Modern Japanese Literature

Modern Japanese Literature: From 1868 to the Present Day. Compiled and ed. Donald Keene. New York, NY: Grove Press, 1956. Canonical anthology of major works of Japanese literature in translation, from the Meiji period (1868-1912) through the 1950s. Includes works by major authors such as Natsume Soseki and Jun'ichiro Tanizaki, as well as waka and haiku poetry from this era.

Anthology of Japanese Literature (through 1870)

Anthology of Japanese Literature: From the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Compiled and ed. Donald Keene. New York, NY: Grove Press, 1955. Canonical anthology of major works of Japanese literature in translation, up until the years of the Meiji Restoration (around 1870). Includes major works such as Sei Shonogan's The Pillow Book, The Tale of the Heike, Basho's haiku, and works by Iharu Saikaku and Chikamatsu Monzaemon. Interspersed are essays by Donald Keene on the historical context for these works.

A Hundred Years of Japanese Film

Richie, Donald. A Hundred Years of Japanese Film: A Concise History, with a Selective Guide to DVDs and Videos. Revised edition. New York, NY: Kodansha USA, 2012. A comprehensive history of Japanese film, covering the work of great directors such as Kurosawa as well as current trends. Includes a list of subtitled films readily available in the United States.

The Japanese Educational Challenge

White, Merry. The Japanese Educational Challenge: A Commitment to Children. New York, NY: The Free Press, 1987. Analyzes the Japanese educational system and culture in order to draw lessons and inspiration for the U.S. educational system. Of particular interest is the Japanese societal commitment to children and their education, including cultural attitudes towards both parents and teachers.


Hearn, Lafcadio. Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things. Boston, MA, Rutlant, VT, and Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 1971. A collection of Japanese ghost stories and folk tales compiled and translated by Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), also known as Koizumi Yakumo. Hearn was one of the first Westerners to study and write about Japanese culture. Kwaidan is his most well-known publication, and it served as the basis for the 1965 horror film of the same name by Masaki Kobayashi.

Millennial Monsters

Allison, Anne. Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006. Anthropologist Anne Allison examines Japanese youth culture and its increasingly global popularity, from manga to karaoke, investigating the capitalistic nature of these forms of play and the cultural exchange between Japan and the U.S. in particular.

Perfectly Japanese

White, Merry. Perfectly Japanese: Making Families in an Era of Upheaval. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2002. Anthropologist Merry White explores 20th century transformations in family structure in Japan, comparing the reality with two idealized models from the Meiji and postwar periods.


Tanizaki, Jun'ichiro. Naomi. New York: Vintage Books, 2001. In this classic novel, originally serialized in 1924-25, Tanizaki tells the story of Joji's infatuation with the young waitress Naomi. Naomi is considered to be a literary example of the moga, or "modern girl" -- flapper-like young women of the Taisho period (1912-1926) who embraced new social freedoms, and the novel examines the early 20th century tension between rapid Westernization and traditional Japanese culture.


Dalby, Liza. Geisha. 25th anniversary ed. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2008. In this classic, Dalby--the first non-Japanese to ever train as a geisha (in the 1970s)--provides an insider's exploration of the world of the geisha. She examines the history of these elite entertainers as well as the transformations and adaptations of geisha culture to modern life. 

Now or Never?

"Pictures: Now or Never? 9 Places to See Before They Slip Away." National Geographic. 25 June, 2012. In their list of nine sites around the world to visit before they disappear, National Geographic included Kyoto's machiya houses alongside Mount Kilimanjaro, the country of Bhutan, and the Dead Sea. All of the sites listed are threatened either by climate change, globalization, modernization, or a combination of forces.



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