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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.

Britain and Japan: Biographical Portraits, Volume VI

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Britain 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.

Garden Plants of Japan

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Garden 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.

Art and Nature: Healing - Design for health in the UK and Japan

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Art 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.

To The Kwai - And Back; War Drawings 1939-1945

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To 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.

A Reader in Edo Period Travel

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A 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'.

Culture and Power in Germany and Japan: The Spirit of Renewal

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Culture and Power in Germany and Japan: The Spirit of Renewal

Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi Based in part on the author's first-hand experience during his diplomatic postings to Tokyo and Bonn (1984-93), and supported by significant primary research, this parallel study of the post-war "resurrection" of two defeated nations provides a striking new and insightful analysis into the nature of Germany and Japan's recovery, highlighting in particular the shared cultural, linguistic, moral and technological factors that were essential for this "phoenix" phenomenon to take place. Indeed, it is his in-depth investigation into the shared philosophical tradition of renewal, preserved and promoted even in defeat and annihilation, which underpins the originality of the research, which will be widely welcomed at many academic and political levels.

Japan's Foreign Policy Maturation: A Quest for Normalcy

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Japan's Foreign Policy Maturation: A Quest for Normalcy

Review by J. Sean Curtin The sudden end of the Cold War took the Japanese foreign policy community by surprise. The Yoshida Doctrine which served Japanese foreign policy so well during the Cold War is no longer a viable foreign policy option. This dissertation examines the restructuring of Japanese foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Through a series of 56 interviews with Japanese foregin policy elites, the changes in Japanese foreign policy are put into the context of the foreign policy literature.

Britain and Japan in the Twentieth Century: One Hundred Years of Trade and Prejudice

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Britain and Japan in the Twentieth Century: One Hundred Years of Trade and Prejudice

Review by Sir Hugh Cortazzi After the horrors of World War II in Asia - not least the systematic appalling mistreatment of Allied prisoners-of-war by the Japanese military - few would have predicted that Britain's relationship with Japan would flourish into a booming partnership of economic interdependence by the start of the twenty-first century. This ambitious examination of Anglo-Japanese relations over the course of the 20th century charts the fascinating history of how both nations overcame many years of prejudice and bitter conflict to form a bond fused by financial, political and military cooperation. In the 1930s, many Japanese became convinced that their exports were being kept out of India by British tariffs and it was not until the 1980s that the British government fully accepted the futility of any protectionist impulse and encouraged Japanese companies to invest in Britain. Today, each country not only assists the other economically but also no longer blames the other for its own domestic problems. "Britain and Japan in the Twentieth Century" elucidates how both nations have struggled to achieve stability and harmony in their relations with each other in the face of contrasting cultural identities.

Innovation and Business Partnering in Japan, Europe and the United States

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Innovation and Business Partnering in Japan, Europe and the United States

Review by Christopher Williams Innovation and Business Partnering in Japan, Europe and the United States (Taplin, 2007) is an edited volume that shows how innovation and economic growth are becoming less determined by silos of research funded and managed by governments or large corporations, and more influenced by multiple actors of different types, interlinking to create "breeding ground[s] for cross-fertilisation and [the] generation of new business opportunities" (Taplin, Chapter 2: p. 20).

Culture, Community and Change in a Sapporo Neighborhood, 1925-1988: Hanayama

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Culture, Community and Change in a Sapporo Neighborhood, 1925-1988: Hanayama

Review by Sean Curtin Less than half a century ago, a powerful sense of local identity was an integral part of Japanese life. Today, the basic composition of most communities has been significantly altered by seismic population shifts, relentless urban expansion and vastly improved transportation networks. By blending contemporary ethnography with accounts of local history, John Mock's new book attempts to convey some of the massive social changes which occurred in local Japanese living patterns over a period of six decades. The mighty northern island of Hokkaido forms the dramatic backdrop for Mock's research.