Articles & Reviews

Book Reviews, Excerpts from the Wagamama Bride, and articles about Jewish Life in Japan


This compelling and insightful memoir reads like a classic love story full of trials and tribulations. Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi’s spiritual journey in Japan from secular to orthodox Judaism is a reflection on transformation, relationships, family values, finding happiness, and being true to oneself.

Rediscovering myself as a Jew while living in Japan for 30 years Exclusive Interview | Lien Wakabayashi (Artist & Journalist)

Liane Wakabayashi is a Jewish artist and journalist who has lived in Japan for 30 years. While living in Japan with her Japanese husband and two children, she learned about her customs and religious concepts, and also explored her own Judaism. Twenty years ago she founded the ” Genesis Art Intuitive Academy ” and now teaches Israel how to express their inner thoughts in art, called the “Genesis way”.

The Bride Wagamam

Ironically, her neshamah was brought to the surface in Tokyo By Devorie Kreiman.

The Sacrifice Needed to Live Between Cultural Worlds (Book Review by ERIC MARGOLIS)

“The Wagamama Bride” is, on the surface, a memoir about a non-Japanese woman’s resoluteness—her wagamama, or ‘selfishness’—to survive in an unfamiliar world. Ultimately, the book reveals the immense sacrifice required to truly live between two cultures, and the ways in which ideals and identity can both foster growth and nearly destroy a family.


A memoir about navigating one’s faith and cultural identity within the parameters of a marriage.

Book Review of The Wagamama Bride

The Wagamama Bride is about the life of a young, secular, Jewish New Yorker who finds herself in Japan, both literally and figuratively. In Tokyo she meets a charming…

Fasting on Tisha B’Av in Wimbledon (By Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi)

You sure do pick your moments to make a point, dear. Is fasting on Yom Kippur not good enough for you?…

Braiding Challah and Learning Torah in the Rebbetzin’s Kitchen in Japan (By Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi)

Whether it was learning Torah or helping prepare for Shabbat at the Chabad House in Tokyo, the rebbetzin’s kitchen was her mission control. We would stand side by side, preparing the challah dough. The rebbetzin would measure out flour from a huge sack…

Chanukah Miracle: The Chabad Rabbi From Tokyo at My Mother’s Grave (By Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi)

I just couldn’t appreciate what it must have been like for my mother to grow up in a city where you are the micro-minority—that is, until I moved to Tokyo…

Mikvah off the Coast of Tokyo (By Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi)

On the appointed evening, the Rebbetzin turned up in front of my house with the rabbi idling the van in the driver’s seat…

How Simchat Torah in Tokyo Touched My Faith (By Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi)

The table was crowded with people I wouldn’t expect to see at a Chassidic gathering…

THE WAGAMAMA BRIDE: A Jewish Family Saga Made in Japan by Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi – reviewed by Lora Sharnoff

It has been common for several decades for Westerners in Japan to seek enlightenment and spiritual comfort in Buddhism and other Asian religions. It’s a well-traveled road, but Liane Wakabayashi’s path to spirituality in Japan, as depicted in this book, is unique.

Serendipity and ‘A Kyoto Romance’

From New York City, the ink barely dry on a master’s degree in arts administration, I’d come to Tokyo to try my luck as an arts writer. My self-assigned beat became the top floor art galleries of Tokyo department stores, purveyors of some of the finest nihonga paintings in the nation. 

A Japanese Bar-Mitzvah Boy Comes of Age in Israel

The bar mitzvah became a magazine’s cover story circulated to synagogues throughout Israel, and my son’s fame became legendary—literally.

Coming To Shabbos

“My Zeidy called it ‘der heiliker Shabbos’ (the holy Shabbos); my father called it ‘the Sabbath,’ my children call it ‘Saturday’, and my grandchildren call it ‘the day before Super Bowl Sunday’.”

From Japan To Jerusalem (Book Review by Ziona Greenwald)

Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi’s return to her Jewish roots began in earnest at a Chabad House in Tokyo, the city she had moved to as a young journalist and called home for more than 20 years. Ironically, it was at another Chabad House, at a weekly women’s Torah class, that I met Liane – in Jerusalem, where we both live…

Jerusalem Post In-Jerusalem Magazine Cover Story (By Greer Fay Cashman)

One would imagine that the most difficult part of writing a memoir is deciding what to put in and what to leave out, bearing in mind who of one’s living relatives and friends might be insulted either way. Some memoir writers can just dive in and swim in a flow of consciousness, completing their memoir in the space of a week…

A Desk In Japan Brings Back Memories Of An American Jewish Childhood (By Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi)

A household of perfectly matching teak furniture — and a solitary refuge, a teak island of a desk — couldn’t save my parents’ increasingly unhappy marriage…

My Japanese Daughter’s Coming of Age Ceremony In Jerusalem (By Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi)

For my Japanese mother-in-law, my moving to Israel was a disaster — and not just because I was tearing the family apart…

Asian Jewish Life Cover Story (By Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi)

Aki worked for Akahigedo, a traditional Eastern medicine clinic that based its work ethic on the old Edo practice of training staff to surpass acupuncture and shiatsu technique. To become a master, you had to become acquainted with your own soul…

Becoming Observant in Tokyo: A Personal Shabbat Journey (By Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi)

This is the account of my journey in-progress toward becoming Shabbos- observant in Tokyo. I have been married for 22 years to Akihiko Wakabayashi…

Other articles about Jewish Life Between Japan and Jerusalem

Get the latkes out for Hanukkah in Japan (By Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi)

When Binyomin Edery, the chief rabbi of Japan, was a child growing up in the farming village of Kfar Chabad in Israel, the nine-pronged menorah could be seen everywhere during the winter Hanukkah festival. So when he arrived in Japan during Hanukkah 18 years ago,…

Inside Eitanim psychiatric hospital (By Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi)

A mother’s candid firsthand account of her bipolar daughter’s stay – and her own battle to cope…

The Untold Story of Japan’s Oskar Schindler (By Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi)

Willy Foerster saved Jews fleeing the Nazis by employing them in his Tokyo factory but was framed as a collaborator after the war and has remained largely unknown…

Meet the Artist: JUDAICA IN The SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH Liane Wakabayashi

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. I was born in Montreal, raised and educated in the New York City area (Queens and Great Neck), graduated with a BA in…

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