The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese culture

by Ruth Benedict

Hardcover, 1946




Boston, Houghton Mifflin company, 1946.


Essential reading for anyone interested in Japanese culture, this unsurpassed masterwork opens an intriguing window on Japan. Benedict's World War II-era study paints an illuminating contrast between the culture of Japan and that of the United States. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword is a revealing look at how and why our cultures differ, making it the perfect introduction to Japanese history and customs.

User reviews

LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
It's supremely dodgy as anthropology--researched from across the Pacific, the main informant a disgruntled nisei, and ultimately even when it has real insights mistaking a profoundly dislocated, damaged point in Japanese social history for business as usual--but so much of this has been so influential on my life: a myth of Japan that became a myth of another way to be, a way of stepping away from the things my own culture and upbringing took as so obvious as to be invisible. Looking into a mirror to see your soul; self-respect being not holding to a set of personal morals, but behaving appropriately, cleaving to the circumstances--the ultimate in/flexibility--and never letting the strain show; "thank you" as "It cannot be borne, the burden you place on me by putting me in your debt." This all remained latent as long as life was selfish and easy, but as I've tried to be a dad in difficult circumstances and work with my son's mum so carefully and cause no harm, it's come up again and again. I mean this book may only say an indeterminate amount about Japan, but it's the closest thing I've found to a manual for being stronger than you are.… (more)


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