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The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture [Paperback]

Roger Davies , Osamu Ikeno
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: 14.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture + Japan: Its History and Culture  (Japan: Its History & Culture)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (20 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804832951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804832953
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 155,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


In THE JAPANESE MIND, Roger Davies offers Westerners an invaluable key to the unique aspects of Japanese culture. Readers will gain a clear understanding of what really makes the Japanese, and their society, tick. Among the topics explored are: aimai (ambiguity), amae (dependence upon others' benevolence), chinmoku (silence in communication), gambari (perseverance), giri (social obligation), kenkyo (the appearance of modesty), zoto (gift giving), and much more.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Ambiguity, or aimai, is defined as a state in which there is more than one intended meaning, resulting in obscurity, indistinctness, and uncertainty. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars nihonjinron -nothing useful 4 July 2007
I've lived in Japan for 5 years and speak the language fluently and quite frankly this book offers nothing but tired concepts and a trite superficial rehash of nihonjin-ron ideology, pleasant to Japanese right wingers and 'japanologists'.

The section on 'AMAE' offers nothing but direct quotes from Doi who's work, popular in the 1960s, is largly anecdotal and discredited.

Try Peter Dale's 'the myth of Japanese unique-ness' of Sugimoto's excellent 2003 book 'An introduction to Japanese society' which is based on scientific research and fact not silly notions of Japanese as a homogenous borg like organism that can be studied from afar and defined by a few 'key concepts'.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly enlightening... 20 Dec 2003
As a European and ‘general reader’ I found the book gave a fascinating insight into what can at first appear to the layman to be a baffling and unfathomable culture, given extra credence by the fact that, as the introduction states, the information presented is from the perspective of the Japanese people themselves. The format allows for casual study as the chapters can be read in any order you wish.
I would consider this an invaluable guide for anyone visiting Japan and/or who wishes to better understand the complexities of Japanese customs and behaviour. No book could possibly explain all the intricate facets of Japanese society, and certainly not to everyone’s satisfaction, but ‘The Japanese Mind’ goes a long way toward doing so.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Are "the Japanese" so "unique"? 13 Jun 2007
By Snikwas
Readers seeking to gain insight into Japanese lives, rather than read this kind of one-sided nihonjinron (theories of Japaneseness - a kind of propaganda that was fashionable in the 70's but quickly discredited), with its claims to exploring "the uniqueness" of "the Japanese" (what, all of them?), would do better to look at "Understanding Japanese Society" by anthropologist Joy Hendry. Instead of claiming any "uniqueness" for "the Japanese", that book offers a very readable, insightful, and ultimately human (holistic) exploration of the ways in which the various realms of Japanese society (home, school, work, government, ritual, religion, play etc.) function, for various members, at different life stages, from their point of view. Readers of that book will come to see that Japanese ways of thinking make sense in context, and are not so unique after all.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping 7 Nov 2003
This is an amazing book. It really gets to the root of a number of issues relating to Japanese culture. If you plan to visit the country this is a great guide, because it will prevent misunderstandings when faced with cultural differences. The book is written by Japanese students so is modern and informed. Also useful is the fact that the Kanji for each concept is displayed, adding to your word hoard with every chapter.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Limited insight into japanese culture 22 July 2005
By A Customer
I bought this book hoping that it would give a comprehensive, structured commentary into Japanese life and mindset. I was therefore more than a little disappointed to find that it was no more than a set of short essays, which appeared to give only one point of view, and did not seem to give much evidence of in-depth research. The chapters reminded me more of high school essays, where the author doesn't really know much about a subject, and the list of questions at the end of each chapter made the book feel like a text aimed at students studying japanese culture, rather than a complete informative text.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well worth reading 10 Dec 2003
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book as it is very informative but yet in a very accessible way. The information is clear and presented in independent small chapters each related to a concept or an attitude, allowing the reader to select the topic he is interested in. In addition, as it is written jointly by Japanese students and a European citizen, it develops, both from the internal and external points of view, the details and explanations that we need to know in order to better understand behaviour and habits seemingly so remote from ours.
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