Japaneseness: A Guide to Values and Virtues

japanesenessthree-stars /5

By taking a close look at 76 core values of Japanese culture, author Yoji Yamakuse both offers an informative window into Japanese culture and raises the questions of what constitutes “Japaneseness” and how this fits with the modern era. In the end, all the cultural values in traditional Japanese society come back to harmony and the seamless cooperation of values within this system leads to an overall tranquil culture. This interaction of values eventually leads to a development of virtue and an appreciation of beauty. Among the ideas examined are thoughtfulness, moderation, temperance, and devotion.

Japaneseness presents an interesting perspective on Japanese culture. It is written in very short sections, which makes it the perfect bedside book–read a little and then mull it over as you’re waiting for sleep to quell your mind. I can see the practicality of many of the values discussed in this book, but somehow I doubt they could be applied to my on life with much success. It very much felt like I was reading about another culture, rather than reading how to adapt the values of another culture to my own. Still, it was eye-opening and resolved a lot of misconceptions I held without even realizing it.


Originally published on San Francisco Book Review.

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