The Culture of Copying in Japan

Critical and Historical Perspectives

Edited by Rupert Cox

© 2008 – Routledge

276 pages | 69 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415545396
pub: 2009-05-12
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415307529
pub: 2007-09-13
US Dollars$158.00

About the Book

This book challenges the perception of Japan as a ‘copying culture’ through a series of detailed ethnographic and historical case studies.

It addresses a question about why the West has had such a fascination for the adeptness with which the Japanese apparently assimilate all things foreign and at the same time such a fear of their skill at artificially remaking and automating the world around them. Countering the idea of a Japan that deviously or ingenuously copies others, it elucidates the history of creative exchanges with the outside world and the particular myths, philosophies and concepts which are emblematic of the origins and originality of copying in Japan. The volume demonstrates the diversity and creativity of copying in the Japanese context through the translation of a series of otherwise loosely related ideas and concepts into objects, images, texts and practices of reproduction, which include: shamanic theatre, puppetry, tea utensils, Kyoto town houses, architectural models, genres of painting, calligraphy, and poetry, ‘sample’ food displays, and the fashion and car industries.


"This is anexcellent survey detailing Japanese learning and the transmission of, especially, ‘traditional’ knowledge by and for East Asianists in the arts and humanities." - Mitchell W. Sedgwick, Oxford Brookes University, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Institute, Issue 16:3

Table of Contents

Series Editor’s Preface Joy Hendry. Introduction Rupert Cox Section 1: Original Encounters 1. Body to Body Transmission: The Copying Tradition of Kagura Performance Irit Averbuch 2. A Spectrum of Copies: Ritual Puppetry in Japan Jane Marie Law 3. Copying in Japanese Magazines: Unashamed Copiers Keiko Tanaka Section 2: Arts of Citation 4. The Originality of the ‘Copy’: Mimesis and Subversion in Hanegawa Toei’s Chosenjin Ukie Ronald Toby 5. Copy to Convert: Jesuits’ Missionary Practice in Japan Alexandra Curvelo 6. Back to the Fundamentals: "Reproducing" Rikyu and Chojiro in Japanese Tea Culture Morgan Pitelka 7. An Investigation of the Conditions of Literary Borrowings in Late Heian and Early Kamakura Japan Rein Raud 8. Chinese Calligraphic Models in Heian Japan: Copying Practices and Stylistic Transmission John Carpenter Section 3: Modern Exchanges 9. Beyond Mimesis: Japanese Architectural Models at the Vienna Exhibition and 1910 Japan British Exhibition William Coaldrake 10. Copying Kyoto: The Legitimacy of Imitation in Kyoto’s Townscape Debates Christoph Brumann 11.Copying Cars: Forgotten Licensing Agreements Chris Madeley 12. ‘Hungry Visions’: The Material Life of Japanese Food Samples Rupert Cox

About the Editor

Rupert Cox is Lecturer in Visual Anthropology, Director of the MA programme at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester, UK. He is the author of The Zen Arts: An anthropological study of the culture of aesthetic form in Japan (Routledge, 2002).

About the Series

Japan Anthropology Workshop Series

Editorial Board:
Pamela Asquith, University of Alberta
Eyal Ben Ari, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hirochika Nakamaki, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka

Kirsten Refsing, University of Copenhagen
Wendy Smith, Monash University

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 (

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Customs & Traditions
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General