The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture

Ruth Benedict

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The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword Patterns of Japanese Culture A recognized classic of cultural anthropology this book explores the political religious and economic life of Japan from the seventh century through the mid twentieth as well as personal family li

  • Title: The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture
  • Author: Ruth Benedict
  • ISBN: 9780395500750
  • Page: 362
  • Format: Paperback
  • A recognized classic of cultural anthropology, this book explores the political, religious, and economic life of Japan from the seventh century through the mid twentieth, as well as personal family life.

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    One thought on “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture

    1. Jan-Maat on said:

      Some hesitation.Let me begin on the day I bought the Invention of Nature, once packed away in my satchel I, like the chicken in the joke, crossed the road and entered a second-hand bookshelf, there I spied this book, it rang a bell, but distantly, I left I think only with the aforementioned Sorel: Europe and the French Revolution and maybe something else because “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a book, must be in want of several more" (view spoiler)[ [...]

    2. Hadrian on said:

      I'm not normally one to rely on sales figures as a measure of a book's value, but this book sold millions of copies not only in Japan, but six-figures-worth in the People's Republic of China and South Korea as well.I can't exactly vouch for the book's total accuracy, and her look at Japan is largely from secondary sources and pre-1945. Very different from the Japan of today. As far as I can tell, Benedict is most on point about hierarchy and the past importance of the emperor. The ideas of socia [...]

    3. Olivier Delaye on said:

      One of the greatest books on Japanese culture out there, and still very relevant today. If you love Japan or are simply interested to know more about this fascinating country, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword is a must-read and re-read.

    4. AC on said:

      This book is a masterpiece. Each time a height has been scaled and the reader returns to the valley, he sees yet another, taller peak on the horizon. It is essential reading.Benedict is an anthropologist -- though I've read a good amount of anthropology, I had never read Patterns of Culture. And I was somewhat skeptical, remembering the bland cover of Patterns on the old copy my father had when I was a child. But Benedict writes with such depth and intelligence and broad vision that I now see th [...]

    5. David on said:

      It's a total secret, but the island nation of Japan and I have one of those "if we’re both single in 2015 let's get married" things. If it comes to that, and on the strength of "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword", I've decided that Ruth Benedict can do the reading.Because her book is Yum, Yum, absolute Yum. It is a complete guilty pleasure. Reading this book I felt like a dog rolling around in something absolutely disgusting. But I just couldn't stop. Ruth's milkshake brings all the Japonophiles [...]

    6. Shari on said:

      I was wondering Could a treatise on an entire country and its people, no matter how beautifully worded and presented, be objective ifa) the author of the said treatise didn't live in that country b) the author is from the victorious country (Who was it who said that history is written by the victors?)c) the country being analyzed was, in many years of its history, closed to the outside world (Was it James Michener who claimed that Japan had put up one of the most effective iron curtains in the h [...]

    7. umberto on said:

      3.5 starsFirst published in 1946, this 13-chapter classic "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" by Dr Ruth Benedict having never been to Japan herself has still inspired and informed its readers more as one of the 'Nihonjinron' books (enpedia/wiki/Nihonjinron) popularly written, published and read after World War II. This formidable study "reprinted over fifty times" assigned by the US Office of War Information was "to spell out what the Japanese were like" (back cover) by means of all the technique [...]

    8. Hieu Cao on said:

      I learn more from how my classmates respond to this book than from reading the book itself. The reason is not difficult to understand. Japanese culture is fairly familiar with me through manga, anime and the zeal about Japan in Vietnam several years ago. Also, despite its distinctive culture, Japan shares with other East Asian countries the philosophy of Buddhism and Confucianism which integrate so deeply in those countries' social life. On the other hand, how the Western perceive the Eastern is [...]

    9. Lyn Elliott on said:

      Excellent. Proper review to come, after I’ve gone through it again and made notes at all the places I’ve marked - the book is bulging with post-its.

    10. Alex on said:

      An intriguing book, but there is no way to ignore the many false premises upon which this book is based, the pitifully scant citations (very disappointing in an academic work- she could have made the entire book up, for all we know), and the painfully sweeping generalizations which do their best to paint Japan as a nation as uniform and alien as possible. Based on secondhand reports from expatriates living in internment camps, Westerners who had spent time in Japan, and Japanese prisoners of war [...]

    11. Patrick McCoy on said:

      The Chrysanthemum and the Sword is a seminal study of Japanese culture by Ruth Benedict who was commissioned by the US government to study Japanese culture in order to understand how to govern it after WWII. It turns out that she was a colleague of the infamous Margaret Mead, and like Mead I’m not sure her legacy is completely positive. She is most famous for her analysis of Japan as a culture of shame in relations to western cultures, which are cultures of guilt. However, many of her observat [...]

    12. Velvetea on said:

      ASTONISHING how this book taught me so much about Japanese culture that 1 year and 4 months living here hadn't yet fully showed meUsually strictly informational books don't grab me this much, but I was entranced with each sentence, read most of it open-mouthed, and I copied down so many quotes that by the end I had a book of my own!! I strongly recommend this to anyone with an interest in Japanese society, and especially how it opposes Western thinking. I recommend it even MORE strongly to those [...]

    13. Tô on said:

      Mục lục sách:Chương I: Nhiệm vụ: Nhật BảnChương II: Người Nhật trong chiến tranhChương III: Người nào chỗ nấy/Người nào phận nấyChương IV: Cuộc Duy tân Minh TrịChương V: Kẻ mang nợ của lịch sử và thế giớiChương VI: Đền ơn trong muôn mộtChương VII: Sự đền đáp "cái khó nhận nhất"Chương VIII: Gột rửa thanh danhChương IX: Thế giới cảm xúc của con ngườiChương X: Vấn đề nan giải của [...]

    14. Emilie (Emmitouflee) on said:

      First of all, Ruth Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum and the Sword does a decent job of a difficult task which is to conduct an ethnographical study of a culture and country that one has never lived in. I found the book to be engaging and well-written, if at times slightly protractive and repetitive. I admired the dearth in judgmental statements, and how in her preamble, Benedict emphasized the importance of looking at something with an open-mind or generosity that will allow for better understandi [...]

    15. Ng on said:

      It seems the author was pulled into the war effort as a sort of military anthropologist - Japanese military decisions were so difficult for the Allies to understand that they needed academic help!It's amazing what a different world she paints. Japan was within one lifetime of being forced out of isolation at the time, and she really shows the link between their World War II thinking and their old ways. And she doesn't simplify the old ways as being just one construct: she discusses how the ascen [...]

    16. Govinda Parasrampuria on said:

      The history part was informative and interesting to some extent, but the explanation of Japanese people's behavior was just too condescending IMO. I'm currently living in Japan, and I don't think much of it is accurate. I daresay the book is heavily outdated.It got sooo boring at the halfway mark, it was taking me forever to make progress. After putting me sleep for several weeks, I finally decided to quit on this book. The fact that the version I read had so many typographical errors didn't hel [...]

    17. Timothy Ratliffe on said:

      Anyone who has associated with the Japanese people would find this book interesting. The author wrote this book without visiting Japan as part of the MacArthur occupation after WWII, and yet it is still an exceptional effort to define the cultural forces at work on the Japanese before WWII, and perhaps still. However, the book requires a lot of concentration while reading because the concepts presented are so complex and unfamiliar. I appreciated the book as I have some history in dealing with t [...]

    18. Caligula on said:

      A very detailed account of Japanese culture that was praised by Yukio Mishima for capturing the essence of Japan and the explanation behind what may seem to any American "strange" and even "brutal" codes of living. A must read for anyone interested in Japan. Although he is not mentioned in the book, it brings an understanding of Yukio Mishima's self-torture, eccentricity, and militant passion for "old" Japan and the code by which they lived.

    19. David Haws on said:

      In 1944, many Americans were having the Ramen-Varelse argument about Japan—debating if a dialog were even possible. Benedict recognizes her limitations (secondary and questionable data) and produces a thoughtful analysis.

    20. Truncarlos on said:

      Mucho más interesante por la profundidad del análisis que por el contenido de algunas conclusiones que saca al respecto.

    21. Frank McAdam on said:

      As an anthropologist, Ruth Benedict was more or less conscripted during World War II to do ethnological research into the Japanese character in order to provide the US government with an understanding how best to fight the Japanese and so win the war. The major problem Benedict faced was the inability to do true field research at a time when travel to Japan itself was impossible. Instead, she was forced to rely on interviews with Japanese POW's and those held in internment camps within the US. T [...]

    22. Anna on said:

      Ruth Benedictová ve své dálkové studii Japonska podává vskutku brilantní výkon v zachycování nejen kultury, ale i nastínění každodenního života. Japonská kultura, diametrálně odlišná od té americké, musí být těžká na pochopení pro člena jakékoliv jiné společnosti a autorka ve své knize pokrývá snad všechny důležité oblasti života. Vysvětluje od počátků vzorce myšlení Japonců a čtenáři chápání usnadňuje i častým srovnáváním s kulturou am [...]

    23. Jamie on said:

      Well written and lucid in its explanations, this is a fairly outdated exposition of the Japanese culture (or rather the national character of its people) circa 1946, immediately after the war. Things have changed dramatically since then, and I'm sure Benedict would hardly recognise the people she studied so closely in pre-War Japan. However, the principles and values that she highlights are still alive and well, in my experience with Japanese nationals. This was a key reading for a module in Jap [...]

    24. Jysoo on said:

      I was not sure what to expect when I started to read this book on Japanese culture written by an American scholar of Ruth Benedict. As a Korean, the culture of my country is closer to that of Japan than the States, and I was not sure whether there is something I can learn from the book. I was plain wrong --- I thoroughly learned the value of “outside” opinion. I guess there are points she didn’t get right, but it is her who pointed out many important issues of Japanese culture which people [...]

    25. Hitz on said:

      Una muy buena aproximación a la cultura japonesa de 1945.Se trata de las conclusiones de un estudio que se realizó a distancia. Hay que tener en cuenta que había una guerra de por medio y que en principio, el estudio se realizaba para uno de los lados en conflicto. Ruth Benedict estudió toda la información y publicaciones japonesas que tuvo a su disposición en EEUU y entrevistó a japoneses que vivían en este país. A mí me parece que hasta entonces nunca nadie los había explicado tanto [...]

    26. Edward on said:

      A foundational work in Japanese culture studies and Japan-America cultural understanding. Whatever you think of Benedict's theories, her ideas helped shape American post-war understanding of the Japanese people. What MacArthur and GHQ did at the political level, this book did at the academic one. Published in the aftermath of the Pacific War in 1946, it goes without saying that some of the contents are outdated. Many of the social shifts Benedict's work foreshadowed in the 1940s have since matur [...]

    27. Edgar Lorenzo Matos on said:

      Análisis sumamente interesante de la mentalidad japonesa. Eso sí, hay que tener en cuenta la época en que se hizo y que está estudiando a Japón en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Así que la visión que da de ellos es bastante más autoritaria y dura que la que tiene hoy en día. Sin embargo, dichas afirmaciones se hacen dentro de la información que la autora pudo obtener, así que no es fruto de estereotipos. Además, esto no quita que aunque muchos aspectos se hayan perdido en la mentalidad j [...]

    28. molly on said:

      A sociological analysis of the nature of the Japanese written immediately after the Second World War. Really strikes me most as a comparative analysis of the cultural attitudes of Americans and Japanese of that era. An interesting look into how a moral code can differ in every way and still be valid. However, many parts are extremely outdated. The most obvious is the highly touted “high birth rate” of the Japanese, which could not contrast more strongly with the current situation. This analy [...]

    29. Yuki koj on said:

      I read the Japanese translation with notes on inaccuracies in the American author's understanding of Japan's history and proses which was helpful as I would have never picked up on them reading the American English version on my own.The author explains that we learn our cultural perspective/discernment thru which we view everything. As such, the book is an American comparative view of Japan around WW2. I found most interesting her discussion that Americans view things as good/evil where the Japa [...]

    30. T B on said:

      I read this book to understand the culture of Japan and the mindset of the Japanese people. It did help me but I found it a hard book to read. She didn't follow a logical order as the book progressed and seemed to jump from subject to subject without explanation. She did have some fascinating insights about the Emperor, the military and how individuals sublimate their interests to the interests of the society. Too bad there was a lot of difficult reading in between those insights.

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