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
Open Preview

The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture

by
3.75  ·  Rating details ·  870 ratings  ·  75 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 (si ...more
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

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  870 ratings  ·  75 reviews


Filter
 | 
Sort order
Dylan Grant
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was a nice little introductory book to the functions of Japanese society. The questions formulated at the end of each chapter are particularly good for sparking interesting thoughts and conversations.

However, I had a few problems with it. The author projects the moral biases of the liberal west onto Japan and constantly criticizes them for not being egalitarian and globalized enough. I think the authors should have thought about these criticisms more critically and evaluated the hierarchic
...more
Tara
Jan 30, 2016 rated it liked it
I picked this up out of curiosity after seeing it in a pile of books at a friends house. I suppose I could have done a little more research into similar books on the market as in the end I'm not quite the target audience of the book. It has several very short chapters on different topics that do provide interesting insights but I think 50% of the book is discussion topics and without anyone to discuss with I felt it fall a bit flat based on my own isolated knowledge, since the discussions were w ...more
Chant Cowen
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Maybe I have read too many journals on East Asian culture because this felt extremely disappointing which is a shame. Ironically the place it was written (students) is not that far away (Matsuyama) from where I live (Takamatsu).

The majority of the book is split into various topics of modern Japan that gloss over finer points and for the most point give such a superficial description of Japanese culture it leaves the reader wanting more.

I have issue with Tuttle books in general because I know t
...more
Kat
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read this while in Japan, and it was illuminating. American and Japanese culture are extremely different, so having aspects of Japanese worldview explained felt necessary. As a Korean-American, I found aspects of Japanese culture that resonated with my parents' and grandparents' ways and worldviews as well.

If I were Japanese, I'd probably raise more of an eyebrow, but on the whole I found this hugely helpful in understanding the culture. I recommend reading it before, during, or after a trip to
...more
Chris Jaffe
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Well, that was disappointing. Davies and Ikeno edited a book about modern Japanese culture, but it felt like it was a half-inch deep and a mile wide. I suppose that's inevitable given how they're trying to discuss an entire culture - but what's annoying is that they really don't discuss the entire culture.

Instead, the book focuses on individualized aspects of Japanese culture. There are 28 chapters, each focusing on some aspect of Japanese belief or practice. That might sound nice in theory, bu
...more
フィル
Jul 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese
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
Rebecca
This book is actually impossible to rate - it is a set of essays on different Japanese expressions and key-words. First of all, it is impossible to be equally interested in all of them, but that is not the main issue. The issue is that the quality is very, very uneven. Some of the essays reads as something a bored student has handed in, written the night before without any afterthought at all. And some of them are really great (I would especially like to mention the chapters Gambari, Hedataru no ...more
Tassos
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I started reading this book right before going for a month in Japan for a trip, and I must say it was very useful.

It's a collection of essays written by Japanese university students about various aspects of Japanese culture and mentality. It's very difficult to know if all the details provided are accurate (I was just for a month there), but based on some discussions I had with Japanese people, they seem to confirm what the book is saying.

Some repetition exists, but that is because each essay is
...more
Brendan
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Dina P.
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wish I could give 5.5 for this book.

This is a thorough essays about Japanese cultures that for centuries has built up Japanese characters.
I really wish I had read it sooner, at least before I tried to learn kanji. Because this book gives me insight of the Japanese life, why the say or do the way they say/do. It is a kind of book that has a chain reaction on me. It makes me want to read books on Japanese cultures and history, and short stories, and manga. Well, in fact just anything related to J
...more
Katharine (Ventureadlaxre)
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.
Bobby Baden
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I appreciate the in-depth nature of this book and the relevance of the topics it addresses. The assessments are accurate, and the questions at the end of each chapter are helpful in guiding deeper thought. The questions would best be used as a discussion topic in a cross-cultural group setting.
Bivisyani Questibrilia
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Bivisyani by: Hilda Dermaya Arifia
For such an interesting read, I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before I found it on my friend's bookshelf. She said, it used to be one of her textbooks when she was studying in university in Japan. Flipping through its table of contents, I gleamed at the various Japanese principles of living, finding myself only family with Bushido and the Senpai/Kouhai relationship. There are numerous concepts that I was familiar with and understood partially, but never knew they had a name—or why they exis ...more
Yupa
Nov 25, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Hans
Dec 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
I was a little excited to read this book when I bought it, but when I looked at the reviews I was disappointed, and embarrassingly enough, I was quite influenced by those reviews as every chapter I read I could only think of the negative reviews that I saw (I don't like to be influenced by other peoples reviews when I write my own but I couldn't help it).

However, many other people who have read the book with me have agreed that each chapter is very thin and the presented arguments and discussio
...more
Janita Knowles
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This was quite an academic style analysis of basically what makes the Japanese approach to almost everything noticeably different to the eyes of the average Westerner or foreigner. Anyone who ever visits Japan notices a million things each day that intrigue and perplex, and so before we left Japan on our first ever visit I went in search for a book like this because I had and still have so many questions. I found the book very comprehensive, covering every aspect of life. Perhaps it was a little ...more
Pupukat
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan
Excellent book on Japanese culture. It was very informative. It really helped me understand Japanese culture. I particularly liked the fact that it was written by Japanese university students who were majoring in applied linguistics and TEFL. Each individual chapter can stand on its own. There is some repetition of ideas but it didn't bother me. It helped me understand the concepts more clearly and deeply. The writing is kind of formulaic and over relies on transitions for cohesion, which is som ...more
Anna Hintsyak
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book provides basic knowledge on Japanese culture. I think its a bit repetitive(however, it was written in introduction that some of the topics will be mentioned a few times in different chapters, as each topic is separate essay written by students). It would be good to include here also themes related to gaming industry in Japan which has a huge impact in Japanese society.
Emma
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
I binged borrowed a number of books on Japan in preparation of a 2 week trip there. This book was a pretty crude and reductive rendition of what it means to be "Japanese", to be fair, any 300 page book that attempts to summarized a whole culture will likely be crude and reductive. It was instructive in ways to get a gist of certain ideas like aimai, giri, bushido etc.
Stuart Jones
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A neat compilation of student work on the culture of Japan. It's a good primer for people starting to get interested in Japanese culture, and reinforces a lot of what people that have lived in Japan already know. Still, you get to read about Japan from college students that have lived it their whole lives, and who better to tell you about the ins and outs of the system than them.
Charlotte Mercille
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, nonfiction, japan
Informative, concise and refreshing. Borrowed it from a friend before my first trip to Japan and I think people with little to no knowledge of Japan will benefit the most from this collection of essays. In other words, it's a good crash course to understand Japanese history and culture. The text is also divided in each main concept, which makes it highly readable.
Laurel
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting collection of introductory essays on various philosophical aspects of Japanese culture. The essays were thought provoking, and many of them definitely provided impetus for further investigation on my part.
Darcy
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it
An academic look at different aspects of Japanese culture. Insightful for someone who is traveling or doing business in Japan into the very different way in which Japanese culture and society functions from the west.
Erik
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan, social-science
Good intro to some aspects of Japanese culture. Collection of student essays. Several overlap a lot, but it reinforces the concepts. Easy read. Each chapter is followed by discussion questions and case study vignettes suitable for students living in Japan with access to cultural observations.
Laura Tomas-Avellana
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good introduction to Japanese culture and society.
Jeanine
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Did not finish - there are other better books to learn about Japanese culture.
Nina
Feels a little dated, but a good encyclopedia of Japanese cultural traditions. Started this during a trip to Japan, put it down for a while, and just finished it recently.
Christopher
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful and complete overview to the japanesse mind. I really enjoyed each chapter of this book because as an buddhist I love and respect their culture.
Sarah loves books 😻😻😻
4 stars. At times it got a bit repetitive due to the overlapping and interactive nature of different concepts but overall very educational!
Emily
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Informative
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Art, music, dance & more 1 2 Mar 04, 2017 08:24AM  
  • Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation
  • Dogs and Demons: Tales From the Dark Side of Modern Japan
  • Japan: Its History and Culture
  • Japanland: A Year in Search of Wa
  • The Anatomy of Dependence
  • Zen and Japanese Culture
  • A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present
  • Japanese Culture
  • Etiquette Guide to Japan: Know the Rules That Make the Difference!
  • Sources of Japanese Tradition (Volume I)
  • The Japan Journals: 1947-2004
  • Inventing Japan: 1853-1964
  • Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West
  • Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence
  • Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan
  • Hikikomori: Adolescence without End
  • The Making of Modern Japan
  • Japan: A Reinterpretation
“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…