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A Year in a Japanese School Through the Eyes of An American Anthropologist and Her Children
Gail R. Benjamin reaches beyond predictable images of authoritarian Japanese educators and automaton schoolchildren to show the advantages and disadvantages of a system remarkably different from the American one... --The New York Times Book Review
Americans regard the Japanese educational system and the lives of Japanese children with a mixture of awe and indignance. We respect a system that produces higher literacy rates and superior math skills, but we reject the excesses of a system that leaves children with little free time and few outlets for creativity and self-expression.
In Japanese Lessons, Gail R. Benjamin recounts her experiences as a American parent with two children in a Japanese elementary school. An anthropologist, Benjamin successfully weds the roles of observer and parent, illuminating the strengths of the Japanese system and suggesting ways in which Americans might learn from it.
With an anthropologist's keen eye, Benjamin takes us through a full year in a Japanese public elementary school, bringing us into the classroom with its comforting structure, lively participation, varied teaching styles, and non-authoritarian teachers. We follow the children on class trips and Sports Days and through the rigors of summer vacation homework. We share the experiences of her young son and daughter as they react to Japanese schools, friends, and teachers. Through Benjamin we learn what it means to be a mother in Japan--how minute details, such as the way mothers prepare lunches for children, reflect cultural understandings of family and education.
Table of Contents
1. Getting Started
2. Why Study Japanese Education?
3. Day-to-Day Routines
4. Together at School, Together in Life
5. A Working Vacation and Special Events
6. The Three R's, Japanese Style
7. The Rest of the Day
8. Nagging, Preaching, and Discussions
9. Enlisting Mothers' Efforts
10. Education in Japanese Society
11. Themes and Suggestions
Appendix. Reading and Writing in Japanese
Representations of Sacred Geography
The first broad study of Japanese mandalas to appear in a Western language, this volume interprets mandalas as sanctified realms where identification between the human and the sacred occurs. The author investigates eighth- to seventeenth-century paintings from three traditions: Esoteric Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, and the kami-worshipping (Shinto) tradition. It is generally recognized that many of these mandalas are connected with texts and images from India and the Himalayas. A pioneering theme of this study is that, in addition to the South Asian connections, certain paradigmatic Japanese mandalas reflect pre-Buddhist Chinese concepts, including geographical concepts. In convincing and lucid prose, ten Grotenhuis chronicles an intermingling of visual, doctrinal, ritual, and literary elements in these mandalas that has come to be seen as characteristic of the Japanese religious tradition as a whole. This beautifully illustrated work begins in the first millennium B.C.E. in China with an introduction to the Book of Documents and ends in present-day Japan at the sacred site of Kumano. Ten Grotenhuis focuses on the Diamond and Womb World mandalas of Esoteric Buddhist tradition, on the Taima mandala and other related mandalas from the Pure Land Buddhist tradition, and on mandalas associated with the kami-worshipping sites of Kasuga and Kumano. She identifies specific sacred places in Japan with sacred places in India and with Buddhist cosmic diagrams. Through these identifications, the realm of the buddhas is identified with the realms of the kami and of human beings, and Japanese geographical areas are identified with Buddhist sacred geography. Explaining why certain fundamental Japanese mandalas look the way they do and how certain visual forms came to embody the sacred, ten Grotenhuis presents works that show a complex mixture of Indian Buddhist elements, pre-Buddhist Chinese elements, Chinese Buddhist elements, and indigenous Japanese elements.
With Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook, readers of English can now access in a single volume the richness and diversity of Japanese philosophy as it has developed throughout history. Leading scholars in the field have translated selections from the writings of more than a hundred philosophical thinkers from all eras and schools of thought, many of them available in English for the first time.
The Sourcebook editors have set out to represent the entire Japanese philosophical tradition—not only the broad spectrum of academic philosophy dating from the introduction of Western philosophy in the latter part of the nineteenth century, but also the philosophical ideas of major Japanese traditions of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto. The philosophical significance of each tradition is laid out in an extensive overview, and each selection is accompanied by a brief biographical sketch of its author and helpful information on placing the work in its proper context. The bulk of the supporting material, which comprises nearly a quarter of the volume, is given to original interpretive essays on topics not explicitly covered in other chapters: cultural identity, samurai thought, women philosophers, aesthetics, bioethics.
An introductory chapter provides a historical overview of Japanese philosophy and a discussion of the Japanese debate over defining the idea of philosophy, both of which help explain the rationale behind the design of the Sourcebook. An exhaustive glossary of technical terminology, a chronology of authors, and a thematic index are appended. Specialists will find information related to original sources and sinographs for Japanese names and terms in a comprehensive bibliography and general index.
Handsomely presented and clearly organized for ease of use, Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook will be a cornerstone in Japanese studies for decades to come. It will be an essential reference for anyone interested in traditional or contemporary Japanese culture and the way it has shaped and been shaped by its great thinkers over the centuries.
First published in 1898 and long out of print, A Japanese Robinson Crusoe by Jenichiro Oyabe (1867–1941) is a pioneering work of Asian American literature. It recounts Oyabe’s early life in Japan, his journey west, and his education at two historically Black colleges, detailing in the process his gradual transformation from Meiji gentleman to self-proclaimed "Japanese Yankee." Like a Victorian novelist, Oyabe spins a tale that mixes faith and exoticism, social analysis and humor. His story fuses classic American narratives of self-creation and the self-made man (and, in some cases, the tall tale) with themes of immigrant belonging and "whiteness." Although he compares himself with the castaway Robinson Crusoe, Oyabe might best be described as a combination of Crusoe and his faithful servant Friday, the Christianized man of color who hungers to be enlightened by Western ways. A Japanese Robinson Crusoe is flavored with insights on important questions for contemporary Americans: How does one "become" American? How is Asian American identity formed in response to the conditions of other racial groups? When and how did the Asian American "model minority" myth emerge? A new introduction provides a provocative analysis of Oyabe’s story and discusses his years abroad in the context of his later career, placing the text within both American and modern Japanese history.
The self serves as a universally available, effective, and indispensable filter for making sense of the chaos of the world. In her latest book, Takie Lebra attempts a new understanding of the Japanese self through her unique use of cultural logic. She begins by presenting and elaborating on two models ("opposition logic" and "contingency logic") to examine concepts of self, Japanese and otherwise. Guided by these, she delves into the three layers of the Japanese self, focusing first on the social layer as located in four "zones"—omote (front), uchi (interior), ura (back), and soto (exterior)—and its shifts from zone to zone. New light is shed on these familiar linguistic and spatial categories by introducing the dimension of civility. The book expands the discussion in relation to larger constructions of the inner and cosmological self. Unlike the social self, which views itself in relation to the "other," the inner layer involves a reflexivity in which self communicates with self. While the social self engages in dialogue or trialogue, the inner self communicates through monologue or soliloquy. The cosmological layer, which centers around transcendental beliefs and fantasies, is examined and the analysis supplemented with comments on aesthetics. Throughout, Lebra applies her methodology to dozens of Japanese examples and makes relevant comparisons with North American culture and notions of self. Finally, she provides a spirited analysis of critiques of Nihonjinron to reinforce the relevancy of Japanese studies. This volume is the culmination of decades of thinking on self and social relations by one of the most influential scholars in the field. It will prove highly instructive to Japanese and non-Japanese readers alike in a range of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, and social psychology
In this first synthetic, comprehensive survey of Japanese sports in English, the authors are attentive to the complex and fascinating interaction of traditional and modern elements. In the course of tracing the emergence and development of sumo, the martial arts, and other traditional sports from their origins to the present, they demonstrate that some cherished "ancient" traditions were, in fact, invented less than a century ago. They also register their skepticism about the use of the samurai tradition to explain Japan's success in sports. Special attention is given to Meiji-era Japan's frequently ambivalent adoption and adaptation of European and American sports--a particularly telling example of Japan's love-hate relationship with the West. The book goes on the describe the history of physical education in the school system, the emergence of amateur and professional leagues, the involvement of business and the media in sports promotion, and Japan's participation in the Olympics.
Worldliness in a Religion of Renunciation
There have been many studies that focus on aspects of the history of Japanese Buddhism. Until now, none have addressed important questions of organization and practice in contemporary Buddhism, questions such as how Japanese Buddhism came to be seen as a religion of funeral practices; how Buddhist institutions envision the role of the laity; and how a married clergy has affected life at temples and the image of priests. This volume is the first to address fully contemporary Buddhist life and institutions—topics often overlooked in the conflict between the rhetoric of renunciation and the practices of clerical marriage and householding that characterize much of Buddhism in today’s Japan. Informed by years of field research and his own experiences training to be a Tendai priest, Stephen Covell skillfully refutes this "corruption paradigm" while revealing the many (often contradictory) facets of contemporary institutional Buddhism, or as Covell terms it, Temple Buddhism. Covell significantly broadens the scope of inquiry to include how Buddhism is approached by both laity and clerics when he takes into account temple families, community involvement, and the commodification of practice. He considers law and tax issues, temple strikes, and the politics of temple boards of directors to shed light on how temples are run and viewed by their inhabitants, supporters, and society in general. In doing so he uncovers the economic realities that shape ritual practices and shows how mundane factors such as taxes influence the debate over temple Buddhism’s role in contemporary Japanese society. In addition, through interviews and analyses of sectarian literature and recent scholarship on gender and Buddhism, he provides a detailed look at priests’ wives, who have become indispensable in the management of temple affairs.
From Its Origins in China to Sen Rikyu
Almost a millennium before the perfection of chado (the Way of Tea) by Sen Rikyu (1522-1591), the Chinese scholar-official Lu Yu (d. 785) wrote exhaustively about tea and its virtues. Grand Tea Master Sen Soshitsu begins his examination of tea's origins and development from the eighth century through the Heian and medieval eras. This volume illustrates that modes of thinking and practices now associated with the Japanese Way of Tea can be traced to China--where from the classical period tea was imbued with a spiritual quality.
Discourse and Power
From its creation in the early twentieth century, policymakers used the discourse of international law to legitimate Japan’s empire. Although the Japanese state aggrandizers’ reliance on this discourse did not create the imperial nation Japan would become, their fluent use of its terms inscribed Japan’s claims as legal practice within Japan and abroad. Focusing on Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910, Alexis Dudden gives long-needed attention to the intellectual history of the empire and brings to light presumptions of the twentieth century’s so-called international system by describing its most powerful—and most often overlooked—member’s engagement with that system. Early chapters describe the global atmosphere that declared Japan the legal ruler of Korea and frame the significance of the discourse of early twentieth-century international law and how its terms became Japanese. Dudden then brings together these discussions in her analysis of how Meiji leaders embedded this discourse into legal precedent for Japan, particularly in its relations with Korea. Remaining chapters explore the limits of these ‘universal’ ideas and consider how the international arena measured Japan’s use of its terms. Dudden squares her examination of the legality of Japan’s imperialist designs by discussing the place of colonial policy studies in Japan at the time, demonstrating how this new discipline further created a common sense that Japan’s empire accorded to knowledgeable practice. This landmark study greatly enhances our understanding of the intellectual underpinnings of Japan’s imperial aspirations. In this carefully researched and cogently argued work, Dudden makes clear that, even before Japan annexed Korea, it had embarked on a legal and often legislating mission to make its colonization legitimate in the eyes of the world.
Issues in Culture and Democracy, 19001930
Scholars, Japanese and non-Japanese alike, have studied the greater Taisho era (1900-1930) within the framework of Taisho demokurashii (democracy). While this concept has proved useful, students of the period in more recent years have sought alternative ways of understanding the late Meiji-Taisho period. This collection of essays, each based on new research, offers original insights into various aspects of modern Japanese cultural history from "modernist" architecture to women as cultural symbols, popular songs to the rhetoric of empire-building, and more. The volume is organized around three general topics: geographical and cultural space; cosmopolitanism and national identity; and diversity, autonomy, and integration. Within these the authors have identified a number of thematic tensions that link the essays: high and low culture in cultural production and dissemination; national and ethnic identities; empire and ethnicity; the center and the periphery; naichi (homeland) and gaichi (overseas); urban and rural; public and private; migration and barriers. The volume opens up new avenues of exploration for the study of modern Japanese history and culture. If, as one of the authors contends, the imperative is " to understand more fully the historical forces that made Japan what it is today," these studies of Japan's "competing modernities" point the way to answers to some of the country's most challenging historical questions in this century.