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The taming of the samurai : honorific individualism and the marking of modern Japan / Eiko Ikegami

Main Author Ikegami, Eiko Country Estados Unidos. Publication Cambridge : Harvard University Press, cop. 1995 Description X, 428 p. : il. ; 24 cm ISBN 0-674-86809-9 CDU 952
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Monografia Biblioteca Fernão Mendes Pinto
BFMP-LCO 952 - I Perdido | Lost Indisponível | Not available 346769
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Modern Japan offers us a view of a highly developed society with its own internal logic. Eiko Ikegami makes this logic accessible to us through a sweeping investigation into the roots of Japanese organizational structures. She accomplishes this by focusing on the diverse roles that the samurai have played in Japanese history. From their rise in ancient Japan, through their dominance as warrior lords in the medieval period, and their subsequent transformation to quasi-bureaucrats at the beginning of the Tokugawa era, the samurai held center stage in Japan until their abolishment after the opening up of Japan in the mid-nineteenth century.

This book demonstrates how Japan's so-called harmonious collective culture is paradoxically connected with a history of conflict. Ikegami contends that contemporary Japanese culture is based upon two remarkably complementary ingredients, honorable competition and honorable collaboration. The historical roots of this situation can be found in the process of state formation, along very different lines from that seen in Europe at around the same time. The solution that emerged out of the turbulent beginnings of the Tokugawa state was a transformation of the samurai into a hereditary class of vassal-bureaucrats, a solution that would have many unexpected ramifications for subsequent centuries.

Ikegami's approach, while sociological, draws on anthropological and historical methods to provide an answer to the question of how the Japanese managed to achieve modernity without traveling the route taken by Western countries. The result is a work of enormous depth and sensitivity that will facilitate a better understanding of, and appreciation for, Japanese society.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • I A Sociological Approach
  • Introduction
  • 1 Honor, State Formation, and Social Theories
  • II Origins in Violence
  • 2 The Coming of the Samurai: Violence and Culture in the Ancient World
  • 3 Vassalage and Honor
  • 4 The Rite of Honorable Death: Warfare and the Samurai Sensibility
  • III Disintegration and Reorganization
  • 5 Social Reorganization in the Late Medieval Period
  • 6 A Society Organized for War
  • IV The Paradoxical Nature of Tokugawa

Reviews provided by Syndetics


Ikegami assesses Japan's capitalist economy from a new angle: she analyzes the cultural development of the Japanese samurai and "honor culture." Japanese society, with its own internal logic, can be understood by studying how the once-violent samurai tradition was tamed through centuries of nation-building. Ikegami's approach is basically sociological, but she also draws heavily on anthropological and historical methods. She begins with a chapter entitled "Honor, State Formation, and Social Theories," taking the reader through the origins of the state in violence, its disintegration and reorganization, and the paradoxical nature of Tokugawa state formation and honor polarization in vassalic bureaucracy. Ikegami ends with the chapter, "Honorific Individualism and Honorific Collectivism." She rejects the simplistic assumption that Japan's industrialization followed the West as a model, and answers the enigma of Japan by pointing out the diverse role the samurai played through different periods, emerging as quasi-bureaucrats at the beginning of Tokugawa. This book is a must for those who hope to understand Japan, particularly those who wish to know why Japan succeeded in its industrialization effort and how the otherwise paradoxical sense of collectivism versus individualism exists in Japan. General readers; upper-division undergraduates and above. M. Y. Rynn; University of Scranton

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