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Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe: How an American Acrobat Introduced Circus to Japan--and Japan to the West Hardcover – December 4, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"There have been some intriguing biographies of seminal Japanese cultural figures in recent years….Schodt’s work on the audacious and brilliant Professor Risley takes its place among these fine works." – Kyoto Journal, Dec. 2014

"[A] fascinating narrative . . . In chronicling Risley's checkered and colorful career, Schodt illuminates the rivalries and precariousness of the circus business and portrays vividly this early encounter between Japan and the West." (Recommended for all readers). —Choice, April 2013

"An intriguing look at international relations, culture, the circus, and its effects on the modern day, 'Professor Risley' is a must for anyone seeking an original and offbeat take on history, highly recommended."—Midwest Book Review

"Pick up Schodt's latest book and move well beyond a study of Japanese culture. Schodt takes us all around the world of 19th-century entertainment: the competition, the disdain, the copycats and the triumphs. It's a captivating story about a pioneer in international entertainment."—The Japan Times

"If you have any interest in Japanese history -- whatsoever -- pick up this book. Schodt knocked this title out of the park. It's a real page-turner, and that's saying a lot when dealing with a history book."— Japanator blog

About the Author

Frederik L. Schodt: Frederik L. Schodt is a translator and author of numerous books about Japan, including The Astro-Boy Essays, Dreamland Japan, Native American in the Land of the Shogun, and The Four Immigrants Manga. He often served as Osamu Tezuka’s English interpreter. In 2009 he received the The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette for his contribution to the introduction and promotion of Japanese contemporary popular culture.

Frederik L. Schodt is an award-winning author of multiple books on the interplay of Japanese and American culture, with an emphasis on popular culture and on unique individuals who have made unusual cross-cultural contributions.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Stone Bridge Press (December 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611720095
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611720099
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,054,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe: How an American Acrobat Introduced Circus to Japan--and Japan to the West was written by Frederik L. Schodt and published by Stone Bridge Press in 2012. It is Schodt's seventh book dealing with Japanese culture and history. I am primarily familiar with Schodt's work as a manga and anime scholar and translator, but as can be seen with Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe and several of his other books, his knowledge and interests extend to other subject areas as well. I first learned about Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe because I follow Schodt's work in general. I was interested in reading the book for that reason, but also because I happen to have an interest in Japanese history as well as in the performing arts.

After a brief preface explaining how he came to write the book, Schodt launches into the main text of Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe. The first chapter, or "act," is appropriately titled "Setting the Stage" and provides the necessary background and historical context for the book. The next three acts--"The Risley Act," "Going for Gold," and "Into Asia"--explore the life of Professor Risley, the stage name of American showman Richard Risley Carlisle. Acts five through nine--"Yokohama, Japan," "Taking America," "At the Exposition," "The Long Way to London," and "The Matter of the Contract"--follow the formation of the Imperial Japanese Troupe and their nearly two-and-a- half-year tour of seven countries: the United States, France, England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal. Act ten, "Final Acts" traces the end of Professor Risley and the troupe and their lasting influence. The book is completed with an afterword, notes, select bibliography, and a thorough index.
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Format: Hardcover
Frederik Schodt's books are always a treat to read, deeply researched yet engagingly written. This detailed and actually quite moving account of "Professor" Risley, a 19th century performer-adventurer, sheds light on a group of talented individuals who have remained in the shadows for far too long. Risley's troupe represented the first time many Americans and Europeans ever saw Japanese people or heard Japanese music, and it is a shame that their contributions have been forgotten for so long. This book is an absolutely fascinating window into a little-known chapter from the very beginnings of the relationship between the US and Japan.
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By FHG on December 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
...and Schodt rocks too! This book will enchant you beyond belief. It's the kind of book you need to tumble across, because you would never look for it since it would never occur to you that such a story is out there. Late 1900s: an American acrobat/businessman/crook decides that it is time for San Franciscans to be exposed to Japanese acrobatics....and unleashes a world-wide fad for Japanese circus, creates global celebrities, wins it all, loses it all...where is the Hollywood movie??? Schodt really has an unusual gift for telling a meticulously researched piece of forgotten history in a jargon-free narrative that is funny, enlightening, and leaves you to crave for more. Highly recommended, for anyone interested in Japan's early encounters with the West, the West's early encounters with Japan, the history of American pop-culture, or just about anyone interested in a darn good read!
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