Making Japanese Heritage: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Making Japanese Heritage

1st Edition

Edited by Christoph Brumann, Rupert A. Cox


240 pages | 23 B/W Illus.

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This book examines the making of heritage in contemporary Japan, investigating the ways in which particular objects, practices and institutions are ascribed public recognition and political significance. Through detailed ethnographic and historical case studies, it analyses the social, economic, and even global political dimensions of cultural heritage. It shows how claims to heritage status in Japan stress different material qualities of objects, places and people - based upon their ages, originality and usage. Following on an introduction that thoroughly assesses the field, the ethnographic and historiographic case studies range from geisha; noh masks; and the tea ceremony; urban architecture; automata; a utopian commune and the sites of Mitsubishi company history. They examine how their heritage value is made and re-made, and appraise the construction of heritage in cases where the heritage value resides in the very substance of the object’s material composition - for example, in architecture, landscapes and designs - and show how the heritage industry adds values to existing assets: such as sacredness, urban charm or architectural and ethnic distinctiveness. The book questions the interpretation of material heritage as an enduring expression of social relations, aesthetic values and authenticity which, once conferred, undergoes no subsequent change, and standard dismissals of heritage as merely a tool for enshrining the nation; supporting the powerful; fostering nostalgic escapism; or advancing capitalist exploitation. Finally, it considers the role of people as agents of heritage production, and analyses the complexity of the relationships between people and objects. This book is a rigorous assessment of how conceptions of Japanese heritage have been forged, and provides a wealth of evidence that questions established assumptions on the nature and social roles of heritage.

Table of Contents

Preface - Joy Hendry Introduction - Rupert Cox and Christoph Brumann Part I: Performing Japaneseness through Heritage 1: Making ‘Japanese’ Tea - Kirsten Surak 2: Before Making Heritage: Internationalisation of Geisha in the Meiji Period - Mariko Okada 3: Making Art in the Japanese Way: Nihonga as Process and Symbolic Action - Arunas Gelunas Part II: Institutionalising Japanese Heritage 4: Architecture, Folklore Studies, and Cultural Democracy: Nagakura Saburô and Hida Minzoku-mura - Peter Siegenthaler 5: Nô Masks on Stage and in Museums: Approaches to the Contextualisation and Conservation of the Pitt Rivers Museum Nô Mask Collection - Rachel Payne 6: Company Culture or Patinated Past? The Display of Corporate Heritage in Sumitomo - Bart Gaens Part III: Japanese Local Heritage and the Wider World 7: A Heady Heritage: The Shifting Biography of Kashira (Puppet Heads) as Cultural Heritage Objects in the Awaji Tradition - Jane Marie Law 8: The Case of the Sash: A Search for Context in Okinawa - Amanda Mayer Stinchecum 9: Houses in Motion: The Revitalization of Kyoto’s Architectural Heritage - Christoph Brumann 10: Automated Alterities: Movement and Identity in the History of the Japanese Kobi Ningyô - Rupert Cox Part IV: Perpetuating Japanese Heritage 11: Maintaining a Zen Tradition in Japan: The Concrete Problem of Priest Succession - Masaki Matsubara 12: Debating the Past to Determine the Future in Shinkyo, a Japanese Commune - Michael Shackleton

About the Editors

Rupert Cox: (important publications)

'Is there a Japanese Way of Playing" in Japan at Play: The ludic and logic of power eds Hendry and Ravieri (Routledge 2001)

The Zen-Arts: An Anthropological Study of the Culture of Aesthetic Form in Japan (ROutledge, 2003)

"Wagamama technology - An uncanny history of Japanese robot technology" in Japan as a model of Asian modernisation eds Raud

Japan and the Cultures of Copying: Historical and anthropological approaches (Routledge)

Christoph Brumann: (select list)

Whose Kyoto? Machizukuri, Local Autonomy and Patonashippu in an Old City. In: Carola Hein & Philippe Pelletier (ed.) Cities, Autonomy, and Decentralization. London: Routledge.

Writing for Culture: Why a Successful Concept Should Not Be Discarded. In: Robert L. Welsch & Kirk M. Endicott (eds.), Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Cultural Anthropology. (Second ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill (Reprint of 1999 Current Anthropology article).

Copying Kyoto: The Legitimacy of Imitation in Kyoto's Townscape Debates. In: Rupert Cox (ed.) Japan and the Culture of Copying. London: RoutledgeCurzon.

Stamm - Volk - Ethnizitat - Kultur: Die aktuelle Diskussion [Tribe - People - Ethnicity - Culture: The Current Debate]. In: Sabine Rieckhoff & Ulrike Sommer (eds.) Auf der Suche nach Identitaten: Volk - Stamm - Kultur - Ethnos. Internationale Tagung 8.-9.12.2000, Leipzig [In Pursuit of Identities: People- Tribe - Culture - Ethnos]. (British Archaeological Reports, International Series.) Oxford.

Writing for Culture: Why a Successful Concept Should Not Be Discarded. Pp. 43-77 in: Adam Muller (ed.), Concepts of Culture: Arts, Politics, and Society, Calgary: University of Calgary Press (Reprint of 1999 Current Anthropology article).

Kyotos Dilemma: Das Stadtbild als commons [Kyoto's Dilemma: The Townscape as Commons]. In: Werner Pascha & Cornelia Storz (eds.) Wirkung und Wandel von Institutionen: Das Beispiel Ostasien [Institutional Effects and Institutional Change: The Case of East Asia], pp. 133-168. Stuttgart: Lucius & Lucius.

Der urbane Raum als offentliches Gut: Kyoto und die Stadtbildkonflikte [Urban Space as a Public Good: Kyoto and the Townscape Conflicts]. Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie 129:183-210.

Intentional Communities in Japan. In: Karen Christensen & David Levinson (eds.) Encyclopedia of Community, vol. 2, pp. 739-743. Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Sage.

"All the Flesh Kindred That Ever I See": A Reconsideration of Family and Kinship in Utopian Communes. Comparative Studies in Society and History 45:395-421.

About the Series

Japan Anthropology Workshop Series

Editorial Board:
Pamela Asquith, University of Alberta
Eyal Ben Ari, Kinneret Academic College, Sea of Galilee, Israel

Hirochika Nakamaki, Suita City Museum, Japan
Christoph Brumann, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany

Henry Johnson, University of Otago, New Zealand

Founder Member of the Editorial Board:
Jan van Bremen, University of Leiden

Routledge is very proud to be publishing this important series, which has already signed up a good list of high quality books on interesting topics, and has a truly international range of authors and editors.

A key aim of the series is to present studies that offer a deep understanding of aspects of Japanese society and culture to offset the impression of constant change and frivolity that so tempts the mass media around the world.  Living in Japan brings anyone into contact with the fervent mood of change, and former residents from many other countries enjoy reading about their temporary home, but there is a demand also to penetrate less obvious elements of this temporary life.  Anthropologists specialise in digging beneath the surface, in peeling off and examining layers of cultural wrapping, and in gaining an understanding of language and communication that goes beyond formal presentation and informal frolicking.  This series will help to open the eyes of readers around the world from many backgrounds to the work of these diligent anthropologists researching the social life of Japan.

Submissions from prospective authors are welcomed, and enquiries should be sent in the first instance to the series editor Professor Joy Hendry (

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / Japan
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General