Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture” as Want to Read:
The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  277 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In The Japanese Mind, Roger Davies offers Westerners an invaluable key to the unique aspects of Japanese culture. Readers of this book will gain a clear understanding of what really makes the Japanese, and their society, tick.

Among the topics explored: aimai (ambiguity), amae (dependence upon others' benevolence), amakudari (the nation's descent from heaven), chinmoku (sil
Paperback, 280 pages
Published March 15th 2002 by Tuttle Publishing
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Japanese Mind, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Japanese Mind

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 832)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
To many Westerners, the so called "Eastern mind" can be an enigma of seemingly conflicting ideologies and beliefs. However underlying this assumption is that there is any more of a common zeitgeist among Eastern peoples than there is among Western ones. This text will go even further to help clarify those ever elusive peculiarities in general East-West cross cultural understanding to tackle the unique facets of the Japanese cultural consciousness. Most importantly, however, is that this is a tex ...more
This is wonderfully theoretical and well supported, but a tad uneven (I think this is because the chapters were written by different people; possibly students?). I wish it had more specific examples and more cohesion from chapter to chapter so that it built an argument rather than having separate chapters.

Since my mother is Japanese and I grew up in the country, I understand the culture, but often find myself at a loss to explain my culture to my American friends, so I wanted more examples some
Pros: The idea behind the book was really interesting(written by Japanese english students, edited by their professor, proceeds go to scholarships) and the approach was exactly what I was looking for: straight to the point, each chapter focusing on one Japanese peculiarity.

Maa-maa: In the end of each chapter there were discussion questions and cross cultural issues; some of them intriguing, some of them(maybe most) anticipated.

Cons: the content/writing was also...peculiar. Amateurish? This was a
Lungo commento copincollato dal mio blog...
Ma io mi chiedo: possibile che a XXI secolo ormai avviato, vengano ancora scritti, e pubblicati, e tradotti libri di tale sorta?
La Mente giapponese, eccola qua. Nulla di nuovo, le solite quattro o cinque cose ripetute allo sfinimento nell’ennesimo libro uguale a mille altri: il gruppismo, l’armonia familiar-aziendale, la comunicazione silenziosa, l’emotività che vince la razionalità, l’inscrutabilità da parte degli stran
This book is a collection of essays initially written by Japanese students from Ehime University as exercise for English class. The essays were polished and edited by their English teacher Roger J. Daves. The students explain variety of concepts that shape the Japanese character, such as amae, chinmoku, wabi-sabi, Bushido, etc. The book can be also regarded as Nihonjinron document written in English.

The essays are written from the point of view of natives, which is the main merit of the book in
Amanda Clarissa
The fact that this book was written by Japanese students for their class (which I just learned recently) explains why is this book so easy to understand. It explores a variety of basic Japanese social and/or cultural concept which is still relevant even until now.

Because this book covers a broad range of topics, you can't expect to get a detailed explanation for each chapter. Nevertheless, you can start to understand why Japanese acts the way they do after reading this book ;)
A decent read and introduction if you want to graze the surface of an intriguing and complex culture so different from that in 'west'. This book briefly covers many topics (ambiguity, dependency, gift giving, funeral rites, Shinto and Buddhism, silence in communication, to name a few highlights) several of which relate heavily on each other. It was written by Japanese students as a university textbook (so occasionally, word choice and sentence structure are slightly awkward) and supposedly edite ...more
This is a great book for a fast overview of significant themes related to Japanese culture. These essays are based on a collaborative project completed over a period of years by Japanese students at a university in Japan.
Some of the topics include: Ambiguity and the Japanese, the Japanese Sense of Beauty, the Samurai, Silence in Japanese Communication, Male and Female Relationships in Japan, Japanese Social Obligations, Personal Space, Gift Giving Customs, Japanese Funerals, Arranged Marriage (
I found this to be a mostly fascinating book regarding Japanese culture and why Japanese people do the things they do or think the way they think. I'm familiar with a lot of what is covered in the book but I wasn't aware of the reason why for most of it. Definitely recommended reading if you are planning on living/working in Japan or have close Japanese friends or relatives. I probably still won't change my views about how people should give gifts simply for the sake of giving and not expect any ...more
Nov 27, 2014 OlePinto marked it as to-read
I registered a book at!
Interesting- I loved that it was written by Japanese English students. The sections on communication were where I lingered- the value of silence in particular.
Dmitry Ledentsov
an essential book for understanding the Japanese culture
farhan muhammad
Full of information. Very interesting. Mind-opening.
Azarine Kyla Arinta
If it wasn't for the book, the class I am taking about Japanese society would be unbearable. This book is a very easy reading for those of you who are interested in Japanese culture and wish to know what shapes the character of Japanese people. By the end of this book, every time I read a book by Japanese author or watch an anime or J-movies I can see the pattern of Japanese character and I can comprehend and grasp the meaning behind it.
Fairly well rounded and accurate - currently up to date as far as I'm aware, and very interesting from a historical point of view. It covered most subjects and talked of them in an easy-to-read fashion.

Probably not that interesting to those who already know quite a bit of Japan however, as it doesn't go quite in-depth, but it's very good for those who are just starting to have an interest in Japan.
May 22, 2012 Jacob is currently reading it
Still in the middle of it. This book is meant to be used as a textbook so it doesn't have to be read in a linear fashion.

But reading has helped me understand why things are the way they are in Japan. It also helped me cope with some of the what I perceive as craziness as a foreigner in the country. Sometimes understanding why makes it easier to have grace for others.
While a couple of the essays contained in this book were well-written and well thought out (Honne to Tatemae, Soshiki), too many of them relied on stereotypes, historical inaccuracies, and omissions in order to attempt to validate a point. It is difficult to take any critical essay seriously when it does not base its argument on complete and accurate information.
This is a well-written, easily understood examination of many of the norms and customs of Japan. Each chapter ends with a series of discussion questions, some of which are incisive and thought provoking. I plan to return to this book again and again because there is much to remember and digest. It was a helpful resource for a trip to Japan.
Written by college students for a class, this is not an in-depth look at words that typify Japanese culture but it's a good cursory beginning. The writing style is what you would expect from non-native English speakers educated in Japan, if you are aware of the pitfalls of the language education system in Japan. Not a bad start though.
This book presents a breadth of ideas but it's not so in-depth. I recommend it for anyone who has previous experience with Japanese culture or society and wants to understand it more. Otherwise I imagine it might be hard to fully grasp how the ideas put forth in this book are actually manifest in peoples' lives.
I got this from the Normandale is a great book to learn about Japanese customs and how they are changing in the contexts of Japan's modernization in the past few decades. Also provides "discussion questions" for those who wish to chew on the material further.
A collection of short, easy to read essays about many different aspects of Japanese culture.

None of the topics in this book are covered in great depth, yet the whole offers a very interesting glimpse of many of the things that make the Japanese society unique.
Feb 20, 2009 Sarazen is currently reading it
This collection of essays is laid out something like a text book, discussion questions included. The subject material and content is hardly the dry fare you might expect from such a setup. So far at least. Interesting book about a fascinating people.
This really touched on the culture well, this was required reading for study abroad students so I among the other people in the program had to read this and write our reactions. It truly is an insightful book.
Some of these chapters seem to overlap. I think this book could've been better organized, as some of the same information resurfaced in multiple chapters.
If you've ever found yourself in Japan wondering "what the F#$* is going on" then this book is for you. Or maybe you're just a fan of unique cultural nuances.
An excellent summary of a lot of cultural concepts that I studied in college.
I read this before going to Japan. Wow did it help.
I loved the cover!
Trista Belcastro
Trista Belcastro marked it as to-read
Dec 20, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 27 28 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation
  • Dogs and Demons: Tales From the Dark Side of Modern Japan
  • Inventing Japan: 1853-1964
  • A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present
  • The Making of Modern Japan
  • Japanese Culture
  • Japan: A Reinterpretation
  • Zen and Japanese Culture
  • Japan: Its History and Culture
  • The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture
  • The Anatomy of Dependence
  • A Hundred Years of Japanese Film: A Concise History
  • Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S.
  • Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II
  • Japanland: A Year in Search of Wa
  • Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West
  • A History of Japan
  • The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan
Япония. Как ее понять. Очерки современной японской культуры

Share This Book

“In order to live without creating any serious problems for the group's harmony, people avoid expressing their ideas clearly, even the point of avoiding giving a simple yes or no answer. If a person really wanted to say no, he or she said nothing at first, then used vague expressions that conveyed the nuance of disagreement.” 1 likes
“In Japan, however, if you against someone and create a bad atmosphere, your relations may break-off completely. People tend to react emotionally, and most are afraid of being excluded from the group.” 1 likes
More quotes…