Harmony, a principle value in the Japanese culture, is the virtue first discussed in Japaneseness by Yoji Yamakuse. The seventy-five values and virtues that follow are ways to achieve that ultimate goal.
The definition, character analysis, etymology, historical manifestation, and modern adaptation are all condensed into approximately one page for each value or virtue, which makes this a dense, rich book. It could be easily gulped down in one sitting like a platter of sushi, or each morsel could be savored as a daily meditation. For example, modesty comes with the following metaphor:
“The wise hawk hides its talons.”
The reader might consider the wisdom behind each value or virtue and how it could be adopted into his or her personal life or Western culture as a whole. While this is not a how-to guide on how to act in Japan, Western professionals who work with Japanese professionals may better understand some of the dynamics during meetings. People who enjoy Japanese literature, manga, and films may find deeper understanding of how culture affects the characters and their actions.
Japaneseness, originally written for Japanese people to better understand themselves and their own culture, was revised for publication outside of Japan for anyone interested in learning about Japanese culture, values, and virtues.
Sarah Hutchins is an English Instructor and freelance writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She earned a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Antioch University and a Bachelors of Arts in English from Portland State University. Her sagging bookshelves suffer from a peculiar fate: for each book read and removed, three or four magically appear in its stead. The books that find a permanent home on these same shelves are typically classics, French literature, philosophical novels and essays, and magic realism.
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