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In The Japanese Mind, Roger Davies offers Westerners an invaluable key to the unique aspects of Japanese culture. Readers of this book will gain a clear understanding of what really makes the Japanese, and their society, tick. Among the topics explored: aimai (ambiguity), amae (dependence upon others' benevolence), amakudari (the nation's descent from heaven), chinmoku (si In The Japanese Mind, Roger Davies offers Westerners an invaluable key to the unique aspects of Japanese culture. Readers of this book will gain a clear understanding of what really makes the Japanese, and their society, tick. Among the topics explored: aimai (ambiguity), amae (dependence upon others' benevolence), amakudari (the nation's descent from heaven), chinmoku (silence in communication), gambari (perseverence), giri (social obligation), haragei (literally, "belly art"; implicit, unspoken communication), kenkyo (the appearance of modesty), sempai-kohai (seniority), wabi-sabi (simplicity and elegance), and zoto (gift giving), as well as discussions of childrearing, personal space, and the roles of women in Japanese society. Includes discussion topics and questions after each chapter.


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In The Japanese Mind, Roger Davies offers Westerners an invaluable key to the unique aspects of Japanese culture. Readers of this book will gain a clear understanding of what really makes the Japanese, and their society, tick. Among the topics explored: aimai (ambiguity), amae (dependence upon others' benevolence), amakudari (the nation's descent from heaven), chinmoku (si In The Japanese Mind, Roger Davies offers Westerners an invaluable key to the unique aspects of Japanese culture. Readers of this book will gain a clear understanding of what really makes the Japanese, and their society, tick. Among the topics explored: aimai (ambiguity), amae (dependence upon others' benevolence), amakudari (the nation's descent from heaven), chinmoku (silence in communication), gambari (perseverence), giri (social obligation), haragei (literally, "belly art"; implicit, unspoken communication), kenkyo (the appearance of modesty), sempai-kohai (seniority), wabi-sabi (simplicity and elegance), and zoto (gift giving), as well as discussions of childrearing, personal space, and the roles of women in Japanese society. Includes discussion topics and questions after each chapter.

30 review for The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture

  1. 5 out of 5

    Victor Finn

    This was a nice little introductory book to the functions of Japanese society. The questions formulated at the end of each chapter are particularly good for sparking interesting thoughts and conversations. However, I had a few problems with it. The author projects the moral biases of the liberal west onto Japan and constantly criticizes them for not being egalitarian and globalized enough. I think the authors should have thought about these criticisms more critically and evaluated the hierarchic This was a nice little introductory book to the functions of Japanese society. The questions formulated at the end of each chapter are particularly good for sparking interesting thoughts and conversations. However, I had a few problems with it. The author projects the moral biases of the liberal west onto Japan and constantly criticizes them for not being egalitarian and globalized enough. I think the authors should have thought about these criticisms more critically and evaluated the hierarchical nature of Japanese society better. But then again, I guess the work of evaluating whether an idea is right or wrong is not the objective of a cultural anthropologist, but rather of a philosopher. So what I'm really saying is that the author should have just stayed within his bounds. Instead of criticizing 4,000+ year old Japanese social norms according to the standards of egalitarian social norms (which are maybe a few hundred years old, at best), he should just keep trying to describe Japan neutrally and objectively.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    This collection of 28 essays can serve as a text in cross-cultural communication. The writers are senior seminar students at Ehime University in Matsuyama, Japan in a cross-cultural class. Each essay covers a different theme and is named by the Japanese word for the custom or cultural value. The word is explained with context and examples; Research is cited. All essays are followed by discussion questions. Some essays have case studies and some present topics for further exploration. Harmony is This collection of 28 essays can serve as a text in cross-cultural communication. The writers are senior seminar students at Ehime University in Matsuyama, Japan in a cross-cultural class. Each essay covers a different theme and is named by the Japanese word for the custom or cultural value. The word is explained with context and examples; Research is cited. All essays are followed by discussion questions. Some essays have case studies and some present topics for further exploration. Harmony is shown to be an important value in Japanese life. It infuses almost all of the customs in these essays from the value of silence to seniority in personal and business relationships. Some of the essays define communication and customs that are universal, such as gift giving, showing how they play out in Japan. The longest chapter is on funerary customs which is very detailed (as are the customs themselves). Most of the essays speak to a diminished standing of the custom in modern Japan. As with any collection of essays some are of more interest than others. I found the essays on Aimai (ambiguity) and Amae (dependence) most helpful. The description of Wabi-Sabi was very good for helping to understand the simplicity and elegance in Japanese art. While this book is of interest to those who travel to Japan or work with Japanese people, its better use is as a text for cross-cultural studies.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    I picked this up out of curiosity after seeing it in a pile of books at a friends house. I suppose I could have done a little more research into similar books on the market as in the end I'm not quite the target audience of the book. It has several very short chapters on different topics that do provide interesting insights but I think 50% of the book is discussion topics and without anyone to discuss with I felt it fall a bit flat based on my own isolated knowledge, since the discussions were w I picked this up out of curiosity after seeing it in a pile of books at a friends house. I suppose I could have done a little more research into similar books on the market as in the end I'm not quite the target audience of the book. It has several very short chapters on different topics that do provide interesting insights but I think 50% of the book is discussion topics and without anyone to discuss with I felt it fall a bit flat based on my own isolated knowledge, since the discussions were where the essay information would have really come alive.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    While somewhat dry and academic I found all of these essays quite enjoyable, especially as an accompaniment / insight to all the Japanese literature I've been reading lately. It says in the introduction that this collection was developed for two audiences: university students participating in Japanese studies programs and Japanese students of English who wish to explain and discuss their culture - but I assure you it applies to more / anyone with a deeper than surface level interest in Japan. My While somewhat dry and academic I found all of these essays quite enjoyable, especially as an accompaniment / insight to all the Japanese literature I've been reading lately. It says in the introduction that this collection was developed for two audiences: university students participating in Japanese studies programs and Japanese students of English who wish to explain and discuss their culture - but I assure you it applies to more / anyone with a deeper than surface level interest in Japan. My favorite was definitely the essay on Wabi-Sabi and I promise you'll start seeing this everywhere soon enough. This aesthetic is going to be the new hygge of interior design. And to counter all the reviews that claim that these essays are some crusty old white man's interpretation of Japan - the intro also says that all the essays were written by Japanese students studying in the English department at the Ehime University: "all of the student-authors who contributed to this book were enrolled in programs in cross-cultural communication and/or English second language education, and the readings are the result of a multiyear writing program that culminated in a senior seminar in cross-cultural communication, where these essays were written."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This book is actually impossible to rate - it is a set of essays on different Japanese expressions and key-words. First of all, it is impossible to be equally interested in all of them, but that is not the main issue. The issue is that the quality is very, very uneven. Some of the essays reads as something a bored student has handed in, written the night before without any afterthought at all. And some of them are really great (I would especially like to mention the chapters Gambari, Hedataru no This book is actually impossible to rate - it is a set of essays on different Japanese expressions and key-words. First of all, it is impossible to be equally interested in all of them, but that is not the main issue. The issue is that the quality is very, very uneven. Some of the essays reads as something a bored student has handed in, written the night before without any afterthought at all. And some of them are really great (I would especially like to mention the chapters Gambari, Hedataru no Najimu, Chinmoku and Soushiki). So if you are interested in social studies focused on Japan it is well worth picking up - but you might want to skip some of the chapters.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chant

    Maybe I have read too many journals on East Asian culture because this felt extremely disappointing which is a shame. Ironically the place it was written (students) is not that far away (Matsuyama) from where I live (Takamatsu). The majority of the book is split into various topics of modern Japan that gloss over finer points and for the most point give such a superficial description of Japanese culture it leaves the reader wanting more. I have issue with Tuttle books in general because I know t Maybe I have read too many journals on East Asian culture because this felt extremely disappointing which is a shame. Ironically the place it was written (students) is not that far away (Matsuyama) from where I live (Takamatsu). The majority of the book is split into various topics of modern Japan that gloss over finer points and for the most point give such a superficial description of Japanese culture it leaves the reader wanting more. I have issue with Tuttle books in general because I know that it’s geared towards the general public but a lot of it presupposes that you have absolutely zero knowledge of Japan and for me that is extremely frustrating.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    Read this while in Japan, and it was illuminating. American and Japanese culture are extremely different, so having aspects of Japanese worldview explained felt necessary. As a Korean-American, I found aspects of Japanese culture that resonated with my parents' and grandparents' ways and worldviews as well. If I were Japanese, I'd probably raise more of an eyebrow, but on the whole I found this hugely helpful in understanding the culture. I recommend reading it before, during, or after a trip to Read this while in Japan, and it was illuminating. American and Japanese culture are extremely different, so having aspects of Japanese worldview explained felt necessary. As a Korean-American, I found aspects of Japanese culture that resonated with my parents' and grandparents' ways and worldviews as well. If I were Japanese, I'd probably raise more of an eyebrow, but on the whole I found this hugely helpful in understanding the culture. I recommend reading it before, during, or after a trip to Japan.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Teo 2050

    2020.11.08–2020.11.11 Contents Davies RJ & Ikeno O (eds.) (2002) (08:48) Japanese Mind, The - Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture Japanese Chronology Introduction Acknowledgments 01. Aimai : Ambiguity and the Japanese • The Origins of Aimai • Examples of Ambiguity • The Cross-Cultural Effects of Ambiguity • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 02. Amae : The Concept of Japanese Dependence • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Explo 2020.11.08–2020.11.11 Contents Davies RJ & Ikeno O (eds.) (2002) (08:48) Japanese Mind, The - Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture Japanese Chronology Introduction Acknowledgments 01. Aimai : Ambiguity and the Japanese • The Origins of Aimai • Examples of Ambiguity • The Cross-Cultural Effects of Ambiguity • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 02. Amae : The Concept of Japanese Dependence • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 03. Amakudari : Descent from Heaven • The Alliance between Government and Big Business • Amakudari in Two Ministries • Scandals: The Jūsen Debacle and Zenekon • Repercussions for Japanese Society • Solutions to the Problem • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 04. Bigaku : The Japanese Sense of Beauty • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 05. Bushidō : The Way of the Warrior • The Origins of Bushidō: Zen Buddhism • The Origins of Bushidō: Confucianism • Loyalty • Honor • After the Collapse of the Samurai Class • Bushidō in Modern Times • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 06. Chinmoku : Silence in Japanese Communication • The Underlying Causes of Chinmoku • The Function of Chinmoku • The Role of Chinmoku on Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 07. Danjyo Kankei : Male and Female Relationships in Japan • Historical Perspectives • Japanese Expressions • The Changing Consciousness of Men and Women in Relationships • Husband and Wife Relationships in Japan • Conclusions • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 08. The Dō Spirit of Japan • The Origins of the Spirit of Dō: Taoism • The Origins of the Spirit of Dō: Zen Buddhism • Characteristics of the Traditional Japanese Arts • Problems with the Spirit of Dō • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 09. Gambari : Japanese Patience and Determination • The Background of Gambari • The Meaning of Gambari • Different Ways of Thinking • The Deeper Causes of Gambari • Problems with Gambari • Changing Attitudes toward Gambari • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 10. Giri : Japanese Social Obligations • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 11. Haragei : An Implicit Way of Communicating in Japan • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 12. Hedataru to Najimu : Japanese Personal Space • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 13. Honne to Tatemae : Private vs. Public Stance in Japan • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 14. The Japanese Ie System • The Foundations of Ie • The System of Ie • Ie and Class System • Ie in Family Law • Conclusion 15. Iitoko-Dori : Adopting Elements of Foreign Culture • The Process of Iitoko-Dori • The Consequences of Iitoko-Dori • Conclusion • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 16. Ikuji : Childrearing Practices in Japan • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 17. Kenkyo : The Japanese Virtue of Modesty • The Vertical Society • The Function of Keigo • The Expression of Humility • Self-Effacement • Conclusion • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 18. Kisetsu : The Japanese Sense of the Seasons • Lifestyles • Annual Events • Literature • Conclusion • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 19. Nemawashi : Laying the Groundwork in Japan • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 20. Omiai : Arranged Marriage in Japan • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 21. Otogibanashi : Folktales of Japan • The Japanese Sense of Beauty • The Concept of Nature • The Ideal of Perfect Human Beings • Conclusion • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 22. Ryōsaikenbo—“Good Wives and Wise Mothers”: The Social Expectations of Women in Japan • Historical Background • Children's Socialization • Woman's Magazines as Conveyors of Sex Roles • Conclusions • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 23. Sempai-Kōhai : Seniority Rules in Japanese Relations • The History of Sempai-Kōhai • Sempai-Kōhai and the Japanese Language • The Current Style of Sempai-Kōhai • Problems in Sempai-Kōhai System • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 24. Shūdan Ishiki : Japanese Group Consciousness • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 25. Sōshiki : Japanese Funerals • Shinto • Buddhism • Modern Customs during the Funeral • • Deciding on the Date of the Funeral • • Matsugo no Mizu to Yukan: The Water of the Time of Death and Cleaning the Deceased • • Kyōkatabira to Shini Geshō: Clothes and Makeup for the Deceased • • Laying out the Dead Person • • Sakasa Goto: Upside-down Things • • Makura Kazari: Pillowside Decoration • • Kaimyō: A Posthumous Name • • Hitsugi: The Coffin • • Tsuya: The Wake • • Sōshiki: The Funeral • • Sōretsu : The Funeral Procession • • Kasō: Cremation • Modern Customs after the Funeral • • Shijūku Nichi Hōyū: A Buddhist Memorial Service Taking Place Forty-Nine Days After Death • • Butsudan: The Family Buddhist Altar • • Haka: The Grave • • Kamidana Fūji: Closing the Household Shinto Altar • • Kōden Gaeshi: Presents in Return for a Monetary Offering • • Fuku Mo: Mourning • • Nenki Hōyō: The Buddhist Memorial Services on the Anniversaries of Death • • O-Bon: The Bon Festival • • O-Higan: The Equinoctial Week • Conclusion • Notes • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 26. Uchi to Soto : Dual Meanings in Japanese Human Relations • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 27. Wabi-Sabi : Simplicity and Elegance as Japanese Ideals of Beauty • The Etymology of Wabi-Sabi • Zen Buddhism and the Development of Wabi-Sabi • Wabi-Sabi in the Traditional Arts • Wabi-Sabi in Modern Japan • Notes • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues 28. Zōtō : The Japanese Custom of Gift Giving • Seasonal Gifts • Ceremonial Gifts • Gifts for Other Occasions • Continuity and Reciprocity • Something for Daily Use—Practicality • A Comparison with the West • Discussion Activities • • Exploring Japanese Culture • • Exploring Cross-Cultural Issues References Glossary

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Jaffe

    Well, that was disappointing. Davies and Ikeno edited a book about modern Japanese culture, but it felt like it was a half-inch deep and a mile wide. I suppose that's inevitable given how they're trying to discuss an entire culture - but what's annoying is that they really don't discuss the entire culture. Instead, the book focuses on individualized aspects of Japanese culture. There are 28 chapters, each focusing on some aspect of Japanese belief or practice. That might sound nice in theory, bu Well, that was disappointing. Davies and Ikeno edited a book about modern Japanese culture, but it felt like it was a half-inch deep and a mile wide. I suppose that's inevitable given how they're trying to discuss an entire culture - but what's annoying is that they really don't discuss the entire culture. Instead, the book focuses on individualized aspects of Japanese culture. There are 28 chapters, each focusing on some aspect of Japanese belief or practice. That might sound nice in theory, but in reality it's like trying to read a book on the history of the US that gives a brief account of the history of 30 of the more important states - rarely with any sense of how the overall nation affects the state. A typical chapter is about 8 pages long - and that includes 2-3 pages at the end of discussion questions; so the heart of the chapter is about 6 pages or so. So you get only the barest and briefest understanding about the chapter's subject, and no bigger picture. Also, each chapter is more about WHAT goes on than HOW/WHY. Yes, knowing the what matters, but in a book titled "Understanding Japanese Culture" I'd like a bit more depth. So it's unfair to say it's a half-inch deep and a mile wide. It's a half-inch deep, but just covered scattered bits of ground haphazardly covering portions of a mile's worth of ground. I was hoping for a worthy successor to Ruth Benedict's WWII book on Japanese culture. That's a classic, but increasingly outdated. This? Well, it does give a sense of how things have changed over the last 70 years, but it's just not that good.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Phil (フィル)

    To many Westerners, the so called "Eastern mind" can be an enigma of seemingly conflicting ideologies and beliefs. However underlying this assumption is that there is any more of a common zeitgeist among Eastern peoples than there is among Western ones. This text will go even further to help clarify those ever elusive peculiarities in general East-West cross cultural understanding to tackle the unique facets of the Japanese cultural consciousness. Most importantly, however, is that this is a tex To many Westerners, the so called "Eastern mind" can be an enigma of seemingly conflicting ideologies and beliefs. However underlying this assumption is that there is any more of a common zeitgeist among Eastern peoples than there is among Western ones. This text will go even further to help clarify those ever elusive peculiarities in general East-West cross cultural understanding to tackle the unique facets of the Japanese cultural consciousness. Most importantly, however, is that this is a text which approaches its subject mater from a NATIVE Japanese viewpoint thanks to its collective authorship. Consequently, it remains largely free of the dangers of insensitive and uneducated generalization that many such culture critiques are prone to from their outside, often Western, writers. On the whole the format of this text makes it highly readable, and may just help anyone unfamiliar with Japanese culture better understand - and appreciate - its unique challenges and rewards.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

    I found this to be a mostly fascinating book regarding Japanese culture and why Japanese people do the things they do or think the way they think. I'm familiar with a lot of what is covered in the book but I wasn't aware of the reason why for most of it. Definitely recommended reading if you are planning on living/working in Japan or have close Japanese friends or relatives. I probably still won't change my views about how people should give gifts simply for the sake of giving and not expect any I found this to be a mostly fascinating book regarding Japanese culture and why Japanese people do the things they do or think the way they think. I'm familiar with a lot of what is covered in the book but I wasn't aware of the reason why for most of it. Definitely recommended reading if you are planning on living/working in Japan or have close Japanese friends or relatives. I probably still won't change my views about how people should give gifts simply for the sake of giving and not expect anything in return, but at least I'll understand why I'm expected to reciprocate with a gift worth half of the original gift when I didn't even want a gift in the first place!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tassos

    I started reading this book right before going for a month in Japan for a trip, and I must say it was very useful. It's a collection of essays written by Japanese university students about various aspects of Japanese culture and mentality. It's very difficult to know if all the details provided are accurate (I was just for a month there), but based on some discussions I had with Japanese people, they seem to confirm what the book is saying. Some repetition exists, but that is because each essay is I started reading this book right before going for a month in Japan for a trip, and I must say it was very useful. It's a collection of essays written by Japanese university students about various aspects of Japanese culture and mentality. It's very difficult to know if all the details provided are accurate (I was just for a month there), but based on some discussions I had with Japanese people, they seem to confirm what the book is saying. Some repetition exists, but that is because each essay is self-standing and the chapters of the book can be read in any order. Still though, I think that one or two topics could be skipped or merged with others in the book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dina P.

    Wish I could give 5.5 for this book. This is a thorough essays about Japanese cultures that for centuries has built up Japanese characters. I really wish I had read it sooner, at least before I tried to learn kanji. Because this book gives me insight of the Japanese life, why the say or do the way they say/do. It is a kind of book that has a chain reaction on me. It makes me want to read books on Japanese cultures and history, and short stories, and manga. Well, in fact just anything related to J Wish I could give 5.5 for this book. This is a thorough essays about Japanese cultures that for centuries has built up Japanese characters. I really wish I had read it sooner, at least before I tried to learn kanji. Because this book gives me insight of the Japanese life, why the say or do the way they say/do. It is a kind of book that has a chain reaction on me. It makes me want to read books on Japanese cultures and history, and short stories, and manga. Well, in fact just anything related to Japan.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katharine (Ventureadlaxre)

    Fairly well rounded and accurate - currently up to date as far as I'm aware, and very interesting from a historical point of view. It covered most subjects and talked of them in an easy-to-read fashion. Probably not that interesting to those who already know quite a bit of Japan however, as it doesn't go quite in-depth, but it's very good for those who are just starting to have an interest in Japan. Fairly well rounded and accurate - currently up to date as far as I'm aware, and very interesting from a historical point of view. It covered most subjects and talked of them in an easy-to-read fashion. Probably not that interesting to those who already know quite a bit of Japan however, as it doesn't go quite in-depth, but it's very good for those who are just starting to have an interest in Japan.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bobby Baden

    I appreciate the in-depth nature of this book and the relevance of the topics it addresses. The assessments are accurate, and the questions at the end of each chapter are helpful in guiding deeper thought. The questions would best be used as a discussion topic in a cross-cultural group setting.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bivisyani Questibrilia

    For such an interesting read, I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before I found it on my friend's bookshelf. She said, it used to be one of her textbooks when she was studying in university in Japan. Flipping through its table of contents, I gleamed at the various Japanese principles of living, finding myself only family with Bushido and the Senpai/Kouhai relationship. There are numerous concepts that I was familiar with and understood partially, but never knew they had a name—or why they exis For such an interesting read, I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before I found it on my friend's bookshelf. She said, it used to be one of her textbooks when she was studying in university in Japan. Flipping through its table of contents, I gleamed at the various Japanese principles of living, finding myself only family with Bushido and the Senpai/Kouhai relationship. There are numerous concepts that I was familiar with and understood partially, but never knew they had a name—or why they exist, but now I do. With nonfictions, I always believe that my reading experience will be infinitely better if I read the introduction/preface—and this book is no exception. The book consists of a compilation of essays written by Japanese students—who are supposed to be rather fluent in English—edited to fit into one another and flow beautifully from one paragraph to the next. It is a collective research of sorts, then, conducted by a collection of people who are very familiar on the topics. It is meant to give basic knowledge on the matter, but not meant to read in the alphabetical order as it is arranged—everyone is free to read it from whichever order they please. Although, personally, I loved reading it alphabetically, just because. It is definitely meant to be a textbook, complete with discussion topics and activities to jog our brain and train the readers to think critically—with the hopes of improving the Japanese way to fit into the modern world. On that regard, I feel like the editors and authors have done their jobs well. The essays are rather easy to understand, although some concepts just take a few repetitions for me to understand—as someone who isn't Japanese and has never set foot in Japan. The language used is very sophisticated but arranged in such a way that non-scholars will hopefully be able to grasp. Each topic is handled delicately, giving translations and explanations about each terminology used. As it can be read randomly, often you can find repetitions of information that you may have found on previous chapters—but sure does help jog our memory, because it's so easy to lose crucial information amidst the flood of data being hurled at us. The discussion and activity questions are, I find, very intriguing and challenging. They are definitely not yes-or-no questions and require time and bouncing ideas off other people to really be answered. They're also open questions, with no right or wrong answers, and really just a topic that can get a conversation going. I'm just sad that I was just reading it by myself and I have basically no one to discuss these topics with—although I really want to so badly. My only concern is how numerous terms seem to point to one concept. I suppose it is possible that these terms are parts of one big concept, which is huge in Japan: conformity. The Japanese are very concerned about blending in and adapting to the environment, instead of standing out and being different from everyone else. However, seeing this concept being brought up over and over and over again feels kind of stale. Of course, if that is the one point everyone should get from this book, it is understandable why it keeps popping up. Personally, though, I feel like it could've been done better. Generally, this book helps me understand the Japanese people a whole lot better. It gives me a sort of enlightenment the whole time. Everything about the way the Japanese behave and speak that I'd never understood before, now I can start to understand—although, as is usually the case with cultures, it is obviously impossible to fully understand everything, let alone accept it. If before I saw Japan and the Japanese people only from one side, now I feel like I've seen the whole of the moon—if only with some parts still shaded. There are still some parts that I want to understand, though, and I think this book hasn't got all the bases covered, but it's a great way to slowly dip into the Japanese society. This will be a great book for any foreigner who wants to move to Japan or join a Japanese household or simply curious about the way of the Japanese. Highly recommended!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Denise みか Hutchins

    This is an excellent introduction to many of the unique aspects of Japanese culture. It covers a wide range of topics, and manages to achieve a satisfying level of depth without becoming overwhelming. There were a few typos (maybe half a dozen), but considering the fact that it was written and edited by Japanese university students and professors, I didn't find them detrimental to understanding and in fact I found the writing to be impressively academic and professional. And the fact that this b This is an excellent introduction to many of the unique aspects of Japanese culture. It covers a wide range of topics, and manages to achieve a satisfying level of depth without becoming overwhelming. There were a few typos (maybe half a dozen), but considering the fact that it was written and edited by Japanese university students and professors, I didn't find them detrimental to understanding and in fact I found the writing to be impressively academic and professional. And the fact that this book was written by Japanese people is the number one thing that makes it trustworthy and credible. No matter how much a Western writer may sympathize with, study, or love Japanese culture, it is impossible to fully suppress or erase their inherent cultural bias. It's not something they're doing wrong or purposefully, of course, but I want to learn about foreign culture from the people who have been raised in it and live it every day. I feel that's the only way to take meaningful steps toward true understanding.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jade

    To be honest, I didn't like the book at first. It was a requirement for one of my Japanese cultural classes during my 1st year in college, and I only read it because I had to. I didn't feel anything exciting or interesting from the book... Until I read it again 2 years later. At that time, I had lived in Japan for about 3 years and had some experience with the people and living in Japan. I was able to relate so much more when I read the book. It was like you have some friends whom you have known To be honest, I didn't like the book at first. It was a requirement for one of my Japanese cultural classes during my 1st year in college, and I only read it because I had to. I didn't feel anything exciting or interesting from the book... Until I read it again 2 years later. At that time, I had lived in Japan for about 3 years and had some experience with the people and living in Japan. I was able to relate so much more when I read the book. It was like you have some friends whom you have known for a couple years, and one day you find out their horoscope types which explain part of their personalities and tendency of their behavior. It was exciting! Have you ever noticed your Japanese friends tend to order the same thing at restaurants? Do you know why Japanese people are thought to be "shy"? There must be a reason why they are "shy", right? You will enjoy the book if you have some experience with Japanese cultures.

  19. 5 out of 5

    The Bamboo Traveler

    Excellent book on Japanese culture. It was very informative. It really helped me understand Japanese culture. I particularly liked the fact that it was written by Japanese university students who were majoring in applied linguistics and TEFL. Each individual chapter can stand on its own. There is some repetition of ideas but it didn't bother me. It helped me understand the concepts more clearly and deeply. The writing is kind of formulaic and over relies on transitions for cohesion, which is som Excellent book on Japanese culture. It was very informative. It really helped me understand Japanese culture. I particularly liked the fact that it was written by Japanese university students who were majoring in applied linguistics and TEFL. Each individual chapter can stand on its own. There is some repetition of ideas but it didn't bother me. It helped me understand the concepts more clearly and deeply. The writing is kind of formulaic and over relies on transitions for cohesion, which is sometimes found in second language learner writing. This might be off putting to some people, but as an ESL teacher, I didn't mind it. I think this is a good book if you are planning to study or work in Japan or if you teach Japanese students.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Janita

    This was quite an academic style analysis of basically what makes the Japanese approach to almost everything noticeably different to the eyes of the average Westerner or foreigner. Anyone who ever visits Japan notices a million things each day that intrigue and perplex, and so before we left Japan on our first ever visit I went in search for a book like this because I had and still have so many questions. I found the book very comprehensive, covering every aspect of life. Perhaps it was a little This was quite an academic style analysis of basically what makes the Japanese approach to almost everything noticeably different to the eyes of the average Westerner or foreigner. Anyone who ever visits Japan notices a million things each day that intrigue and perplex, and so before we left Japan on our first ever visit I went in search for a book like this because I had and still have so many questions. I found the book very comprehensive, covering every aspect of life. Perhaps it was a little out of date ( and I was wondering what the average Japanese person would react to its analysis). Either way, it was a helpful read but I am certainly up for another book that is more current on the same subject.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kazia

    A super good introduction for anyone who wants to understand the japanese pattern of behaviour, I bought this book shortly after I made friends with japanese people at school, it was amazing seeing the parallels between what I read in this book and what they did. it helped make me feel less confused and less afraid that I was doing something wrong as a westerner trying to relate to them. It is an easy book to read, reducing very broad topics into concise essays, so Id say this book is best used A super good introduction for anyone who wants to understand the japanese pattern of behaviour, I bought this book shortly after I made friends with japanese people at school, it was amazing seeing the parallels between what I read in this book and what they did. it helped make me feel less confused and less afraid that I was doing something wrong as a westerner trying to relate to them. It is an easy book to read, reducing very broad topics into concise essays, so Id say this book is best used as a starting point. it may not be so interesting to people who have already studied japanese society for some time.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ella Golparvar

    Definitely an eye opener. Japan was always a mysterious place to me and I had many unanswered questions about the society and the culture. After reading the first chapter, I was sure enough that I finally found the right book to guide me through understanding the Japanese mentality. However, you should really be into the topic to enjoy reading such books. At some points I felt this book would suit a good Intro to Japanese culture class at a college level! Specially that each chapter starts with a Definitely an eye opener. Japan was always a mysterious place to me and I had many unanswered questions about the society and the culture. After reading the first chapter, I was sure enough that I finally found the right book to guide me through understanding the Japanese mentality. However, you should really be into the topic to enjoy reading such books. At some points I felt this book would suit a good Intro to Japanese culture class at a college level! Specially that each chapter starts with a Japanese word and its meaning and ends with interesting discussion topics and short A questions. So it might bore the ones who pick it for fun.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Seeing as I have no firsthand experience, having never been to Japan, I can't vouch for the validity of the content. However, it doesn't frame Japanese culture as "foreign" (these essays are written by university students at Ehime University in Matsuyama, Japan) which is a big plus. Though it uses Western conceptions of societal roles as contrasting elements it doesn't place them in a position of supremacy. The varying quality of the essays isn't too broad, but it's definitely noticeable. Seeing as I have no firsthand experience, having never been to Japan, I can't vouch for the validity of the content. However, it doesn't frame Japanese culture as "foreign" (these essays are written by university students at Ehime University in Matsuyama, Japan) which is a big plus. Though it uses Western conceptions of societal roles as contrasting elements it doesn't place them in a position of supremacy. The varying quality of the essays isn't too broad, but it's definitely noticeable.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Filippo Diotalevi

    It's quite an informative read and a good introduction on Japanese culture, but written by students, with all the limitation you would expect. The quality of the essays varies a lot, some are quite childish and superficial, other more detailed. Being essays written by different authors the book lacks of consistence, many topics are repeated or explained multiple times with different level of details. It's quite an informative read and a good introduction on Japanese culture, but written by students, with all the limitation you would expect. The quality of the essays varies a lot, some are quite childish and superficial, other more detailed. Being essays written by different authors the book lacks of consistence, many topics are repeated or explained multiple times with different level of details.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Jones

    A neat compilation of student work on the culture of Japan. It's a good primer for people starting to get interested in Japanese culture, and reinforces a lot of what people that have lived in Japan already know. Still, you get to read about Japan from college students that have lived it their whole lives, and who better to tell you about the ins and outs of the system than them. A neat compilation of student work on the culture of Japan. It's a good primer for people starting to get interested in Japanese culture, and reinforces a lot of what people that have lived in Japan already know. Still, you get to read about Japan from college students that have lived it their whole lives, and who better to tell you about the ins and outs of the system than them.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    I binged borrowed a number of books on Japan in preparation of a 2 week trip there. This book was a pretty crude and reductive rendition of what it means to be "Japanese", to be fair, any 300 page book that attempts to summarized a whole culture will likely be crude and reductive. It was instructive in ways to get a gist of certain ideas like aimai, giri, bushido etc. I binged borrowed a number of books on Japan in preparation of a 2 week trip there. This book was a pretty crude and reductive rendition of what it means to be "Japanese", to be fair, any 300 page book that attempts to summarized a whole culture will likely be crude and reductive. It was instructive in ways to get a gist of certain ideas like aimai, giri, bushido etc.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Mercille

    Informative, concise and refreshing. Borrowed it from a friend before my first trip to Japan and I think people with little to no knowledge of Japan will benefit the most from this collection of essays. In other words, it's a good crash course to understand Japanese history and culture. The text is also divided in each main concept, which makes it highly readable. Informative, concise and refreshing. Borrowed it from a friend before my first trip to Japan and I think people with little to no knowledge of Japan will benefit the most from this collection of essays. In other words, it's a good crash course to understand Japanese history and culture. The text is also divided in each main concept, which makes it highly readable.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anna Hintsyak

    The book provides basic knowledge on Japanese culture. I think its a bit repetitive(however, it was written in introduction that some of the topics will be mentioned a few times in different chapters, as each topic is separate essay written by students). It would be good to include here also themes related to gaming industry in Japan which has a huge impact in Japanese society.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Darcy

    An academic look at different aspects of Japanese culture. Insightful for someone who is traveling or doing business in Japan into the very different way in which Japanese culture and society functions from the west.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    An interesting collection of introductory essays on various philosophical aspects of Japanese culture. The essays were thought provoking, and many of them definitely provided impetus for further investigation on my part.

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