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Japan Through the Looking Glass Paperback – February 1, 2009
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A disarming, engaging, and provocative book.”Andrew Barshay, University of California, Berkeley
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Top Customer Reviews
The main theme of Japan Through the Looking Glass is that nothing seems quite as it first appears in Japanese culture; indeed, even upon closer examination, paradoxes and uncertainties abound. As Macfarlane notes, many outward similarities exist with Great Britain. Both are island nations, both have a feudal history, both have a long history of a strong work ethic, and both were the first to industrialize in their regions. But as Macfarlane points out, despite the similarities, westerners have a continuing challenge in understanding how Japan works.
For instance, Japan has a mix of individualism and status relationships. It is a modern (often hyper-modern) capitalist society, yet the profit motive is not glorified. Individuals in the sense of Western individualism don’t exist. Instead, people are defined by relationships.Read more ›
However, one gets the impression that the author is romanticising Japan. The overall impression of Japan that he conveys is positive at best and neutral at worst. He often gives a general statement or observation about the country, which is fine. The problem I have with his approach is two-fold: firstly, the way in which he depicts this observation is frequently one-sided; secondly, his observations do not always strike me as painting the full picture of Japan. For the first point, I cannot say for sure whether it is because the author is consciously romanticising Japan, or whether he is just being generous by trying to find explanations for why the Japanese have such-and-such a characteristic. With regards to the second point, I personally feel that it is as though his materials were deliberately selected to portray the Japanese in a sympathetic light. However, as this book appears to be, simply, an account of his experiences, perhaps it was just the result of the way his personal journey played out for him. That I do not know.
Another criticism I have about this book is that the author makes certain claims based on wrong assumptions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A little too superficial. I would have much preferred a clearer discussion of actual beliefs, rather than what I got.Published on February 14, 2014 by georgepugh
There are many books telling us why Japanese are like they are and why they have become like they are. Read morePublished on October 30, 2010 by Jackal