The Japan Society Review
The Japan Society Review is published on a bimonthly basis, both online and printed (members are entitled to receive a copy by post). Since the starting of the publication in 2006, each issue covers a selection of Japan-related books and films, as well as theatre and stage productions, tv series and exhibitions. Its purpose is to inform, entertain and encourage readers to explore the works for themselves.
The Japan Society Review is possible thanks to the work of volunteers who dedicated their time and expertise to help us to promote the learning and understanding of Japanese culture and society.
BooksBrokered Homeland: Japanese Brazilian Migrants in Japan
Review by Takahiro Miyao The interactions between Nikkeijin and natives, says Joshua Hotaka Roth, play a significant role in the emergence of an increasingly multicultural Japan. He uses the experiences of Japanese Brazilians in Japan to illuminate the racial, cultural, linguistic, and other criteria groups use to distinguish themselves from one another. Roth's analysis is enriched by on-site observations at festivals, in factories, and in community centers, as well as by interviews with workers, managers, employment brokers, and government officials.
BooksFlyboys: A True Story of Courage
Review by Tomohiko Taniguchi James Bradley's #1 bestseller Flags of Our Fathers made real the humanity and legacy of war as few books had before. Now, in Flyboys, Bradley returns to World War II and an extraordinary-and totally unknown-true story of courage.Over the remote Pacific island of Chichi Jima, nine American flyers-Navy and Marine pilots sent to bomb Japanese communications towers there-were shot down. One of those nine was miraculously rescued by a U.S. Navy submarine. The others were captured by Japanese soldiers on Chichi Jima and held prisoner.Then they disappeared.When the war was over, the American government, along with the Japanese, covered up everything that had happened on Chichi Jima. The records of a top-secret military tribunal were sealed, the lives of the eight Flyboys were erased, and the parents, brothers, sisters, and sweethearts they left behind were left to wonder.Flyboys reveals for the first time ever the extraordinary story of those men.
BooksMulticultural Japan: Palaeolithic to Postmodern
Review by Takahiro Miyao This book challenges the conventional view of Japanese society as monocultural and homogenous. Unique for its historical breadth and interdisciplinary orientation, Multicultural Japan ranges from prehistory to the present, arguing that cultural diversity has always existed in Japan. A timely and provocative discussion of identity politics regarding the question of 'Japaneseness', the book traces the origins of the Japanese, examining Japan's indigenous people and the politics of archaeology, using the latter to link Japan's ancient history with contemporary debates on identity. Also examined are Japan's historical connections with Europe and East and Southeast Asia, ideology, family, culture and past and present.
BooksJapanese Envoys in Britain, 1862-1964: A Century of Diplomatic Exchange
Review by Sean Curtin Commissioned by the Japan Society as the companion volume to British Envoys in Japan, 1959-1972 (2004), this collection of essays on a century of official Japanese representation in the United Kingdom completes the history of bilateral diplomatic relations up to the mid-1960s, concluding with Ambassador Ohno Katsumi’s highly successful six-year assignment in 1964. In all, twelve authors, half of whom are Japanese , contribute to the work.
BooksEnigma of the Emperors: Sacred Subservience in Japanese History
Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi This important new and original study on the institution of the Japanese emperors, from their mythological beginnings to the present day, focuses on the enigma of the institution itself, namely, the extraordinary continuity of the Japanese dynasty, which is unknown anywhere else in the world, yet which is now at risk on account of more recent laws of succession. The prisms through which this remarkable achievement is examined are the notions of divinity, gender and subservience.
BooksBritain and Japan: Biographical Portraits, Volume VI
Review by Janet Hunter This sixth volume in the Britain and Japan series contains a total of thirty-three entries, thoughtfully and painstakingly compiled and edited by Hugh Cortazzi. The volume is divided up thematically and includes an Index of Biographical Portraits published to date by the Japan Society.
BooksGarden Plants of Japan
Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi When the Japan Society were preparing the Garden Bequest Exhibition for Japan 2001, we were conscious of the huge number of trees, shrubs and plants which had originated in Japan and which had become so popular in Britain. We tried without success to find a book in English which covered comprehensively Japanese Garden plants. Horticulturalists and gardeners, interested in shrubs and flowers of Japanese origin, will accordingly welcome this well produced and comprehensive book.
BooksArt and Nature: Healing - Design for health in the UK and Japan
Review by Sandra Lawman Ted Hughes said: "Art is in general the psychological component of the immune system. As the body tries to heal itself from any stress or shock or infection, the corresponding harmonic in consciousness is art." This book not only propounds this philosophy, it also recommends action to improve health architecture in both countries, and the underlying tenet is that a patient's surroundings should make him or her better rather than worse.
BooksTo The Kwai - And Back; War Drawings 1939-1945
Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi In 1939, as an art student, Ronald Searle volunteered for the army. Called up in September, he embarked for Singapore in 1941, where, within a month of his arrival, he was taken as a prisoner of the Japanese. After fourteen months in a prisoner-of-war camp Ronald Searle was sent north, to work camp on the Burma Star. In May 1944 he was sent to the notorious Changi Gaol in Singapore and was one of the few British soldiers to survive imprisonment there. Throughout his captivity, despite the risk, Ronald Searle made drawings, determinded to record his experiences. He drew his fellow prisoners, and their Japanese guards and he recorded historic moments; the Japanese triumphantly entering Singapore, the planes dropping leaflets that announced the end of the war. The drawings in this remarkable book were hidden by Searle and smuggled from place to place, stained with the sweat and dirt of his captivity. They are a record of one man's war, and are among the most important, and moving, accounts of the Second World War. They document the sacrifice of those who served in the Far East and are testimony to Ronald Searle's unique talent.
BooksA Reader in Edo Period Travel
Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi Largely ignored hitherto by Western scholars, Plutschow's Edo Period Travel provides the first in-depth study of the subject which is centred on fifteen of the period's most notable travellers, some of whom are well known in other fields - as intellectuals, artists, poets, folklorists and natural scientists , for example - but rarely, if at all, as travellers. This important research on how the Japanese discovered their own country and cultural identity has considerable interdisciplinary appeal. Of particular interest also is the author's discussion on the nature of this new travel writing and the self-centred observation and 'seeing' that developed in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, he calls the 'Japanese Enlightenment'.