By Alan Macfarlane
This pleasing and forever spectacular publication takes us on an exploration into each point of eastern society from the main public to the main intimate.
A sequence of meticulous investigations steadily uncovers the multi-faceted nature of a rustic and those who are much more striking than they seem.
Our trip encompasses faith, ritual, martial arts, manners, consuming, ingesting, sizzling baths, geishas, family members, domestic, making a song, wrestling, dancing, acting, clans, schooling, aspiration, sexes, generations, race, crime, gangs, terror, warfare, kindness, cruelty, funds, artwork, imperialism, emperor, nation-state, urban, politics, govt, legislation and a language that varies in keeping with whom you're talking.
Clear-sighted, continual, affectionate, unsentimental and sincere - Alan Macfarlane exhibits us Japan because it hasn't ever been obvious ahead of.
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This wonderful and without end amazing publication takes us on an exploration into each element of jap society from the main public to the main intimate.
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Additional resources for Japan Through the Looking Glass
Or, as the editor of the Japan Mail in the early part of the twentieth century put it, ‘The nude is seen in Japan, but is not looked at’. indb 39 13/5/08 16:34:38 40 japan through the looking glass human body and the extremes of sexuality in the pornographic industry. Historically there has always been a very tolerant attitude to prostitution and the use of geishas to provide entertainment is widespread. Early visitors were amazed at the open prostitution of boys. In the eighteenth century, Engelbert Kaempfer described streets where there were: nine or ten neat houses, or booths, before each of which sat one, two, or three young boys, of ten to twelve years of age, well dress’d, with their faces painted, and feminine gestures, kept by their lew’d and cruel masters for the secret pleasure and entertainment of rich travellers, the Japanese being very much addicted to this vice.
Within what we roughly lump together as ‘Japanese art’, there are in fact a number of striking and contradictory traditions and aesthetics. indb 23 13/5/08 16:34:36 24 japan through the looking glass One opposition is between the Chinese and the native ways of representing and establishing beauty. From the seventh century, China and Korea were the predominant influences. Their golds and reds, their classical forms and symbols, their Buddhist-inspired conceptions of beauty, all shaped Japanese sensibility over a thousand years.
For the Japanese, in Keats’s words, truth is beauty, beauty truth. From the exquisite netsuke wood and bone carvings for ornamental clasps, through the ikebana art of flower-arranging, to the delicate origami paper cutting, the bonsai shaping of miniature trees, the delicate art of calligraphy, the wonderful traditional temple architecture, the superb gardens, the amazing lacquer and bamboo work, the ravishing pots and paintings, Japan is arguably the most artistic civilisation on earth. The Japanese play with form and function in a delicate and entrancing way.
Japan Through the Looking Glass by Alan Macfarlane