Japan: In the Land of the Brokenhearted

Michael Shapiro, Author Henry Holt & Company $19.45 (245p) ISBN 978-0-8050-0395-6
A foreigner's love of Japan is rarely reciprocated, asserts journalist Shapiro after five years spent there, beginning in 1984, with his wife Susan Chira, a New York Times reporter. The author offers not only his own acute observations and those of Lafcadio Hearn, extensively cited, but reports the firsthand experiences of five American residents--a Japanese baseball team member, a businessman, a missionary couple and a defiant English teacher, who faced prison rather than be fingerprinted. Shapiro recreates revealing episodes in which, with only partial success, these expatriates sought acceptance by a remote, highly conformist, unpredictable people whose xenophobia extends to other Asiatics and to Japanese who have lived abroad. The Japanese, Shapiro observes, echoing a now conventional consensus, value obligation above love, and subordinate the individual to the group (and to any superior), whether in school, athletics or business. Perhaps, he theorizes, the constant threat of natural disasters has caused the Japanese to fear change of any kind. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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