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CompleteMartialArts.com - The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Culture


List Price: $14.95
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Manufacturer: Charles E Tuttle Co
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 3.5/5Average rating of 3.5/5Average rating of 3.5/5Average rating of 3.5/5Average rating of 3.5/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 952.033
EAN: 9780804832953
ISBN: 0804832951
Label: Charles E Tuttle Co
Manufacturer: Charles E Tuttle Co
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 270
Publication Date: 2002-03-15
Publisher: Charles E Tuttle Co
Studio: Charles E Tuttle Co

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Editorial Reviews:

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.



Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5
Summary: Gosh, those inscrutable Japanese!
Comment: This is yet another one of these 'Guides to Japaneseness' that continue to enjoy widespread support -- usually from people who will be spending no more than two or three years in that country. The academic backgrounds of the authors -- both are, in essence, ESL teachers (or 'applied linguists' to use the word of the day -- should give you a good idea of what their agenda is.

It's not that this book is not helpful -- if you really need to have a pundit explain to you why Japanese people like to give gifts, or that it's ok to slurp your ramen noodles, or that 'saving face' is a leftover ideal of Feudal social rules . . . well, feel free to sit at the feet of these economy class pundits. But, honestly, there are many books that cover the same stuff as this book, in far better detail. Boye De Mente's "Japanese Cultural Code Words" was a more informative and exhaustive read, and I suspect these authors borrowed significantly from him, and his methodology. But do you really, really need somebody to tell you what 'Japanese' people are like? I mean, these books read like those WWII American service manuals about Iraq or France: "The French are a winedrinking nation . . ."

The discussion exercises, obviously intended for the classroom, are hilarious in their imploring tones: "Japanese people don't like . . ." or "It is often said that Japanese people . . ." or "imagine you're a Japanese businessman whose senior has just . . ." To give you a sense of the kind of audience this book is getting . . . a 3rd year course on Japanese literature (taught in the English Department, of all places) used this book as its 'cultural component'. I suppose that, as a primer, it could be helpful. But more likely I think the text was used to buff up the insider's credentials of the professor, whose own linguistic skills in Japanese were non-existent, and whose template for 'Japaneseness' was about as formulaic as the ones found in this book. In short, these kinds of works give you the illusive quality of 'immersion' without having to really talk to people.
The authors should be taken down to a hip-hop bar in Osaka for a while. I'd recommend Ian Condry's excellent book 'Hip-Hop Japan' for a real antidote to the Meiji-era slop these authors are distilling.

Here's an idea: spend your money on 'The Rough Guide to Japan', which has just as much information on etiquette and customs without the academic dross. Save your money and invite a Japanese friend out for food or drinks: you'll get more insight than this didactic volume will offer.

I don't know what it is about Japan that publishers continue to push out these 'insider's guides' and 'secrets of the Japanese psyche' type guff. I could only imagine the response if you read a Japanese visitor's experiences of child beauty pageants, post-Katrina 'rescue' operations, and the ration of money spent on bullets as compared to beds . . . does that define the 'American mind'? Of course not.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: A fundamental book...
Comment: This is a fundamental book if you have to deal with japanese people, but even if you don't. Learn the right interpretation of their feelings. A cult.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Only an introduction, but a pretty good one
Comment: Both editors are professors at Ehime University in Matsuyama, both working in fields relating to England language education, and they have put together a collection of twenty-eight relatively brief essays -- all written by fourth-year students and then polished with the help of the faculty -- on such key attitudes, patterns of behavior, traditions, and social underpinnings. These include group consciousness, the Japanese and ambiguity, personal space, childrearing, the Japanese sense of beauty, male/female relationships, seniority, and other topics that often are puzzling to Westerners. The writing is uniformly clear, even when explaining complex concepts, and there's a detailed bibliography (much of it to works in Japanese, however). A very informative resource for any American trying to figure out the Japanese.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: academic in nature
Comment: This book is well written. It was written to be used in a class room setting (the book states this) If I would have know I wouldn't have purchased it. I was looking for a more personal,engaging insight on the way of life in Japan. The book is laid out nicely and still a good read, just a bit too text like.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Well-written, literate, useful...
Comment: My wife and I found this book very helpful, prior to our first trip to Japan. We have been somewhat fearful of this trip, because of langugage and obvious cultural differences. Nevertheless, this book added to our understanding of current cultural traits, ideas, and ideals in Japan; their historical origins; their meaning to both Japanese and first-visit foreigners; and the countervailing Western forces eroding at the "pure strain" traits or ideals. All in all, this book is a fascinating synopsis of Japanese thinking about unique Japanese traits.

We also liked the fact that at the end of each brief chapter, the editors have written a number of thought-provoking questions. These questions ask the reader to expand one's thinking and make clear cross-cultural distinctions. Besides making the book even more useful to persons like us, these questions also make this book a sure winner in any advanced high school or college class on Japan.


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