Understanding Japanese Society: 4th Edition (Paperback) book cover

Understanding Japanese Society

4th Edition

By Joy Hendry

© 2012 – Routledge

256 pages

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Paperback: 9780415679145
pub: 2012-06-29
Hardback: 9780415679138
pub: 2012-07-03
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203111659
pub: 2012-10-02
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With the ever growing contact between Japan and the rest of the world comes an increasingly important need to understand a society that is fascinating but still often confusing to the outsider. In this brand new fourth edition of Understanding Japanese Society Joy Hendry brings the reader up to date both with recent changes as Japan hit the world headlines under the triple 2011 disasters, and with underlying continuities in ways of thinking that have matured over a long history of dealing with foreign influences and an unpredictable environment. 

This welcome new edition of Hendry’s bestselling introductory textbook provides a clear, accessible and readable introduction to Japanese society which does not require any previous knowledge of the country. Fully updated, revised and expanded, the fourth edition contains new material on:

  • the effects of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters of 2011
  • a renewed interest in politics and popular participation
  • increased frequency of local spiritual support as unemployment continues to grow, and marriage gets later and later 
  • the effects of a dramatic drop in the birth rate on Japan’s education system
  • the continuing global success of Japanese animation, manga and computer games despite a turn away from international travel
  • the cool new Ainu, the attraction of healing Okinawa, and changes among other Japanese minorities
  • a new role for Japanese fathers in child-rearing

This book will be invaluable to all students studying Japan. It will also enlighten those travellers and business people wishing to gain an understanding of the Japanese people.


A comprehensive and coherent approach to understanding Japanese society … It is a well-crafted introductory book on Japanese society with a strong emphasis on understanding through intimate observation … this book should be prominent on many reading lists in its own right.' - Sociology

`As our contact with Japan increases, books like this one and the course that inspired it, serve a valuable role in opening up the barriers to understanding.' - - Times Higher Education Supplement

"The author's competence and breadth of knowledge are impressive, and I would have been hard-pressed to find a more suitable guide to introduce me to life in Japan. The bibliography leaves nothing to be desired, and very much fits the metaphor of a branching tree, inviting the reader to explore any branch which he or she finds attractive.

The author also convincingly states her case about some ingrained principles of Japanese society which can be glimpsed in all walks of life in Japan.

The new edition is thoroughly revised, with references to works and studies as recent as 2002, and seems very up to date.

…To sum-up, I would recommend this book as a starting point for any particular subject you find interesting or intriguing about Japanese life, and as a quick yet thorough review of life in Japan." -- learnasecondlanguageguide.com

"Overall, I found this book an engaging journey through the complexities of Japanese society. The book challenges the reader to reflect on differences and similarities between Eastern and Western concepts, views, and patterns of behavior. As a textbook for a student with some familiarity with Japanese culture but not much in-depth knowledge, this book is indispensable, as it offers a glimpse into a wide variety of topics which can be studied in more depth, especially if supplemented by the additional readings or films listed under the references." - Ilana Maymind, PhD, Ohio State University, Journal of International and Global Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Sources of Japanese Identity 2. The House and Family System 3. Socialisation and Classification 4. Community and Neighbourhood 5. The Education System 6. Status, Hierarchy and Ethnic Diversity 7. Religious Influences 8. Ritual and the Life Cycle 9. Opportunities for Working Life 10. Arts, Entertainment and Leisure 11. Government and the Craft of Politics 12. The Legal System and Social Control. Conclusion

About the Author

Joy Hendry is Professor Emerita at Oxford Brookes University, UK.

About the Series

Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General