The First European Description of Japan, 1585
A Critical English-Language Edition of Striking Contrasts in the Customs of Europe and Japan by Luis Frois, S.J.
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In 1585, at the height of Jesuit missionary activity in Japan, which was begun by Francis Xavier in 1549, Luis Frois, a long-time missionary in Japan, drafted the earliest systematic comparison of Western and Japanese cultures. This book constitutes the first critical English-language edition of the 1585 work, the original of which was discovered in the Royal Academy of History in Madrid after the Second World War. The book provides a translation of the text, which is not a continuous narrative, but rather more than 600 distichs or brief couplets on subjects such as gender, child rearing, religion, medicine, eating, horses, writing, ships and seafaring, architecture, and music and drama. In addition, the book includes a substantive introduction and other editorial material to explain the background and also to make comparisons with present-day Japanese life. Overall, the book represents an important primary source for understanding a particularly challenging period of history and its connection to contemporary Europe and Japan.
Table of Contents
Critical Introduction Daniel T. Reff The Tratado 1. Men, their Persons, and their Clothing 2. Women, their Persons and Customs 3. Children and their Customs 4. The Bonzes and their Customs 5. Temples, Images, and Things Pertaining to Worship and Religion 6. The Japanese Way of Eating and Drinking 7. Japanese Offensive and Defensive Weapons and Warfare 8. Horses 9. Diseases, Doctors, and Medicines 10. Japanese Writing and their Books, Paper, Ink and Letters 11. Houses, Construction, Gardens and Fruits 12. Ships, Seafaring and Dogus 13. Japanese Plays, Farces, Dances, Singing, and Musical Instruments 14. Other Various and Extraordinary Things that could not be Assigned to the Previous Chapters
Luis Frois S.J. was a long-time Jesuit missionary in Japan in the later years of the sixteenth century.
Daniel T. Reff is an anthropologist and Professor in the Department of Comparative Studies in the Humanities, The Ohio State University, USA
Richard Danford is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Vice-President for Diversity and Inclusion at Marietta College, Ohio, USA
Robin Gill is a freelance translator, author and editor, USA
"Attributes make Danford, Gill, and Reff’s tome a worthwhile text to be used by seasoned scholars as well as in courses on the encounter between Europe and Japan, both at introductory and more advanced levels."
Christina H. Lee, Princeton University
Journal of Jesuit Studies 2 (2015) 712-714