Review: Books Set In Japan – ‘The Man With The Red Tattoo’ (2002)

A slight tweak on my ‘Review: Films Set In Japan…’ series for this one-off special book review. I’ve never read any 007 novels and I only came across this a couple of years back when I was surfing the net in search of the filming locations for the 1967 film ‘You Only Live Twice’. I’d forgotten all about it until I saw it in a second hand book shop a few weeks ago so I picked it up (I paid for it too!) as I was interested to see what parts of Japan the story takes place in.


This James Bond adventure was written by Raymond Benson and is in some ways the natural follow-up to the aforementioned movie even though they are over thirty years apart. Of course Bond never really ages and his ally Tiger Tanaka is back albeit not in tip-top condition following a triple bypass.

The book doesn’t stray too far from the film formula with a host of symmetrical characters and sets. For example, Agent Rieko Tamura is a carbon-copy of Agent Aki in ‘You Only Live Twice’ and Bond experiences traditional Japanese culture this time via a chase through the Kabuki theatre as opposed to going to see some sumo action in ‘You Only Live Twice’.

Unlike the Bourne franchise, Bond stories have always taken place at famous sites around the world and this book is no exception as it features Hachiko, Meiji shrine, Yoyogi Park, Kabuki-cho in Shinjuku, Tsukiji fish market, Kabuki-za theatre, the Great Buddha in Kamakura as well as places up in Hokkaido which I’m not familiar with. As a locations geek I’m never too keen to see such landmark places appear in stories and this particular one did feel like a guide-book at times as the history of the places was worked into the story. Maybe thats ok for readers who don’t know about Japan but personally I didn’t see a need for such lengthy background of the places featured. Chases through both Tsukiji fish market and Kabuki-za seem to only happen in order to give the author a chance to pad out the book with some facts about those places.

I found the book fairly easy to read and therein lies a kind-of problem as I often fail to get a proper real grasp of the plots in the movies but thats almost of secondary concern among the gadgets, girls, catchphrases and action.

The photos below are of places that feature in ‘The Man With The Red Tattoo”:

Top line: Hachiko statue outside Shibuya station & Meiji Shrine in Harajuku

2nd line: Mejiji Shrine outer gate, Harajuku & Studio Alta in Shinjuku

3rd line: Kabukicho area in Shinjuku

4th line: Bond stays on the 30th floor of the Imperial Tower which is part of the Imperial Hotel & Tsukiji fish market

5th line: The remains of Kabuki-za theatre in Ginza & The Great Buddha, Kamakura

Bottom line: Takanawa Prince Hotel in Shinagawa