Competition fine print

  • Entries close at midnight (Perth time) Saturday 21st February 2015.
  • This is a game of skill. The most interesting answer will be chosen by an appointed judge.
  • Winner will be notified by email and published on the Facebook page.
  • Prize is not redeemable for cash and are non-transferable.



  1. This book looks so good!!
    I think I’d rather eat lunch with a Sumo wrestler because that would be quite a spectacle and I never made it to a live sumo tournament whilst we were in Japan 🙂 but we did feed the deer at Nara Park and contemplated wriggling through the hole!!

  2. Now WHY did I only just now discover your gorgeous blog and this give away?? Definitely have to get this book, think my comic-loving boy would really like to “read” it – and me too, of course 😉


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