Japan: The Basics

Japan: The Basics, is an engaging introduction to the culture, society and the global positioning of Japan. Taking a fresh look at stereotypes associated with Japan, it provides a well-rounded introduction to a constantly evolving country. It addresses such questions as:

  • How do we go about studying Japan?
  • What are the connections between popular culture and wider Japanese society?
  • How are core values about identity formed and what are their implications?
  • How does Japan react to natural and manmade disasters?
  • How does nature influence Japanese attitudes to the environment?
  • What does the symbolism of cherry blossom tell us about Japan?

With exercises and discussion points throughout and suggestions for further reading, Japan: The Basics is an ideal starting point for all those studying Japan in its global, cultural context.

The book is a part of Routledge’s The Basics series. The Basics is a highly successful series of accessible guidebooks which provide an overview of the fundamental principles of a subject area in a jargon-free and undaunting format. They are intended for readers coming to a subject for the first time which usually means a combination of students, particularly undergraduates or high school students, and general readers. Rather than trying to provide all the answers about Japan, it puts greater emphasis on trying to help provide new students of Japan with the right questions and ways of studying Japan.

Although the book may be considered a textbook, it also includes a lot of original research and is in many ways a culmination of all of my 37 visits to Japan up to 2014 rather than the result of a single project or one fieldwork trip. What is contained within this book is born from over 25 years of studying the country and the language. It has been shaped by own studies and by hearing the work of other academics at conferences and reading their books, chapters and articles. It is also inspired by the teaching that I have been doing for about 20 years.

Colour photographs taken by me that are used in the book are available here.

I am currently working on a second edition of Japan: The Basics, with the aim for it to be published in 2023. In the meantime, please continue to use and recommend the first edition.