About Martin Roth
Martin Roth was born in New Zealand in 1949.
His father Bert Roth, a Jewish refugee from Vienna, had been a leader of the
Austrian Communist underground movement; his mother, Margot, from an
Anglican family, was a
journalist on Wellington’s left-wing Southern Cross newspaper. He
graduated in law from Auckland University and then went to work as a reporter on
the now-defunct Auckland Star. He followed this with 15 months on
papers in the British West Midlands (the
Express and Star in
Wolverhampton and the
Sunday Mercury in Birmingham) and six months working on kibbutzim
in Israel, before travelling to Japan in 1976 for a short working holiday.
He ended up staying there 17 years.
As a freelance journalist based in Tokyo his
reports from throughout Asia appeared in leading (and not-so-leading)
newspapers and magazines around the world. He also became deeply involved in
Buddhism, and in 1985 his first book was published,
Zen Guide, co-authored with noted Buddhist scholar
Professor John Stevens.
His publisher then asked him to write the
first English-language guide to the joys of
saké (Japanese rice
wine). And so together with one of Japan’s leading saké writers and judges
he blissfully embarked on a drinking tour of Japan’s 2,000-odd
breweries, only to see the project shelved
when a rival publisher came out with its own English-language book on the
His next book was a concise introduction for
foreigners to the Japanese stock market. It was conservatively written, but
the publisher unwisely titled it
Making Money in Japanese Stocks, and with astute timing it appeared
in bookstores in late-1989, right before the bursting of the Tokyo share
In 1978 he wrote a lengthy article on
karaoke, and today among his prized possessions (along with his collections
of sumo magazines and saké bottle labels) is a letter from the editors of
the Oxford English Dictionary stating that they will cite the article
the next time they revise the karaoke entry in the dictionary. The earliest
citation at present is from September 1979, so unless another writer steps
forward with an earlier reference Martin Roth can claim to be the person who
introduced karaoke to the English-speaking world.
He came to live in Australia in 1993, and to
his own surprise soon found himself a devout worshipper at his
local Baptist church. He has
written about his lengthy spiritual path to Christianity in his 1999 book
Living Water to Light the Journey.
He now lives in the suburbs of Melbourne
with his Korean wife, three sons and golden retriever, working as a
freelance business and finance author and trying unsuccessfully to write