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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on Japanese home published to date!
Inge Daniels has produced the BEST BOOK ON CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE HOUSE published to date. It is not only expertly researched, but also written in a very accessible prose. The book is perfect for undergraduate teaching and is already being used at several courses in our department. As a Japan specialist I would recommend this book without reservation as a compulsory...
Published on 6 Jan 2011 by K.J. Cwiertka

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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Such a disappointment
This book by Inge Daniels, University Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Oxford University, should have been a pure pleasure to read. Certainly - given the topic, and given my intense interest in all aspects of Japanese culture - I expected nothing less. But I haven't even managed to finish the first chapter and I don't wish to waste more of my time with this book, because...
Published on 22 Dec 2010 by JGP


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on Japanese home published to date!, 6 Jan 2011
By 
K.J. Cwiertka (Haarlem, Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Japanese House: Material Culture in the Modern Home (Materializing Culture) (Paperback)
Inge Daniels has produced the BEST BOOK ON CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE HOUSE published to date. It is not only expertly researched, but also written in a very accessible prose. The book is perfect for undergraduate teaching and is already being used at several courses in our department. As a Japan specialist I would recommend this book without reservation as a compulsory reading for everyone interested in Japan. Although the book focuses on the home, it tackles many other issues that stand central in contemporary Japanese society, such as religious practices and gift giving.

As Daniels clearly states on page 24, illustrations in her book are not accompanied by captions with a conscious aim of embracing `polysemic nature of visual representations instead of pinning their meanings down with text'. Illustrations in this book tell the story of their own and not merely illustrate the words. And they are all in colour!

All in all, I am convinced that this is one of those books that will withstand the test of time and will be widely used in teaching for decades.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful insight into the Real Japan!, 6 Jan 2011
This review is from: The Japanese House: Material Culture in the Modern Home (Materializing Culture) (Paperback)
As an Architect who has lived and travelled to Japan for 3 decades, I was thrilled to read a book of breadth and depth that both illuminates the complexities of Japanese social practices within the domestic sphere without the all too familiar reversion to exoticism that western authors have been touting for generations.
This is a masterful book written by someone with true and unique insight into a culture which has for far too long been stereotyped beyond legitimate recognition.
This book should be a must-read for architecture and anthropology students who are hungry for the rare knowledge that one would only find through the ethnographic research and observations that Dr Daniels has skilfully managed to illustrate, and is a genuine treat for those who want to know profoundly more about Japanese culture, and seeks to reach far beyond the ubiquitously familiar minimalist "Japanese house."
A gem!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WARNING: This book is not for those who are looking for an exoticised Japan..., 26 Jan 2011
This review is from: The Japanese House: Material Culture in the Modern Home (Materializing Culture) (Paperback)
I utterly enjoyed reading this book!.
As a Designer with a particular interest in all things Japanese, it was a delighted ( and enlightened!)
to understand that there are dimensions to Japanese aesthetics and practices that very few authors have illuminated.
Perhaps very few have not had the facility and the in-depth research methods required to delve far deeper than the well know and stereotypic surface know to the West.
A far more inspirational book, and breath of genuine fresh air from the usual glossy minimalist interior coffee table variety, that we have grown all too accustomed. ( and perhaps tired of!)
This is also a beautifully designed book, where clearly the author and photographer aim to deliver a book which stimulates both hearts and minds.
A rare achievement in that this is written by an academic that strives to communicate more than words can say about this fascinating realm. ( through the inclusion of many sublime photographs)
Equally, a very beautiful photographic essay which reaches far beyond the visual, and takes us on a rich and complex journey exposing the multi-faceted surfaces of domestic Japan.

WARNING:
This book is not for those who are looking for an exoticised Japan explained( you know who you are!) , but for those of you who are genuinely seeking to step through Japan's closed doors and know far more, then I highly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is the future of academic writing!, 3 Feb 2011
This review is from: The Japanese House: Material Culture in the Modern Home (Materializing Culture) (Paperback)
"The Japanese House" is a legitimately compelling and multilayered expose of Japanese culture, which, in memory, i have never known another author to illuminate.

The reasons for the strength of this book is well documented by fellow (positive) reviewers on this site, but I am draw to just add the following:

Dr Daniels has delivered a compelling and accessible read, and takes us on an engaging sensory ride into the lives and homes of people we both connect with and are profoundly curious about.

What is fascinating and unique about this is that the result is a beautiful and creative book with all the academic rigor and research to back it up.

Without intentionally being dismissive to the established body of academic writing, (and i have read and been bored by many) this is a rare epiphany, and paradoxically a renewed credit to the professional body of Anthropology.

To end, and to my complete surprise, this book was penned by a professor of Anthropology at Oxford University no less, and I would like to believe that her achievement demonstrated here represents a new breed of passionate thinkers, able to communicate broadly, clearly, deeply, and beyond the borders bound by Oxbridge.

I sincerely believe that this book represents the future of academics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Clear Ethnography on Japanese Houses, 21 Aug 2011
By 
Ced_Gwynedd (Gwynedd, Wales) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Japanese House: Material Culture in the Modern Home (Materializing Culture) (Paperback)
This book goes into great details about contemporary houses. Japan-lovers beware, though: the book is very clear in stating that it does not describe the wabi-sabi elegant tea houses. The author uses an ethnographic approach, which is very refreshing and the style is clear. One of my top 2 best reads during the academic year 2010-2011.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Such a disappointment, 22 Dec 2010
This review is from: The Japanese House: Material Culture in the Modern Home (Materializing Culture) (Paperback)
This book by Inge Daniels, University Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Oxford University, should have been a pure pleasure to read. Certainly - given the topic, and given my intense interest in all aspects of Japanese culture - I expected nothing less. But I haven't even managed to finish the first chapter and I don't wish to waste more of my time with this book, because finishing it would be an utter chore.

First, given this is a serious academic study (and this is an inherent problem, I think), I am appalled at the number of grammatical errors in the text. I have counted no less than six, and I haven't even finished the first chapter.

Second, in this book, thirty homes (and their contents) in the Osaka area in Japan have been studied over the course of an entire year. The book contains pictures of each house, displayed in a spread over two pages, in a sort of collage, and superimposed over a map of the area in which they are situated. The exact location of each house is made clear on the same map. This is all well and good. But equally useful, if not more so, would have been pictures of the family living in each house and their names. There is nothing to tie the names and faces of the people who participated in this study to their abode. This makes visualization next to impossible, and worse, it makes for very frustrating and confusing reading.

Third, as I mentioned in my first point, this is an academic study. The inherent problem I alluded to in my first point is the style of writing - frequent grammatical errors aside. This book is written in the most dry and tedious prose. There is no way the language used could ever do justice to the wonderfully unique and interesting subject which it attempts to address. Of course there are scores and scores of footnotes and references to other publications. Again, this is no crime and is part and parcel of academic writing. But there is no excuse for the sheer number of footnotes given this is not a tome; and still less excuse is there for including explanations in the footnotes that belong in the main body of text. Numerous footnotes make for very disruptive reading - who likes to flit backwards and forwards the whole time? And so most people (self included) tend to skip them. But if key information regarding the study participants is relegated to explanatory footnotes, then the reader has very little chance of being enlightened and engaged by the main content.

Fourth, and this is the thing that I find perhaps most ridiculous about this book, is that it contains beautiful photographs without captions! In uber-academic mode, the author waffles on about the importance of the image vs its description and issues of objectivity vs subjectivity and how the reader must be left to draw his own conclusions regarding the images contained in the book. What utter nonsense! The reader is already left lurching in the dark due to the lack of easily-accessible information regarding the people studied, and to add insult to injury, the pictures of said people and their homes contain no captions! So what does the reader do? One must refer to a list of the photographs at the back of the book which contain some descriptions. (Thanks so much!)

All of the above points lead me, in conclusion, to wonder who the author's target audience is. Is it other academics, such as her? I am reluctant to believe this is the case, given the book's objective - which the author manages to make clear. She begins her introduction with a quote by a British architect, the gist of which questions the existence of the idealized Japanese house. The author agrees with various architects and academics who maintain that readers of "glossy magazines" have an unrealistic view of what the Japanese house is in reality. So her aim is to educate and to remove these false notions from the imaginations of- who? I draw the conclusion that she doesn't wish to educate her fellow academics, who of course know what's what. So her target audience must be the general reader with a more than ordinary interest in Japanese culture. Like me. I would have been a very willing volunteer to have some of the "illusions" I hold dear regarding the Japanese house dispelled (at least in part). But it would take a book one hundred times better than this one to do that.
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