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CompleteMartialArts.com - Dogs and Demons: Tales from the Dark Side of Japan

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Manufacturer: Hill and Wang
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
EAN: 9780809039432
ISBN: 0809039435
Label: Hill and Wang
Manufacturer: Hill and Wang
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 320
Publication Date: 2002-02-10
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Studio: Hill and Wang

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Editorial Reviews:

A surprising assessment of the failures and successes of modern Japan.In Dogs and Demons, Alex Kerr chronicles the many facets of Japan's recent, and chronic, crises -- from the failure of its banks and pension funds to the decline of its once magnificent modern cinema. He is the first to give a full report on the nation's endangered environment -- its seashores lined with concrete, its roads leading to nowhere in the mountains -- as well as its "monument frenzy," the destruction of old cities such as Kyoto and construction of drab new ones, and the attendant collapse of its tourist industry. Kerr writes with humor and passion, for "passion," he says, "is part of the story. Millions of Japanese feel as heartbroken at what is going on as I do. My Japanese friends tell me, 'Please write this -- for us.'"

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Essential for All Japanophiles
Comment: Alex Kerr is a longtime resident of Japan, has published several books on it, is extensively steeped in its history and economics, teaches at its universities and is active in its social and cultural communities. I would not call this being a "bitter partner," as was implicated in a previous review. He wrote the book to call attention to things he thinks are hurting a country he loves very much. As a Japanese-American, myself, I commend Mr. Kerr for trying to preserve things that the Japanese themselves do not think about preserving. The facts he presents are solid and sourced, but where I think people have the most problem with Kerr is his interpretation of the facts. He makes some pretty caustic statements on the current state of malaise in Japanese politics and culture. As a long-time student of Japan and Japanese, I agree with most of what he writes, but people who don't will be very, very upset by his assertions. So, when other reviewers don't like this book, it seems like they're more upset with his views than anything else.

Non-Japanese affiliated with Japan tend to come in flavors as easily discernable as ice cream. There's the anime/culture freak who has never been to Japan, but somehow "knows" all about it because he watches endless episodes of Inuyasha. Next is the bitter guy who ran off to Japan as an expat and had to come back because Japan is not as able to support unqualified "English teachers" as it was during the boom years. There's often a guy who is in Japan currently and, in spite of not knowing more than a smattering of the language, is a self-professed expert on EVERYTHING Japanese. Then, you have guys like Kerr, who have put in decades studying Japanese language, art, customs, culture, history and politics. They've lived in Japan for years, in various circles (not just as "english teachers"), met hundreds of people from all the social strata (not just white boys who meet Japanese women) and spend years observing trends. Kerr is very qualified to write on Japan and Japanese things, but his opinions might not mesh with those of the former groups because he has a different experience set to draw from by nature of his long relationship with Japan.

If you fall into the other groups, Of Dogs and Demons will very likely make you mad.

--"Why, (insert name of anime) never talked about amakudari! "
--"I worked at Nova for a year and only ever met Japanese women aged 18-24, so this book can't hold a candle to MY knowledge of Japan!"
--"I live above a sushi restaurant in Tokyo. I never see any sugi trees!"

But, when you approach the assertions from the angle that Japan needs to face its problems before it can work on solving them, you see that Kerr's intentions are good, even if he can be heavy-handed and repetitious at pounding his points home. So, when you read this book, try to set aside your own preconceived notions of Japan and see where he's coming from while trusting that he DOES have good intentions.

If you can do this, I think you'll find this quite an enjoyable and informative read!

Customer Rating: Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5
Summary: Awefully dated
Comment: In the year 2000, when America was riding high and Japan had reached a new low, this book may have had relevance. I am currently majoring in East Asian Studies, and work very hard. I have read Marius B. Jansen's Making of Modern Japan (Harvard University) among others, so I know a good book when I read it.

This is not it. The criticisms here seem very foolish, rascist, and misplaced. Kerr does nothing to refute challanges to his ideas. For example, he complains that Japan overspends on construction. Could it not be said that America overspends on the military. Now, don't get me wrong I love the United States, but the fact is that each country is unique and has its own sets of strengths and weaknesses.

In summary, Kerr is not a genious for simply attacking a country and culture over and over again. No nation is perfect, and this book is rooted in 'holier than thou' mentality which has perpetuated imperialism and war for centuries.

PLEASE DO NOT READ! I reccomend John Dower's "Embracing Defeat" or maybe "Saving the Sun" if you want to know about corperate Japan.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Great read and very educational
Comment: I am a long time resident in Japan (over 19 years), and have always wondered about the true workings of what goes on in the government and beurocracy here. This book completely opened my eyes to the growing problems here. The Japanese continuously talk about environmentalism while paving over every single bit of nature in urban areas or filling in ocean front. It is a true situation of tatemae and honne. With the true feelings that nature is not what nature made of it, but what "we" made of it.

After reading this book I began to ask some of my Japanese friends about some of the subjects. What I found most freightening is that 100% knew about every topic I brought up, from suginoki to Dams, to Tetora, to landfills, and they all agreed that these were not only bad for the environment, but bad for the economy as well.

I also started to study some other practices like amakudari. I had no idea how endemic and system wide it has become. This is actually one amazing area that every Japanese person I have talked to didn't give me the same answer.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: An important book to read.
Comment: This is one of the few books that take a look at Japan's dark@side. The book starts out very strong. However, it does start to weaken near the end. I felt what he wrote about the school system was a little dated and understated. Although, he did write that a whole book could be written about the problems of the schools. He is right. I have worked many years in the Japanese school system.

He goes those many facets of Japan. He points out what people would over look. I have personally experienced and witnessed a lot of what he describes in this book.

I read many books on Japan before I moved here. Japan seemed like a wonderland. The other books paint a picture of Japan being so much better than everywhere else. If you stay a week or two in a hotel in Tokyo you will have the wonderland feeling. I move here and the dream quickly vanished. Almost everything I read (in other books) was dated, residual or just not really true. If you read this book and another book, you will get a good balance.

I gave this book 5 stars because it is one of the first of its kind. It is not perfect. He does get a little personal and opinionated, that is the good part. This is a man who was and still is passionate about Japan. It breaks his heart how Japan is eating itself alive.

If you wanted a full story on Japan, you should get the book with another book on Japan (a positive book). If you are a "fan boy", you should get this book.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Been here, seen it, lived in it....leaving
Comment: Alex Kerr's book is excellent. I have lived in Japan for 16 years and am leaving now. I have asked many of the same questions he asks and heard many of the same responses. Many well-educated or well-traveled Japanese know that their government in out of control in the hands of anonymous bureaucrats.
I was particularly pleased to see his discussion of education. Having been a displaced college professor and having participated in "Mombusho" (Education Ministry) panels on English education I have seen the guts of what he describes.
His chronicle of environmental devastation at the hands of the Construction Ministry was infuriatingly accurate. Most of my personal "discoveries of natural Japan" that I experienced after just arriving in 1989 and 1990 are gone or obliterated.
Mr. Kerr spoke with a real love of Japan, the Japanese people and culture while describing and cataloguing numerous betrayals and criminal acts by a corrupt bureaucracy on autopilot.
It is the truth. It is emotional. It is a powerful book for those who have born witness to the decline of Japan. For those reviewing and saying that the author is racist or misguided and that Japan is the miracle country the US should try to be... I would highly reccommend living here for 10 years. After about 5 years the veil begins to lift and as your Japanese improves you begin to realize that there are many deep currents running beneath the surface.
Read Karl Van Wolleran's "The Enigma of Japanese Power" also.
I highly reccommend this book.
I pray that the Japanese people will find a way out from under the sway of the unelected, unsupervised bureaucrats many of whom were my students.
I actually taught a MITI guy who participated in the drafting of the "Japanese snow" ruling/incident briefly mentioned by Kerr. MITI, under pressure from Japanese ski equipment manufacturers, actually issued a restriction on the import of Rossignol ski equipment citing the danger to Japanese skiers of using equipment not designed for Japanese snow. My student claimed he objected to the whole thing but that his supervisor was desperately hoping to retire into the ski resort association....Needless to say when the French trade minister pointed out that it might be dangerous for French consumers to drive cars not designed for French asphalt the Japanese bureaucrats relented...immediately. Typical. Like George Bush coming to Tokyo demanding the opening of the Japanese rice market only to travel four days later to Australia to derisive crys of "open the US beef market" from Aussie beef growers.

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