Modern Japanese Society

Modern Japanese Society - 1 Modern Japanese Society Volume...

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Unformatted text preview: 1 Modern Japanese Society Volume 1 Series for Comparative Societies by Harold R. Kerbo and John A. McKinstry California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo New York:McGraw-Hill, 1998 2 Author's Preface Japan has always seemed a puzzle to most Americans and other westerners. Japan is so modern, so industrialized, and yet, some how so different. The countries of North America and Europe have their differences of course, as shown clearly in some of the other volumes in this Series for Comparative Societies . But after working and living for several months in a European country such as Germany, it starts to feel more like home, the people in general become rather predictable and familiar to you, and eventually you can go about your daily routine without thinking much of being in a different country. Not so in Japan. After living and working for many months in Japan you might think you have a routine, you might get through most of a day without thinking much about being in a foreign country, but then it hits you: every day something seems to happen, or you see something, which makes you sit back and think, to wonder why the people do things so differently. Since westerners had their first extensive contact with Japan they have been writing about the "exotic" Japanese people. Japan was not even known to exist among Europeans until the accounts of Marco Polo described "Chipangu," an island full of "idolaters" with "great amounts of gold" (Massarella 1990:13). The first account in English that Japan existed came in 1577 with Richard Willie's The History of Travayle in the West and East Indies (Massarella 1990:65). As we will see, it was not long after this that the new Tokugawa Shogun (military rulers) closed the country to foreigners in the 1630s, restricting foreign contacts to a small island off the coast near Nagasaki. From this time until the forced opening of Japan in 1853 the primary accounts of Japan came from a Dutch merchant having contact with the Japanese on what came to be called the "Dutch Island." By the late 1800s the West was getting somewhat more inside information about the Japanese culture and society from writers such as Lafcadio Hearn, an American journalist who had fallen in love with Japan, moved there permanently in 1890, and became the first Westerner allowed to take Japanese citizenship (Rosenstone 1988). In books such as Kokoro: Hints and Echoes of the Japanese Inner Life, Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, Exotics and Retrospectives, and In Ghostly Japan, Hearn tells of the "real" Japan which is often "mysterious and strange" to the Western civilization. By the early 1900s when one of our sociological masters, Max Weber, was writing, there was at least some material on the Japanese society published in German, French, and English. Not only had Japan recently began extensive contact with the West, but Japan was recognized as one of the emerging economic and 3 military powers in Asia, especially after they defeated Russia in...
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Modern Japanese Society - 1 Modern Japanese Society Volume...

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