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An Anthropologist in Japan: Glimpses of Life in the Field (The ASA Research Methods) [Paperback]

Joy Hendry

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Book Description

4 Feb 1999 0415195748 978-0415195744
In this highly personal account Joy Hendry relates her experiences of fieldwork in a Japanese town and reveals a fascinating cross-section of Japanese life. She sets out on a study of politeness but a variety of unpredictable events including a volcanic eruption, a suicide and her son's involvement with the family of a poweful local gangster, begin to alter the direction of her research. The book demonstrates the role of chance in the acquisition of anthropological knowledge and demonstrates how moments of insight can be embedded in everyday activity. An Anthropologist in Japan illuminates the education system, religious beliefs, politics, the family and the neighbourhood in modern Japan.

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Toyama lies almost at the tip of the Boso Peninsula, a few degrees inside sub-tropical latitudes. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hendry in personal narrative 1 Mar 2001
By MS ME HUGHES - Published on
Joy Hendry's book, An Anthropologist in Japan, is a personal narrative o the authour's nine months of field work in 'Toyama' on the Boso peninsula. She states that her primary research interest in Japan is in the 'wrapping culture', and whereas in previous books she concentrated on the wrapping of gifts, she is now goes on to be observe 'speech levels', and as the field work progresses, she concentrates on the wrapping of of language with words, in the art of kiego. Unlike her previous works, this book gives the reader more of a glimse of the anthropologist herself and how fieldwork in a modern Japanese community is conducted. She has experiances with the housewife circle, childrens schooling and ceremonies, but also shares her experiances of her run-in's with the Yakuza, the mentally ill and a couple of esoteric artists. Although this book would be classified as an anthropological ethnography, it's enjoyability is definately not limited to those in academia, I used it to support an essay on polite language, then my retired mother borrowed it and found it very entertaining and informative. I would recommend this book to anyone who has visited Japan, is planning to work or visit in Japan, or who just has a healthy interest in the subject.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Part Travelogue, Part Case Study... 22 Jun 2002
By Carl Malmstrom - Published on
As Hendry points out in the afterword, it is becoming more and more common in anthropology today to ground your observations and anecdotes in personal experience to give the reader the ability to judge your work based on your deductions. This, however, is the first time that I have seen an anthropologist turn his or her work into what is essentially a "My Year in Japan" book. Previously mainly the realm of travel writers and JET participants, her work shows her year - and her methodology - through the eyes of someone formally trained to observe Japan.
As an exercise is research methods, this makes for a fascinating book. As an anthropology student studying Japan, I find it fascinating to study other people's approaches to the same thing. As a future researcher, I found the back-door into her creative process and her perspective on Japan to have interesting similarities and differences to mine. As someone with a continual curiosity about Japan, I found her observations on politeness and wrapping in Japanese society to have interesting and far-reaching implications for the way Westerners view Japan.
However, while her actual work on politeness and wrapping in Japanese society becomes something that she discusses researching and discovering, she never presents her finalized work. It would have been nice to see an article or two produced from her research added as an appendix to give the anthropologists reading the book a sense of how her creative process was synthesized into a final product.
This means that ultimately, I have to look at the book as a travelogue, too, since she seems to be casting a net for a wider audience here. In this, it comes up as well researched, but a little wanting as well. It is clear that her time in Japan is well spent, but she never dives into anything completely. In most cases, it is because her reason for being there is her research, and that is what gets her primary focus. However, she never seems to fully jump into her research for fear of losing the nonacademic reader. Even a little more frustrating from both points of view is that she frequently foreshadows important points in the beginning of the book (her eventual meetings with local temple priests and yakuza, for instance), while ultimately rushing through the encounters at the end of the book.
In the end, this book is left fishing for an audience. It seems to ultimately be most useful for the person studying methodology or the creative process. It is still a fascinating book - Hendry's extrapolation of the verbal and physical wrapping of Japanese culture is a point that should be discussed in greater depth by anthropologists today. Likewise, her narrative, if occasionally frustrating, is certainly enjoyable and comes from an apparently unique travelogue perspective. I would certainly recommend it unreservedly to the student studying Japan or anthropology. I might be a little more reticent on recommending it to the travel reader, though.
4.0 out of 5 stars A amazing book on Japan... 27 Aug 2009
By Michael Valdivielso - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Joy Hendry is just what it says - glimpses of the life in the field as she studies a village in Japan. Part study and diary it is full of insight and information about Japan yet is a small book, about 160 so pages long. You could finish it in a day if you wanted. Dealing with everything from funerals to festivals, from the tea ceremony to tennis, she gives us some interesting views of Japanese society, many brought about by happy, or sometimes unhappy, accidents.
A must for any library on Japan or anthropology.
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