Monday, April 5, 2010

Books on Japan

This list features recent additions to our selection of books on Japan:
  • Young Women in Japan: Transitions to Adulthood by Kaori H. Okano. This book examines young women in Japan, focusing in particular on their transitions to adulthood, their conceptions of adulthood and relations with Japanese society more generally. Drawing on detailed primary research including a year-long observation of high schools and subsequent interviews over a 12 year period, it traces the experiences of a group of working class women from their last year of high-schooling in 1989 through to 2001 as they approached their thirties. It considers important aspects of the transition to adulthood including employment, marriage, divorce, childbirth and custody. It shows how the role and identities of young women changed over the course of the 1990s, exploring the impact of changes within Japanese society and global forces, and explains fully the implications for ordinary young people and their everyday lives. It considers to what extent young women's perceptions of themselves and society are shifting, and how far this can be explained by external constraints and their own experiences and decisions.
  • Living Japan: Essays on Everyday Life in Contemporary Japan edited by Harumi Kimura. Edited and introduced by the distinguished best-selling author Harumi Kimura (winner of the Ohya non-fiction prize for her book Letters from Twilight London), the book's objective is to make 'Japan' more accessible to the non-specialist general reader and provide a counter-balance to Western media images and reporting as well as conventional academic theory and observation about modern Japanese society. By definition, it also offers an invaluable primary source for scholarly reference.
  • The Little Book of Kawaii by Shawn Wright. The Little book of Kawaii is dedicated to all things "kawaii" (Japanese for "cute").This new title will show through full-page illustrations the Japanese subculture that has found its way into the designs and hearts of artists and people all over the globe. It covers "kawaii noir" the dark and sexy side of this exciting subject, as well as food, fashion, toys, characters and pixel art. This book contains no text.
  • Japan's Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shinto Ultranationalism by Watlter Skya. Japan's Holy War reveals how a radical religious ideology - a fervent nationalism within State Shinto - drove the Japanese to imperial expansion and war in Asia and the Pacific. In the early twentieth century, a fervent nationalism developed within State Shinto. Skya documents this transformation in the ideology of State Shinto as support for the theory of constitutional monarchy gave way first to the theory of absolute monarchy, and then to the ideology of emperor-centred totalitarianism. Skya suggests that the creeping democracy and secularisation of Japan's early-twentieth-century political order were the principal causes of the terrorism of the 1930s, which ultimately led to a holy war against Western civilisation. With notes, bibliography and index.
  • Beyond Golden Clouds: Japanese Screens from the Art Institute of Chicago and the Saint Louis Art Museum edited by Janice Katz. Japanese folding screens are treasures within any museum's collection and are beloved by the general public. This beautiful publication brings together the very finest screens from the world-renowned collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Saint Louis Art Museum. The featured works range from an extraordinary pair of landscapes by Sesson Shukei, a Zen-Buddhist monk-painter of the late 16th century, to daring contemporary works from the late 20th century. The first half of the Edo period (1615-1868) is especially well represented, with a dozen screens from the 17th century by such masters as Kano Koi and Tosa Mitsuoki. The contemporary scene is also well covered, with ten examples from the 20th century - proving the longevity of this art form and its currency among modern-day artists. Enlightening essays by important scholars in the field cover topics like the emergence of screens as an art form and a novel discussion of the relationship of Japanese screens to those made in other countries.
  • Stories from a Tearoom Window: Lore and Legends of the Japanese Tea Ceremony by Shigenori Chikamatsu, and translated by Kozaburo Mori. The Japanese tea ceremony blends art with nature and has for centuries brought harmony to the daily life of its practitioners. In the 18th century, the warrior Shigenori Chikamatsu set down scores of legends and anecdotes and bits of lore and history to express the essence of the tea ceremony for the edification of tea connoisseurs. In this volume, Shigenori's classic collection is translated into English for the first time. Over 50 black-and-white illustrations complement the text.

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