Discussion Guide


  1. Tales of Tokyo is a modern quest novel. Each of the four main characters is seeking something. To what extent does he or she succeed? Or did they find something altogether different, as Ian suggested: "It is in the nature of the quest that we often do not realize what we've been searching for until after we have found it." (Page 206)
  2. Who was your favorite character, and why?
  3. As Jason departs for Kyoto, Ian warns him, "No one returns from the quest the same person as when he set out" (page 261). What do you think he meant by that, and why is it a warning?
  4. In quest literature, one often finds guides or mentors to help the seeker on his or her journey. Ian is clearly a mentor and guide for Jason. Who were the guides to Chris, Sally, and Delia? Who have been the guides and mentors in your own life?
  5. In Nagasaki, Chris tells Jason, "We're all wounded, you know, just in different ways" (page 447). Do you agree or disagree? How might each of the major and minor characters be considered "wounded"?
  6. How do Chris's attitudes about sex and love evolve through his relationships with Kelly, Terry, Jason and Yoshio?
  7. Different philosophies about love and sex are presented through different characters (Peter, Sally, Delia, Beth, Ian.) What is each of their attitudes? Which attitude most reflects your own view?
  8. Delia comes to realize that "she could accomplish more by swimming with the current than by trying to change the course of the river" (page 410). How does this reflect a development in her character?
  9. On their winter trip, the young travelers make up ghost stories to help pass the time. How does each story reflect the character who is telling it? Which was your favorite ghost story? Which story do you think should have won the competition?
  10. Jack Crawford leaves Chris a parting gift (page 420) and Chris wrestles with what he should do with it. What do you think he finally did with the gift? What would you have done in his position?
  11. Peter tells Chris, "Other cultures experience the world differently than we do" (page 563). From your experience, what are some examples of how cultures experience the world differently?
  12. Bonus point for writers: How does the "interlude" (Chapter 58, p. 265ff) reflect your experience of writing fiction, or not?