Books to understand Japanese society

Recommended reading before your next oriental trip
Books-on-places Culture Japan Japanese-society
The Amity Affliction - Pittsburg
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The Anatomy of Dependence

by Takeo Doi

About the book:  A classic study of the Japanese psyche, a starting point for a true understanding Japanese behavior....The discovery that a major concept of human feeling-easily expressed in everyday Japanese- totally resisted translation into a Western language led Dr. Takeo Doi to explore and define an area of the psyche which has previously received little attention. The resulting essay, The Anatomy of Dependence, is one of the most penetrating analyses of the Japanese mind ever written, as well as an important original contribution to psychology which transcends the boundaries of cultures and nations.Published in Japan as Amae no Kozo (The Structure of Amae), Dr. Doi's work is focused upon the word "amae" (indulgence) and its related vocabulary. Expressive of an emotion central to the Japanese experience, "amae" refers to the indulging, passive love which surrounds and supports the individual in a group, whether family, neighborhood, or the world at large. Considering the lack of such words in Western languages, Dr. Doi suggests inherent differences between the two cultures-contrasting the ideal of self-reliance with those of interdependence and the indulgence of weaknesses. Yet, he finds that Western audiences have no difficulty in recognizing and identifying with the emotions he describes, and are even searching for a way to express this need.While there is no doubt that the concept of "amae" is more developed in Japan and the feelings it engenders more profound, Dr. Doi's work is widely recognized as having a universal application. This translation of his most important essay has now been long welcomed as a major contribution-not only as an insight into the Japanese mind, but into the minds of men everywhere.


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Bushido: The Soul of Japan

by Inazo Nitobe

About the book:  Bushido: The Soul of Japan is a work by Inazo Nitobe now brought to you in this new edition of the timeless classic.


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Edo Culture: Daily Life and Diversions in Urban Japan, 1600-1868

by Constantine Nomikos Vaporis

About the book:  Nishiyama Matsunosuke is one of the most important historians of Tokugawa (Edo) popular culture, yet until now his work has never been translated into a Western language. Edo Culture presents a selection of Nishiyama's writings that serves not only to provide an excellent introduction to Tokugawa cultural history but also to fill many gaps in our knowledge of the daily life and diversions of the urban populace of the time. Many essays focus on the most important theme of Nishiyama's work: the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries as a time of appropriation and development of Japan's culture by its urban commoners.


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Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World

by Theodore C. Bestor

About the book:  Located only blocks from Tokyo's glittering Ginza, Tsukiji—the world's largest marketplace for seafood—is a prominent landmark, well known but little understood by most Tokyoites: a supplier for countless fishmongers and sushi chefs, and a popular and fascinating destination for foreign tourists. Early every morning, the worlds of hi-tech and pre-tech trade noisily converge as tens of thousands of tons of seafood from every ocean of the world quickly change hands in Tsukiji's auctions and in the marketplace's hundreds of tiny stalls. In this absorbing firsthand study, Theodore C. Bestor—who has spent a dozen years doing fieldwork at fish markets and fishing ports in Japan, North America, Korea, and Europe—explains the complex social institutions that organize Tsukiji's auctions and the supply lines leading to and from them and illuminates trends of Japan's economic growth, changes in distribution and consumption, and the increasing globalization of the seafood trade. As he brings to life the sights and sounds of the marketplace, he reveals Tsukiji's rich internal culture, its place in Japanese cuisine, and the mercantile traditions that have shaped the marketplace since the early seventeenth century.


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Tokugawa Religion

by Robert N. Bellah

About the book:  Argues that Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shintoism are more responsible for Japan's current economic success than contact with the West, and discusses Japanese religion and culture.


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