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Synopsis

In eleven informal essays, The Japanese: a Cultural Portrait explores the character of Japan and its people. Once invariably praised for its "quaint Oriental charm", Japan is now strikingly western in appearance, however in the rush to analyze. Its rapid ascension to world prominence, many Westerners forget that Japanese habits, fears, and values are rooted in centuries of feudal agrarianism.

This book reminds us that although the Japanese are capable of accepting enormous change, they can also be resolutely determined to remain Japanese. Their cultural makeup has not changed as rapidly as the nation's economic landscape. To illustrate these points, various topics are examined: Japan's first encounters with the West; Japanese philosophies of government, law, and ethics; and the way that modern institutions like the bureaucracy and the corporation rely on a strong sense of group affiliation. The Japanese: A Cultural Portrait provides absorbing insight into how modernization has been accomplished without loss of national identity.

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