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Encyclopedia of contemporary Japanese culture /

Format: Book
Language: English
Published: London ; New York : Routledge, 2002
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Review by Choice Review

The title is misleading, perhaps intentionally. Buckley states in the introduction that "there is a clear focus on gender, minority" issues and on alternative movements, hence the intent is not to provide a true cross-section of Japanese culture but information about topics outside the mainstream. There is also a problem with currency. While music is highlighted in the introduction as an important part of contemporary culture, there are no entries for recent pop artists, but performers from the 1970s are well represented. Likewise, several recent works by contemporary authors are not mentioned. Topics one expects to find as main entries (e.g., yakuza) can be located only by means of the relatively thorough index. Other current terms (e.g., kogyaru, ganguro) are absent altogether. Some illustrations would have enhanced the text; there are none. Substantially fewer than half the contributors are Japanese, which indicates a cultural bias. The binding and the paper are not commensurate with the price. Finally, for any topic in this volume, a well-planned Web search would be more productive. Not recommended. M. M. Bohn University of Nebraska at Omaha

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

A fascinating culture balancing traditional and modern elements, a history of intense American-Japanese relations dating back to Commodore Perry, and, despite a downturn well into its second decade, being one of the world's top economic powers are more than enough reasons to welcome an encyclopedia of contemporary Japanese culture. Editor Buckley, who has written several hundred of the more than 750 signed articles, has combined with Routledge, a leading publisher of studies on contemporary Japan, to produce a valuable addition to library reference collections. More than 100 contributors, largely affiliated with American, Japanese, Australian, and Canadian universities, provide entries on topics ranging from important personalities, cities and districts, organizations, and industries to Arranged marriages, Baseball, Dialects, Foreign food, Installation art, Manga (comic books), Mobile telephones, Peace and anti-nuclear movements, Sex tourism, Textbook controversies, and Zen.Some of the more surprising entries for Westerners only marginally familiar with Japan include Bedridden patients, Beer, Brazilian Japanese, Christmas, Coffee, Pickles, and Whiskey. Articles range in length from a paragraph to several pages, and each is followed by a list for further reading. There are see alsoreferences at the end of many articles, cross-references between articles, and boldfaced words within articles to indicate topics with main entries. Articles cover the period from 1945 through the end of the century, adding historical perspective where necessary. Romaji(romanized transliteration of Japanese) is used throughout, and Japanese names are given in Japanese order (i.e., family name first). The complete absence of illustrations may deter browsers. Two recommended encyclopedias that take in the whole scope of Japanese history and culture are the profusely illustrated Cambridge Encyclopedia of Japan(Cambridge, 1993)and Boye Lafayette De Mente's lightly illustrated Japan Encyclopedia (Passport, 1995). Neither is as up-to-date nor has the depth of post-1945 focus as Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture, which is recommended for larger public and academic libraries. RBB.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

This compilation of over 700 signed articles, from "Abacus" to "Zuno Keisatsu" (Japan's first punk band), is the work of over 100 contributors drawn mostly from the academic ranks in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan. "Contemporary" is here defined as "since 1945," but the coverage is broad and understandably somewhat unpredictable. There are geographical entries ("Mt. Fuji," "Osaka"), biographical entries (strong on writers, musicians, film personalities, and artists), and entries for food, Nintendo, Pokemon, and even the Hanshin Earthquake and the Lockheed scandal. Editor Buckley (Broken Silence: Voice of Japanese Feminism) contributes a large number of entries herself. Cross references and bibliographical references abound, and the writing is clear and balanced, though some entries would have benefited from more statistics (e.g., "Divorce," "Christianity in Japan"). Competitors include such sources as Mark Schilling's more narrowly focused The Encyclopedia of Japanese Pop Culture and James Huffman's broader Modern Japan: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Nationalism. The absence of illustrative materials and the high price may limit the appeal of this work for smaller public libraries, but overall it makes for an inviting starting point and is a delight to browse. A solid choice for academic libraries supporting Asian studies, though smaller libraries will probably be better served by Schilling. Harold M. Otness, formerly with Southern Oregon Univ. Lib., Ashland (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.