THROUGH JAPANESE EYES: Vol II by Richard -- Ed. Minear


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Traditional Japan has not been slighted here, but Minear definitely emphasizes the pervasiveness of modernity and the similarities between Japan and other highly industrialized nations. A Life magazine story on industrialist Honda Soichiro is balanced by character studies of traditional samurai and merchants and there are well chosen excerpts on the Japanese view of nature and Zen meditation and an extensive wartime correspondence between a mother and her troubled highschool age son. However, pollution, the new affluence and the problems of overcrowding dominate the non-fiction articles while the selected fiction reflects the fear of assembly line conformity, culture shock and (in terms that are as much universal as specifically Japanese) the problems of ""liberated"" marriage. Minear concludes with a section on Japanese Americans and their experiences in World War II detention camps; useful as this is, the same space might have more effectively devoted to surveying the Japanese left, exploring the significance of Mishima's writings and suicide, or to any number of aspects of the arts, literature or economics. From a broad spectrum of available materials, Minear has selected those which least complicate his thesis but at least the selections (many written by Japanese specifically for western readers) and the introductory commentary do build upon each other to clarify some aspects of contemporary Japan -- a far more productive and mature approach than the haphazard montage of We the Japanese (KR, 1972).

Pub Date: March 1st, 1974
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Praeger