The Cambridge Companion to Modern Japanese Culture (Cambridge Companions to Culture)

The Cambridge Companion to Modern Japanese Culture (Cambridge Companions to Culture) - This is the book on modern Japanese culture I have been looking for. It is more academic than some of the popular titles (a relief to me because I like to know why, rather than just what), but not so heavy as the really chunky tomes (Yes Cambridge History of Japan, I am talking about you). It is organised into 20 chapters, each is essentially an introductory text concerned with a particular aspect of Japanese culture and each written by a different author (one assumes an expert in that particular field). The sections conform to a similar format – an introduction, main body covering the salient points, a conclusion and list of footnotes with further reading – I may well be spending some time tracking down a few of the further reading articles from the particularly interesting sections.

The over all conclusions are that the homogeneous culture, is in fact a construction of various nationalistic tendencies and this has masked a considerable absorption of immigration and diversity of native peoples. The further importation of 'Western' ideas and technologies has changed Japan in the last 150 years, but without seemingly altering 'Japaneseness', and even enabling Japan to export culture that has been absorbed and re-imagined in a Japanese form.

An extra star has been appended to my rating here for the quality of the artwork on the cover. It is quite beautiful, I wonder if there is a poster of it somewhere...