- Paperback: 335 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (Trade); Reprinted edition edition (1 Nov. 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0395500753
- ISBN-13: 978-0395500750
- Product Dimensions: 21 x 14.2 x 2.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 284,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture Paperback – 1 Nov 1988
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Top Customer Reviews
She begins by discussing the aims of her assignment and follows with something on the Japanese behaviour in the Second World War. She asks the fundamental question "What drove the Japanese?". This question essentially guides the rest of her work. The third chapter talks of "One's Proper Station"; one of the guiding principles of Japanese society - everyone has their own places. This deals with some Japanese history: the nature of social structure and popular consent vs strife in the Nobility (the Shogun and the Daimyo).
She moves on to discuss the Meiji Reforms and their impact on Japanese history in the early 20th century and the run-up to the war. Chapters 5,6,7 and 8 are perhaps the most important chapters in the book and deal with Japanese concepts of "honour". She discusses the term "honour" within all Japanese contexts and situations and how different the Japanese concept of honour (and its development) is from the Western World and, indeed, the rest of the world. Her discussion of "On" and "Giri" is vital to the understanding of Japanese culture and the is the locomotive of most of their history.
Most of the rest of the book deals with the other elements of Japanese culture within the context of "honour". She deals with child-rearing and matters of love. This part of the book dishes out some of the most interesting aspects of Chinese society and often parts which we do not think of with Japan.Read more ›
It was one of the first thorough studies of the Japanese people and despite being dated and in many cases misleading it covers some very important aspects of Japanese culture such as guilt culture. This book contributed to the over the top viewing of things such as honour and Emperor loyalty has possibly led to the misinterpretation of much wartime action. Such as the kamikaze pilots as mindless Emperor fanatics dying for their honour, as opposed to men sent out to sea in planes with only enough fuel for a one way journey, killed if they returned. Writing poems about how they don't want to die. This all adds up to an easy misleading picture.
However, despite this, this study was one of the first major studies carried out and provides a huge insight. More than two million copies of the book have been sold in Japan and the Japanese find it a fascinating insight into their own culture from a completely outside perspective.
Despite it being somewhat dated it contributes a lot to understanding the American view of the Japanese during the war, and why the view of all Japanese as completely fanatical during the war persists. I studied Japanese history and culture (and language) at university and literally no Japanese course is complete without this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It would be churlish to rate one of the most important books ever written with anything less than 5 stars.Published on 5 Dec. 2012 by Neil Holland
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