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Nihonjinron (日本人論, "theories/discussions about the Japanese") is a genre of texts that focus on issues of Japanese national and cultural identity.

The concept became popular after World War II, with books and articles aiming to analyze, explain, or explore peculiarities of Japanese culture and mentality, usually by comparison with those of Europe and North America. The literature is vast, ranging over such varied fields as sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, linguistics, philosophy, biology, chemistry and physics so in addition to the common generic word nihonjinron, a variety of topical subgenres exist, divided up by specific theme or subject-matter. For example:

  • shinfūdoron (新風土論): "new theories on climate" (implying the influence of climate on peoples)
  • nihonbunkaron (日本文化論): "theories on Japanese culture"
  • nihonshakairon (日本社会論): "theories on Japanese society"
  • nihonron (日本論): "theories on Japan"
  • nihonkeizairon (日本経済論): "theories on the Japanese economy"

Books written by non-Japanese authors may also be classed as nihonjinron, if they share, contribute to, or reflect the vision, premises, and perspectives characteristic of the Japanese genre.


Hiroshi Minami, one of the foremost scholars of the genre, states in his survey:

It is also possible to trace back and locate works worthy of the name "nihonjinron" to the Edo period and even before that.[1]

The roots of the nihonjinron be traced back at least to the kokugaku ("national studies") movement of the 18th century, with themes that are not dissimilar to those in the post-war nihonjinron.

Early themes[edit]

The problem of Japanese identity in much of the early period is in terms of the local traditions and the powerful influence of Chinese culture, for example the revolt of the anti-Buddhist Mononobe and Nakatomi clans against the pro-Buddhist Soga clan, which had sponsored the introduction of not only Buddhist metaphysics but also Chinese statecraft into Japan in the 6th century.[citation needed]

Later, Kitabatake Chikafusa (1293–1354) wrote his Jinnō Shōtōki ("Chronicles of the Authentic Lineages of the Divine Emperors") which defines Japan's superiority in terms of the divinity of its imperial line and the divinity of the nation itself (Shinkoku). The general drift of such works is to pull the abstract, universal language and thought of Japan's foreign models down to earth, to reframe it in Japanese conditions, among the illiterate population at large, and assert the special historical characteristics of Japan as opposed to the civilizations which had, until that time, endowed the country with the lineaments of a universalist culture.[2]

In the 16th century European contacts with Japan gave rise to a considerable literature by travelers and foreign missionaries on the Japanese, their culture, behavior, and patterns of thinking. In turn this had some impact on Japanese self-images, when this material began to be read by many Japanese after the Meiji Restoration; and this tradition of cross-cultural discourse forms an important background component in the rise of the modern nihonjinron.


Kokugaku, beginning as a scholarly investigation into the philology of Japan's early classical literature, sought to recover and evaluate these texts, some of which were obscure and difficult to read, in order to appraise them positively and harvest them to determine and ascertain what were the original indigenous values of Japan before the introduction of Chinese civilization. Thus the exploration of early classical texts like the Kojiki and the Man'yōshū allowed scholars of Kokugaku, particularly the five great figures of Keichū (1640–1701), Kada no Azumamaro (1669–1736), Kamo no Mabuchi (1697–1769), Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801) and Hirata Atsutane (1776–1843)[3] to explore Japan's cultural differences with China, locate their sources in high antiquity, and deploy the results in a programmatic attempt to define the uniqueness of Japan against a foreign civilization. These scholars worked independently, and reached different conclusions, but by the 19th century were grouped together by a neo-Kokugakuist named Konakamura to establish the earliness of Japanese self-awareness.[4] Implicitly or otherwise, they advocated a return to these ostensibly pristine ethnic roots, which involved discarding the incrustations of those Chinese cultural beliefs, social rites and philosophical ideas that had exercised a political ascendancy for over a millennium within Japan and had deeply informed the neo-Confucian ideology of the Tokugawa regime itself.

The irony was that the intellectual techniques, textual methods and cultural strategies used by nativist scholars against Confucianism borrowed heavily from currents in both Chinese thought (Taoist, Confucian and Buddhist) and their Japanese offshoots. Motoori, the greatest nativist scholar, is deeply indebted, for instance, to the thought of Ogyū Sorai the most penetrating Confucian thinker of Tokugawa times. In similar wise, scholars detect in modern Japanese nationalism, of which the nihonjinron are the resonant if melodiously subdued, post-war echo, many features that derived from borrowings abroad, from the large resources of cultural nationalism mined in European countries during their own respective periods of nation-formation. Under the alias of assertions of difference, nationalisms, in Japan as elsewhere, borrow promiscuously from each other's conceptual hoards, and what may seem alien turns out often to be, once studied closely, merely an exotic variation on an all too familiar theme.[citation needed]

Meiji period[edit]

In the second half of the 19th century, under strong military and diplomatic pressure, and suffering from an internal crisis that led to the collapse of the Bakufu, Japan opened its ports, and subsequently the nation, to commerce with the outside world and reform that sought to respond vigorously to the challenges of modern industrial polities, as they were remarked on by Japanese observers in the United States and Europe. The preponderant place of China as model and cultural adversary in the cognitive models developed hitherto was occupied by the West. But, whereas Japan's traditional engagement with Chinese civilization was conducted in terms of a unilateral debate, now Japanese scholars and thinkers could read directly what Westerners, themselves fascinated by the 'exoticism' of Japanese culture, said and wrote of them. Japanese contact with, and responses to these emerging Western stereotypes, which reflected the superiority complex, condescension and imperial hauteur of the times, fed into Japanese debates on national identity. As Leslie Pincus puts it, speaking of a later phase:

one might say that Japanese travelers reappropriated Japan from Europe as an exoticized object. Just as ukiyo-e were first reimported back into Japan from Paris museums and private European collections after World War 1, less tangible aspects of the cultural past were newly rediscovered by Japanese visitors in Europe. But whether material or ethereal, the artifacts of Japanese culture had become indelibly inflected by Europe's fascination with, or depreciation of, one of its cultural others.[5]

There ensued an intense period of massive social and economic change, as, under the direction of a developmental elite, Japan moved from the closed world of centuries of Tokugawa rule (the so-called sakoku period) to Meiji Westernization, and, again in close conformity with the prevailing occidental paradigm, to imperialist adventurism with the growth of the colonialism. The Taishō period marked a slightly more 'liberal' turn, as the pendulum swung towards a renewed interest in the Western model ("Japan must undergo a second birth, with America as its new mother and France as its father"). With the crisis of 1929 and the concomitant depression of the 1930s, militarism gained the upper hand in this era of the 'dark valley' (暗い谷間, kurai tanima), and nationalistic ideologies prevailed over all attempts to keep alive the moderate traditions of liberal modernity.

Postwar period[edit]

Total economic, military and spiritual mobilization could not stave off defeat however, and slowly, under occupation, and then rapidly with its reasserted independence, Japan enjoyed a decades-long resurgence as global industrial and economic powerhouse until the crisis of the 1990s. The cultural patterns over this century long trajectory is one of a continuous oscillation between models of pronounced Westernization and traditionalist autarky. Between the two alternatives, attempts were frequently made to mediate a conciliatory third way which would combine the best of both worlds: "Japanese spirit and Western techniques" (和魂洋才, wakon yōsai).[6]

The frequency of these chronic transitional upheavals engendered a remarkable intensity of debate about national directions and identity (国民性 kokuminsei; 民族性 minzokusei), whose complexity over time renders a synthetic judgment or bird's-eye view of the literature in question rather difficult. A major controversy surrounds the question regarding the affiliation of the post-war nihonjinron theories with the prewar conceptualization of Japanese cultural uniqueness. To what degree, that is, are these meditations under democracy on Japanese uniqueness innocent reflections of a popular search for identity, and in what measure, if any, do they pick up from the instrumental ideology of Japaneseness developed by the government and nationalists in the prewar period to harness the energies of the nation towards industrialization and global imperium?

The questions are rendered more complex by the fact that in the early post-war period, the restoration of a 'healthy nationalism' was by no means something exclusive to right-wing cultural thinkers. An intense debate over the necessity to develop ideal, positive forms of national consciousness, regarded as a healthy civic identity, figures prominently in the early writings of Maruyama Masao, who called for a healthy "national civic consciousness" (国民主義, kokuminshugi), and in the prolific debates of members of the Japanese Historical Science Association (歴研, rekiken) who preferred to speak of "ethnic national consciousness" (民族主義, minzokushugi). These debates ranged from liberal center-left critics to radical Marxist historians.[7]

Some scholars cite the destruction of many Japanese national symbols and the psychological blow of defeat at the end of World War II as one source of nihonjinron's enduring popularity, although it is not a uniquely 20th century phenomenon. In fact the genre is simply the Japanese reflex of cultural nationalism, which is a property of all modern nations. The trend of the tone of nihonjinron argument is often reflective of the Japanese society at the time. Peter N. Dale, covering the period analysed by the Nomura survey, distinguished three major phases in the development of post-war nihonjinron discourse:

  • First phase (1945–1960): Dominance of the Western model with a concomitant repudiation of Japanese specificity.
  • Second phase (1960–1970): Recognition of historical relativity, of certain defects in Western industrial society, and certain merits in Japanese traditions, as they are re-engineered in Japanese modernization.
  • Third phase (1970–?): Recognition of Japanese specificity as a positive model for a uniquely Japanese road towards modernity and its global outreach.[8]

Tamotsu Aoki subsequently finessed the pattern by distinguishing four major phases in the post war identity discourse.[9]

In Dale's proposal, this drift from negative uniqueness to positive evaluation of uniqueness is a cyclical trend, since he believes the same pattern can be detected in the literature on identity for the period from 1867 to 1945, from early Meiji times down to the end of World War Two. Nihonjinron, in Dale's view, recycle prewar Japanese nationalist rhetoric, and betray similar ends. For Aoki, contrariwise, they are natural movements in a national temper which seeks, as has been the case with other nations, its own distinctive path of cultural autonomy and social organization as Japan adapts itself to the global world order forged by the West.

During the early post-war period, most of nihonjinron discourses discussed the uniqueness of the Japanese in a rather negative, critical light. The elements of feudalism reminiscent of the Imperial Japan were all castigated as major obstacles to Japan's reestablishment as a new democratic nation. Scholars such as Hisao Ōtsuka, a Weberian sociologist, judged Japan with the measure of rational individualism and liberal democracy that were considered ideals in the U.S. and Western European nations back then.[10] By the 1970s, however, with Japan enjoying a remarkable economic boom, Ōtsuka began to consider the 'feudal residues' in a positive light, as a badge of Japan's distinctive difference from the West (Ōtsuka, Kawashima, Doi 1976 passim). Nihonjinron books written during the period of high economic growth up to the bubble burst in the early 1990s, in contrast, argued various unique features of the Japanese as more positive features.

Specific theses[edit]

  1. The Japanese race is a unique isolate, having no known affinities with any other race. In some extreme versions, the race is claimed to be directly descended from a distinct branch of primates.[11]
  2. This isolation is due to the peculiar circumstances of living in an island country (島国, shimaguni) cut off from the promiscuous cross-currents of continental history, with its endless miscegenation of tribes and cultures. The island country in turn enjoys a unique climate (風土, fūdo) whose peculiar rhythms, the supposed fact for example that Japan alone has four distinct seasons (四季, shiki), color Japanese thinking and behaviour. Thus, human nature in Japan is, peculiarly, an extension of nature itself.[12]
  3. The Japanese language has a unique grammatical structure and native lexical corpus whose idiosyncratic syntax and connotations condition the Japanese to think in peculiar patterns unparalleled in other human languages. The Japanese language is also uniquely vague.[13] Foreigners who speak it fluently therefore, may be correct in their usage, but the thinking behind it remains inalienably soaked in the alien framework of their original language's thought patterns. This is the Japanese version of the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, according to which grammar determines world-view.[14]
  4. Japanese psychology, influenced by the language, is defined by a particular cast of dependency wishes or desires (甘え, amae) that conduce to a unique form of 'human relationship' (人間関係, ningen kankei), in which clearly defined boundaries between self and other are ambiguous or fluid, leading to a psychomental and social ideal of the fusion of ego and alter (自他合一, jita gōitsu).[15]
  5. Japanese social structures consistently remould human associations in terms of an archaic family or household model (, ie) characterized by vertical relations (縦社会, tate-shakai), clan (, uji), and (foster-)parent-child patterns (親分・子分, oyabun, kobun). As a result, the individual (個人, kojin) cannot properly exist, since groupism (集団主義, shūdan-shugi) will always prevail.[16]

As cultural nationalism[edit]

Scholars such as Peter N. Dale (1986), Harumi Befu (1987), and Kosaku Yoshino (1992) view nihonjinron more critically, identifying it as a tool for enforcing social and political conformity. Dale, for example, characterizes nihonjinron as follows:

First, they implicitly assume that the Japanese constitute a culturally and socially homogeneous racial entity, whose essence is virtually unchanged from prehistoric times down to the present day. Secondly, they presuppose that the Japanese differ radically from all other known peoples. Thirdly, they are conspicuously nationalistic, displaying a conceptual and procedural hostility to any mode of analysis which might be seen to derive from external, non-Japanese sources. In a general sense then, nihonjinron may be defined as works of cultural nationalism concerned with ostensible 'uniqueness' of Japan in any aspect, and which are hostile to both individual experience and the notion of internal socio-historical diversity.[17]

The emphasis on ingroup unity in nihonjinron writings, and its popularization during Japan's period of military expansion at the turn of the 20th century, has led many Western critics to brand it a form of ethnocentric nationalism. Karel van Wolferen echoes this assessment, noting that:

In the nihonjinron perspective, Japanese limit their actions, do not claim 'rights' and always obey those placed above them, not because they have no other choice, but because it comes naturally to them. Japanese are portrayed as if born with a special quality of brain that makes them want to suppress their individual selves.[18]

Overview of Arguments[edit]

Mainly from a research historical perspective[edit]

Western society first learned about Japanese culture during the first encounter between the West and Japan, in 1543 during the Sengoku era, when Portuguese drifted to Tanegashima and introduced guns to the island. Eventually, Francis Xavier arrived in Japan, and his fellow Missionarys of the Jesuits wrote Treatise of Luís Fróis, S.J. (1585) on the contrast of the morals between Europe and Japan, History of Japan, and Alessandro Valignano's [[Tour of Japan Valignano. However, the reports were long buried due to the interruption of the Tokugawa shogunate's shukoku policy, and it was only during the long Edo period that the Modernization of Western society took a renewed interest in Japan's civilized society. Edo period]] and the opening of Japan to the outside world at the end of the 19th century. The rapid modernization of Japanese society after the Meiji Restoration led to increased attention for Japan as the first Asian and Colored country to achieve modernization.

Early Western studies of Japan were tinged with the same kind of exoticism and Orientalism as interest in other Oriental societies. However, the many accounts written by Western travellers and observers after the opening of Japan to the outside world reported similarities between the social structure of Japan and that of the West, and as Japan emerged as a military power, there was an increasing tendency to see Japan as similar to the West.

This Western interest in Japan is supported in part by the fact that, despite its highly modern success, it is considered to maintain a uniquely Japanese traditional society. However, there are different views on which characteristics belong to the uniquely Japanese tradition, the extent of their influence in Japanese society, and whether they have anything in common with other societies. Methodologically, there are two main perspectives: the structural perspective, based on an analysis of Japanese organisations and institutions, and the cultural anthropological perspective, based on Japanese behavioural and cultural tendencies.

The former, which drew on Max Weber's theory of bureaucracy, initially tended to look at the characteristics of Japanese society on a relatively small scale, but gradually adopted the latter approach, and today the prevailing perspective is that of Japan's unique institutional structure. In terms of research trends, the prevailing view is that Japan's institutional realities are to some extent related to its cultural patterns. Therefore, recent studies have more or less taken into account both of these two different perspectives.

Two aspects of successful modernization and cultural structure[edit]

  1. For more information on the modernization of Japan, see Meiji'
  2. For more on the restorationist aspects of the political structure, see Emperor System, Kokutai'

It is almost a well-established view that the modernisation of Japan has been achieved at a phenomenal rate. With its victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, it became one of the first great powers in Asia. Japanese society by this time had a systematic modern code, complete with a centralisation of bureaucratic control of the land and a hierarchy order. At the centre of this modern state, however, was the traditional Authority of the Emperor, who also played a role in national unity.

The Ideology of the Japanese Modern state had two aspects: modern and restoration. The modern emperor system, which was established by transforming traditional society, was advocated as the Restoration of the Monarchy (disambiguation) of Ancient. The ideology had two sides: utilitarianism and idealism. On the practical side, it encouraged a positive embrace of modern Western civilisation, while on the ideal side it promoted a view of morality that departed from Western economic materialism (wakon yosai). The latter idealism gradually gave way to a more restorationist tendency and a collective consciousness of Japan's unique national character, which became the concept of the "Kokutai". After World War II, this basic structure of collective consciousness has been maintained, although it has lost its myth appearance. However, despite the fact that it is said not to be actively supported by all Japanese citizens, Hatsumodes such as Shinto shrines are still active and have a very peaceful existence despite their ideological and Religion-like duality. It has a dual ideological and Religions, but a very calm existence.

Understanding the different Japanese civilisations[edit]

Apart from the grasp of comparative civilisation theory, which mainly focuses on the modern and contemporary period, there are also various other perspectives on civilised society in Japan.

Japanese Civilization in the History of Civilizations[edit]

The main disciplines concerned with civilization are comparative civilization theory (comparative culture theory) and the history of civilization (cultural history). Among those who have discussed Japanese civilization in the field of civilization history are Karl Jaspers and Arnold J. Toynbee.

Jaspers defined Japan as a non-axial civilization on the periphery of an axial civilization, but focused on the success of such a peripheral society in modernizing itself. Toynbee attempted to view regional cultural spheres in terms of a centre-periphery relationship consisting of independent and satellite civilisations, and positioned Japan as a satellite civilisation of Chinese civilisation.

Philip Bagby judged that there were nine major civilizations, and that if China and Japan, and the Eastern Orthodox Church and Western Europe were to be classified as eleven.[19]

Matthew Melko, after reviewing the material, unreasonably classifies Japan, China, India, Islam, and Western Europe where there is agreement.[20]

Huntington's theory of the clash of civilizations[edit]

Samuel Huntington's distribution of civilisations (the green area is the Japanese civilisation area)

Samuel P. Huntington wrote Clash of Civilizations in 1998, in which he examined the clash of civilizations, dividing the world into eight civilizations and considering Japan as a single civilization.[21] Huntington states that the Japanese civilization is a unique civilization that was established independently of the Chinese civilization between 100 and 400.

Todd's classification of family structure[edit]

In an analysis based on demographics and family structure, Emmanuel Todd points out that Japan's family structure (the direct line of descent with the eldest son taking over the parental family) and its effects are very European (especially in Germany and Sweden) and rejects Japan-specificity.

Todd also points out that Huntington's classification is too influenced by the concepts of religion and race.

Trends in conservative discourse[edit]

In relation to the Japanese history textbook controversies and the issue of historical awareness, a number of conservative discourses, such as the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, which advocates a liberal view of history, and Conservatism, which advocates a somewhat nationalist view of Japanese civilization. It describes Japanese civilization and society as older, more traditional and unique than is commonly believed (for example, placing its origins in the Jomon period), emphasizing its beauty and uniqueness to other cultures.[22]

Terumasa Nakanishi[edit]

Nakanishi Terumasa's History of the Civilization of the Nation is a representative work in this regard. Relying on the sociology of culture approach of Alfred Weber, Nakanishi argues that Japan's unique civilizational process.[23] In Japanese society, there are two kinds of civilization processes: a non-variable and stable civilization process and an abrupt and instantaneous civilization process, which are alternately repeated in History to build a unique society. This civilization process, which Nakanishi describes as existing since the Jomon period, emphasizes that the structure of traditional Japanese culture is very old and traditional. He also emphasises the role of the emperor in "Japanese civilisation" and states that he was an integral part of Japan's civilised society.

Tsuneyasu Takeda[edit]

  1. For more information on polished stone tools, see Polished stone tools/Local polished stone axes'.

In his book "The Emperor's National History", he claims that the world's oldest ground stone (local polished stone axe) has been excavated from Japan, and that the appearance of this ground stone is a condition for culture and civilization, and that "Japanese civilization" appeared before the four major civilizations of the world. However, such a conditionalization does not mean that the Japanese civilization appeared before the four world civilizations. However, there are some criticisms of such a conditioning.

Jomon Civilisation[edit]

In the light of recent research at the Sannai-Maruyama Site, it has been suggested that the Jōmon civilization should be referred to as Ancient Civilization, and that it is comparable to the World's Four Great Civilizations.[24]

While there has been a great deal of Mass media coverage of this theory of Jomon civilization, and a series of articles presenting similar points of view,[25] There has been a multifaceted debate over the significance of the Sannai-Maruyama site.


  1. For an overview, see History of East Asia, Kanji cultural sphere, and Zuanfu.
  2. For its influence on traditional Japanese symbolism, see Imperial rituals, Japanese Buddhism, and Confucianism'

There is a view that the Japanese archipelago and the regions up to Mainland China, Korean Peninsula and Vietnam are part of the same Kulturkreis,.[26] The prevailing view in Oriental and Japanese studies of ancient history is to emphasize the influence of the ancient Chinese dynasties on Japan's State formation and cultural structure. From this point of view, Japanese civilized society has been formed and developed through interaction with neighboring states.[27] For example, the Tenmu dynasty and afterwards, and the important place it has occupied in the symbolic system of the emperor system since the Meiji era, has been influenced by the ritual system of the ancient Chinese dynasties,[28] and the political philosophy of Japanese politicians often incorporates foreign Confucian ethics and Buddhist ideas.[29] On the other hand, the uniqueness of civilized society in modern Japan has been pointed out.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hiroshi Minami, Nihonjinron no keifu, 1980 p.3
  2. ^ Dale, Peter N. 'Nipponologies (Nihon-ron. Nihon-shugi)', 1994 p. 355
  3. ^ Minamoto Ryōen, Tokugawa Shisō Shōshi, Chūkō Shinsho, Tokyo 1973 p. 178, corrects the traditional figure of four great founders, which excluded Keichū
  4. ^ Susan L. Burns. Before the Nation. Duke University Press, 2003. p. 199.
  5. ^ Leslie Pincus, Authenticating Culture in Imperial Japan University of California Press, 1996 p. 92
  6. ^ Cf. Hirakawa Sukehiro (平川祐弘), Wakon Yōsai no keifu, Kawade Bungei Shinsho,1976 passim
  7. ^ Curtis A Gayle, Marxist History and Postwar Japanese Nationalism 2003
  8. ^ Dale, The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness, 1986 p. 213
  9. ^ Aoki 1990 p. 29
  10. ^ Sugimoto & Mouer, Images of Japanese Society 1986 pp. 70-71
  11. ^ (1)Watanabe Shōichi, Nihongo no kokoro, Kōsansha Gendai Shinsho, Tokyo 1954.pp.11f (2) Oguma Eiji, Tan'itsu minzoku shinwa no kigen, Shin'yōsha, Tokyo 1995
  12. ^ (1) Watsuji Tetsurō, Fūdo, Iwanami Shoten 1935 passim; (2)Dale, Myth of Japanese Uniqueness, ibid. pp.43f.
  13. ^ Morimoto, Tetsurō (森本哲朗) Nihongo Omote to Ura (日本語表と裏) ("Japanese inside and outside") Shinchōsha Tokyo 1985
  14. ^ (1)Suzuki Takao, Kotoba no ningengaku, Shinchō Bunko, Tokyo 1981.pp.109ff;(2) Itasaka Gen, Nihongo yokochō, Kōdansha Gakujutsu Bunko, Tokyo 1978 pp.69ff; (3)Kawashima Takeyoshi in Ōtsuka Hisao, Kawashima Takeyoshi, Doi Takeo, 'Amae' to shakai kagaku, Kōbundō, Tokyo 1978 p.29
  15. ^ Dale, Myth of Japanese Uniqueness, ibid. ch.7,8 pp.116-175, ch.12 pp.201ff.
  16. ^ Dale, Myth of Japanese Uniqueness, ibid. ch.7 pp.100ff
  17. ^ Shepherd, Gregory. "Music of Japan Today: Tradition and Innovation". Archived from the original on March 24, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2006.
  18. ^ Caron, Bruce. "17 Nihonjinron". Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved March 25, 2006.
  19. ^ Bagby, Philip (1963) Culture and History: Prolegomena to The Comparative Study of Civilizations Civilizations
  20. ^ Melko, Matthew (1969) The Nature of Civilizations
  21. ^ Japanese civilization is an independent civilization Kyoto Shimbun, September 9, 1999
  22. ^ _report.html Tsukuru-kai Symposium No. 25 "Symposium to Commemorate the Publication of 'The History of National Civilizations'" and National Series "The History of National Civilizations A History of Civilization"
  23. ^ civilizational process is a process that mediates between culture in a narrow sense, such as thought and art, and political and social institutions. The reason why the social forms of individual ethnic groups differ, even if they have the same culture and the same political system, is because these civilization processes differ from each other.
  24. ^ Yoshinori Yasuda, The Environment of Jomon Civilization, Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1997; Takeshi Umehara and Yoshinori Yasuda, Discovering Jomon Civilization, PHP Institute, 1995.
  25. ^ Shinichiro Fujio, Jomon Controversy, Kodansha, 2002 The Jomon Controversy, Kodansha, 2002; Kikuchi Tetsuo, Archaeology in the Classroom, Heibonsha, 2007; "Civilization of the North, Civilization of the South: Jomon Era Settlement Theory in Fiction"; Sasaki Introduction (Maegaki ni kaete)" in Fujio Sasaki's "I dug the Archaeological Sites of Tokyo".
  26. ^ For example, Sadao Nishijima's "Ancient East Asian World and Japan" for ancient times and Takeshi Hamashita's "The Tribute System and Modern Asia" for early modern times.
  27. ^ The various cultural styles that characterize Japanese civilized society seem to follow the traditional political and social framework of East Asia in their reception process (Sadao Nishijima Ancient East Asian World and Japan", pp.3-10). However, this does not contradict the fact that Japanese civilization has its own dynamics. The uniqueness of Japanese civilization lies in the fact that it has been heavily influenced by foreign cultures and has ingested them very effectively, while still maintaining a clear separation from other civilized societies in terms of identity (see S. N. Eisenstaedt, Japan: A Comparative Civilizational Study, pp. 21-23).
  28. ^ See Yoshino Yuko, "The Dai-namesai".
  29. ^ This was also noticeable at a time when there was little political connection with the dynasties of mainland China. At the same time, they successfully combined Japanese original ideas such as Shinto thought to form Japan's own historical and political views (see Hiroyuki Tamagake, Studies in the History of Japanese Medieval Thought, and Reiko Shimokawa, The Confucianism of Kitabatake Chikabo)
  30. ^ Mond Japan and China Korea in different civilization phases

Major Nihonjinron literature[edit]

  • Hearn, Lafcadio.1904.Japan:An Attempt at Interpretation.Dodo Press
  • Kuki, Shūzō (九鬼周造). 1930. 「いき」の構造 English tr. An Essay on Japanese Taste: The Structure of 'Iki'. John Clark; Sydney, Power Publications, 1996.
  • Watsuji, Tetsurō (和辻哲郞). 1935. Fûdo (風土). Tokyo, Iwanami Shoten. trans. Geoffrey Bownas, as Climate. Unesco 1962.
  • Japanese Ministry of Education (文部省). 1937. 國體の本義 (Kokutai no hongi). tr. as Kokutai no hongi. Cardinal principles of the national entity of Japan, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1949.
  • Nishida, Kitarō (西田幾多郞). 1940. 日本文化の問題 (Nihon Bunka no mondai). Tokyo.
  • Benedict, Ruth. 1946. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture. Houghton Mifflin, Boston
  • Herrigel, Eugen. 1948. Zen in der Kunst des Bogenschiessens, = 1953 Zen in the Art of Archery. New York, NY. Pantheon Books.
  • Nakane, Chie (中根千枝). 1967. タテ社会の人間関係 (Human relations in a vertical society) English tr Japanese Society, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, UK, 1970.
  • Mishima, Yukio (三島由紀夫). 1969. Bunka Bôeiron (文化防衛論, A Defense of Culture). Tokyo, Japan: Shinchôsha.
  • Doi, Takeo (土居健郎). 1971. 「甘え」の構造 (The Structure of 'Amae'). Tokyo, Japan: Kôbundô. trans.The Anatomy of Dependence Kodansha, Tokyo 1974
  • Singer, Kurt. 1973 Mirror, Sword and Jewel. Croom Helm, London
  • Izaya Ben-Dasan, ('translated' by Yamamoto Shichihei:山本七平) 1972 Nihonkyō ni tsuite (日本教について), Tokyo, Bungei Shunjû
  • Hisao, Ōtsuka, Takeyoshi, Kawashima, Takeo, Doi. 「Amae」to shakai kagaku.Tokyo, Kōbundō 1976
  • Vogel, Ezra F. 1978. Japan As Number One: Lessons for America.. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.
  • Reischauer, Edwin O. 1978. The Japanese. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.
  • Tsunoda, Tadanobu (角田忠信). 1978. Nihonjin no Nō (日本人の脳―脳の働きと東西の文化, The Japanese brain). Tokyo, Japan: Taishūkan Shoten (大修館書店) ISBN 4-469-21068-4.
  • Murakami, Yasusuke (村上泰亮), Kumon Shunpei (公文俊平), Satō Seizaburō (佐藤誠三郎). 1979. The 'Ie' Society as a Civilization (文明としてのイエ社会) Tokyo, Japan: Chūō Kōronsha.
  • Dower, John W.War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War.1986.
  • Berque, Augustin 1986. Le sauvage et l'artifice: Les Japonais devant la nature. Gallimard, Paris.
  • Tamura Keiji (田村圭司) 2001. Futatabi 「Nihonjin」tare!, (『再び「日本人」たれ!』) Takarajimasha Shinsho、Tokyo
  • Takie Sugiyama Lebra 2004 The Japanese Self in Cultural Logic, University of Hawai'I Press, Honolulu
  • Macfarlane, Alan.Japan Through the Looking Glass. 2007.

Critical bibliography[edit]

  • Amino, Yoshihiko (網野善彦) 1993 Nihonron no shiza: Rettō no shakai to kokka (日本論の視座) Tokyo, Shôgakkan
  • Amino, Yoshihiko (網野善彦). 1978 Muen, kugai, raku: Nihon chūsei no jiyū to heiwa (無縁・公界・楽. 日本中世の自由と平和:Muen, kugai, raku: Peace and freedom in medieval Japan), Tokyo, Heibonsha
  • Aoki Tamotsu (青木保) Bunka no hiteisei 1988 (文化の否定性) Tokyo, Chūō Kōronsha
  • Aoki, Tamotsu (青木保) 1990. 'Nihonbunkaron' no Hen'yō (「日本文化論」の変容, Phases of Theories of Japanese Culture in transition). Tokyo, Japan: Chūō Kōron Shinsha.
  • Befu, Harumi (別府春海) 1987 Ideorogī toshite no nihonbunkaron (イデオロギーとしての日本人論, Nihonjinron as an ideology). Tokyo, Japan: Shisō no Kagakusha.
  • Benedict, Ruth. 1946. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword : Patterns of Japanese Culture. Boston, Houghton Mifflin.
  • Benesch, Oleg. Inventing the Way of the Samurai: Nationalism, Internationalism, and Bushido in Modern Japan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  • Berque, Augustin. 1986 Le sauvage et l'artifice: Les Japonais devant la nature. Paris, Gallimard.
  • Burns, Susan L., 2003 Before the Nation - Kokugaku and the Imagining of Community in Early Modern Japan, Duke University Press, Durham, London.
  • Dale, Peter N. 1986. The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness Oxford, London. Nissan Institute, Croom Helm.
  • Dale, Peter N. 1994 'Nipponologies (Nihon-ron. Nihon-shugi' in Augustin Berque (ed.) Dictionnaire de la civilisation japonaise. Hazan, Paris pp. 355–6.
  • Gayle, Curtis Anderson, 2003 Marxist History and Postwar Japanese Nationalism, RoutledgeCurzon, London, New York
  • Gill, Robin D 1985 Nihonjinron Tanken (日本人論探険) Tokyo, TBS Britannica.
  • Gill, Robin D. 1984Omoshiro Hikaku-bunka-kō, (おもしろ比較文化考) Tokyo, Kirihara Shoten.
  • Gill, Robin D. 1985 Han-nihonjinron ((反日本人論)) Tokyo, Kōsakusha.
  • Hijiya-Kirschnereit, Irmela 1988 Das Ende der Exotik Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp
  • Kawamura, Nozomu (河村望) 1982 Nihonbunkaron no Shûhen (日本文化論の周辺, The Ambiance of Japanese Culture Theory), Tokyo: Ningen no Kagakusha
  • Mazzei, Franco, 1997. Japanese Particularism and the Crisis of Western Modernity, Ca' Foscari University of Venice.
  • Miller, Roy Andrew 1982 Japan's Modern Myth: The Language and Beyond, New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill.
  • Minami Hiroshi (南博) 1980 Nihonjinron no keifu (日本人論の系譜) Tokyo, Kōdansha.
  • Mouer, Ross & Sugimoto, Yoshio, Images of Japanese Society, London: Routledge, 1986
  • Nomura Research Institute. 1979. Sengo Nihonjinron Nenpyō (戦後日本人論年表, Chronology of post-war Nihonjinron). Tokyo, Japan: Nomura Research Institute.
  • Sugimoto Yoshio (杉本良夫) 1993 Nihonjin o yameru hōhō, Tokyo, Chikuma Bunko.
  • Sugimoto, Yoshio & Ross Mouer (eds.) 1989 Constructs for Understanding Japan, Kegan Paul International, London and New York.
  • Sugimoto, Yoshio (杉本良夫) and Mouer, Ross.(eds.) 1982 Nihonjinron ni kansuru 12 shô (日本人論に関する12章) Tokyo, Gakuyō Shobō
  • Sugimoto, Yoshio (杉本良夫)1983 Chō-kanri rettô Nippon (超管理ニッボン, Nippon. The Hyper-Control Archipelago) Tokyo, Kōbunsha.
  • Sugimoto, Yoshio and Mouer, Ross. 1982 Nihonjin wa 「Nihonteki」ka (日本人は「日本的」か) Tokyo, Tōyō Keizai Shinpōsha
  • Sugimoto, Yoshio and Mouer, Ross. 1995. Nihonjinron no Hōteishiki (日本人論の方程式, the Equation of Nihonjinron). Tokyo, Japan: Chikuma Shobō
  • Van Wolferen, Karel. 1989. The Enigma of Japanese power. Westminster, MD: Knopf.
  • Yoshino, Kosaku. 1992. Cultural Nationalism in Contemporary Japan: A Sociological Enquiry. London, UK: Routledge.



  • S. N. Eisenstadt, translated by Junichi Umetsu et al. in Japan: Comparative Civilization Studies, 1,2, Iwanami Shoten, 2004.
  • Yoko Kudo, Introduction to the Critique of European Civilization: Colonies, Republics and Orientalism, University of Tokyo Press, 2003.
  • Reiko Shimokawa, The Confucianism of Kitabatake Chikabo, Perikansha, 2001.
  • Hiroyuki Tamakake, Studies in the History of Japanese Medieval Thought, Perikansha, 1998.
  • Terumasa Nakanishi, A History of National Civilization, Fusosha, 2003.
  • Sadao Nishijima, The Ancient East Asian World and Japan, Iwanami Modern Library, 2000.
  • Takeshi Hamashita, The Tribute System and Modern Asia, Iwanami Shoten, 1997.
  • Yuko Yoshino, The Structure of the Emperor's Accession Ceremony, Kobundo, 1987.
  • Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and Japan in the 21st Century, translated by Suzuki Shuzei, Shueisha Shinsho, 2000.
  • Diversification of the World: Family Structure and Modernity, translated by Emmanuel Todd and Fumitaka Ogino.

Related Documents[edit]

  • Tadao Umesao, What is Japan: The Formation and Development of Modern Japanese Civilization, Japan Broadcasting Corporation Press, 1986.
  • Umesao Tadao, 77 Keys to Japanese Civilization, Bungeishunju, 2005.
  • Shinichiro Fujio, The Jomon Controversy, Kodansha, 2002.
  • Heita Kawakatsu, Japanese Civilization and the Modern West: Rethinking the "Closed Country", Japan Broadcasting Corporation Press, 1991.
  • Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, Shueisha, 1998.
  • Ryōtarō Shiba, The Shape of Japanese Civilization: Selected Dialogues of Ryōtarō Shiba (5), Bungeishunju, 2006.
  • Ryōtarō Shiba, The Shape of Japanese Civilization: Selected Dialogues of Ryōtarō Shiba, Bungeishunju, 2006.
  • Kotaro Takemura, Solving the Mystery of Japanese Civilization: Hints for Thinking about the 21st Century, Seiryu Shuppan, 2003.
  • Terumasa Nakanishi, The Rise and Fall of Japanese Civilization: This Country at the Crossroads, PHP Institute, 2006.
  • Tetsuo Yamaori, "What is Japanese Civilization?", Kadokawa Shoten, 2004.
  • Philip Bagby, Culture and History, translated by Arata Yamamoto and Biao Tsutsumi, Sobunsha, 1976.
  • Shuji Yagi, The Individuality of Japan: An Introduction to the Theory of Japanese Civilization, Ikuhosha, 2008.
  • The Association for the Creation of New History Textbooks, New History Textbooks, Fusosha, 2001.
  • Nishio Mikiji, New History Textbook Wo Tsukuru Kai, Kokumin no Rekishi (History of the People), Sankei Shimbun News Service, 1999.