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Download The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture (Encyclopedias of Contemporary Culture) epub

by Sandra Buckley

With more than 700 alphabetically arranged entries, The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture offers extensive coverage of Japanese culture spanning from the end of the Japanese Imperialist period in 1945, right up to the present day. Entries range from shorter definitions, histories or biographies to longer overview essays giving an in-depth treatment of major issues. Culture is defined in its broadest sense to allow for coverage of the diversity of practice and production in a country as vibrant and rapidly changing as Japan.

Including a new preface by the editor to bring the book fully up-to-date with cultural developments since 2001, this Encyclopedia will be an invaluable reference tool for students of Japanese and Asian Studies, as well as providing a fascinating insight into Japanese culture for the general reader.

Download The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture (Encyclopedias of Contemporary Culture) epub
ISBN: 041548152X
ISBN13: 978-0415481526
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Author: Sandra Buckley
Language: English
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (December 16, 2001)
Pages: 672 pages
ePUB size: 1533 kb
FB2 size: 1274 kb
Rating: 4.7
Votes: 955
Other Formats: azw lrf mobi txt

This is not a review of the book, I'm concerned that the Kindle edition is three times the price of the paperback which is $80.
Why the difference? I have noticed similar price gouging in the history section for a lot of books I'd otherwise buy on Kindle.
Seems there's a pattern going on here. The mass market novels are cheap (as well they should be) but anything of substance is being priced into the stratosphere. Anyone else see this happening?
I didn't like this book very much. Here are a few reasons:

1. Book was first published in 2001 so I would not call it a book about contemporary culture. The controversy over the Narita Airport in the 1970s does not deserve a separate entity for instance. Similarly, one can question many entries. Like the obscure left-wing entries instead, like Hihyou kuukan, which just shows that some of the contributors have no scruples.

2. The A-Z approach means that you do not get any deeper understanding of anything. Many of the entries are very basic - very few are longer than one page. We are told that sushi is raw fish and should be turned over when dipped in the soya. We don't get anything about the cultural significance about sushi for instance. The sections on food and economy are especially shallow. The sections of film and literature seems more detailed. Many entries are good, but overall they are massively uneven.

3. It is an edited volume and the contributors are mostly Anglo-Saxon, based outside Japan. Their information will not really be that up to date.

4. The writing style is pretty dry. It is not overly politically correct but it also doesn't take any risks. I also feel that some sensitive topics have been avoided, e.g. Japanese nationalism.

5. None of the information presented is supported by facts or data. We are just told things and have to take it at face value that the entry is important. Hardly ever does not author explain why an entry is included, e.g. the Hihyou kuukan entry.

Still the book deserves two stars because there is some interesting information in it. Here is a much better book The Cambridge Companion to Modern Japanese Culture (Cambridge Companions to Culture) (which also is much cheaper)
I don't think this book actually has any interesting facts in it.

It does manage to omit enormous gobs of information in about every subject it covers, sometimes even the crucial facts about a subject: for example, pachinko is described as "an important industry" for Japan, and a paragraph is devoted to recent developments in pachinko marketing, but there is nary a word about why it is the only legal form of gambling or who runs it.

It also contains outright inaccuracies: the entry on "weddings" describes only shrine weddings, with the overtone that Japan is "Shinto"-- this is absurd, since Japanese weddings were traditionally civil ceremonies, and weddings officiated at a shrine were invented in the late 1910s, in order to COUNTER the popularization of Western-style weddings officiated at an interfaith chapel, which remain a majority today.

Finally, many of its writers seem to have a nasty ideological agenda, as if the point of writing a book about Japanese culture was to critique it and argue that all culture is evil. Even the essay on wrapping paper manages to describe it as wasteful and anti-environmentalist.

The subjects of essays in this "encyclopedia" are utterly arbitrary and do not constitute an encyclopedia by any reasonable definition-- for example, there's an essay on zaibatsu dissolution (a GHQ program run from 1945-1947), and there's an article about "gay male identity", but there's no article on Hayao Miyazaki.

What an utterly stupid book.
One of this book's greatest values is that it is not merely an encyclopedia of Japanese *pop* culture. While it does cover music, film, TV and comics, it also looks at more traditional aspects of Japan in the modern world, including kabuki and noh, fishing and fireworks. These are often neglected by modern researchers, or confined to hermetically-sealed specialisations -- their inclusion here imparts Buckley's book with considerable endurability.
Popular culture often attracts the wrong sort of writer -- virgin territory may be a fertile ground for pioneers and innovators, but also for charlatans and ne'er-do-wells. Japanese popular culture has been lucky in the past, with excellent researchers like Schodt, Schilling, Powers and Kato, but also a large number of self-appointed pundits. This book, luckily, falls into the former camp more often that not.
The first thing anyone does with an Encyclopedia is look up stuff they already know -- often an unfair test of the editor's broader achievement. The first places I checked contained several minor typographical errors; Yurusei Yatsura for Urusei Yatsura, Ikeda Ryoko for Ikeda Riyoko, and the wrong release date for Neon Genesis Evangelion. The entry for Murakami Haruki notably points out that A Wild Sheep Chase was the third in a four-book series, but seems, presumably at the editing stage, to have accidentally assigned the first book, Hear the Wind Sing, as the umbrella title for the whole. But these errors can all easily be altered on a reprinting, and the size of the book makes it likely that print-runs are small, and that by the time you read these words, such minor problems will have already been fixed.
The general thrust of the articles remains objective and critical in the best sense of both words. For a Japanese scholar, this is a book that demands to be read from cover to cover, not just because you only realise what you *don't* known when you stumble across it, but also because the filing system mixes English and Japanese words with impunity. Bathing is filed under "Ofuro", but "Ikebana" is filed under Flower Arranging; luckily an index helps sort this out. Some of the choices for inclusion are also a little baffling. While it is noble to include an entry pointing out that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is *not* a Japanese product, the entry occupies the same word-count as that for the entire 40-year run of Ultraman.
With "only" 634 pages to play with (trust me, they fill up fast), the book sensibly points readers towards more in-depth studies. You may not get all the answers you want from an entry, but in most cases, you can close this book with a better idea of where you should look next. The suggestions for further reading (included in almost every entry) are an excellent addition for researchers, though occasionally of debatable provenance. The entry on pornography, for example, cites a single essay as a resource (the editor's own), but not more comprehensive works such as Japan's Sex Trade, Permitted & Prohibited Desires or, frankly, The Erotic Anime Movie Guide.
It is important to consider the ... price ... in context. When buying something of this weight, I tell myself if it costs as much as ten lesser books, it should do the work of twenty. This is certainly true in this case. I have no choice but to award this book the full five-star rating Amazon allows, since whatever niggles I may have, it is still an informative tome, liable to occupy me for considerably longer than many of its lesser brethren.