Japan: In the land of the brokenhearted

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9780805003956: Japan: In the land of the brokenhearted

In The Land of the Brokenhearted Falling In and Out of Love with the New Superpower Japan seduces. It seduces with the potential for profit and with the allure of an exotic world far from hope. Japan can also break your heart. Michael Sharpiro, an American journalist, move to Tokyo with his wife, who was sent there by her newspaper. The account of what he thought he'd find and what he actually encountered is a surprising and revealing exploration of a society that has always been impenetrable to the West. More and more Americans are finding themselves in some relationship with Japan-- as students, employees, business partners, and travelers. And while these realtionships can be productive and satisfying, they can often be frustrating as well. Japanese and Westerners approach the world, their lives, their friendships in profoundly different ways that they often end up confusing and hurting each other. Many Westerners have come to Japan seeking cultural perfection, only to have their innocent visions shattered. Among the most famous was Lafcadio Hearn, who arrived at the turn of the century and the beginning of Japan's westernization. His presence, through his writings, serves at the author's alter ego. Five contemporary Americans and several surprising Japanese lead Mr. Shapiro deep within the workings of a homogeneoussociety: ther is the baseball player baffled that his team doesn't protest when an umpire calls a ball a strike; the businessman who attempts to move his stubborn Japanese boss into new markets; the woman who defies the alien fingerprinting law and dares a stuned legal system to thro her into the workhouse; and the missionary couple who find that whatever religion their community professes outwardly, their only true belief lies in "Japanesism"--a club to which no foreigner can be admitted.

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From Publishers Weekly:

A foreigner's love of Japan is rarely reciprocated, asserts journalist Shapiro after five years spent there, beginning in 1984, with his wife Susan Chira, a New York Times reporter. The author offers not only his own acute observations and those of Lafcadio Hearn, extensively cited, but reports the firsthand experiences of five American residents--a Japanese baseball team member, a businessman, a missionary couple and a defiant English teacher, who faced prison rather than be fingerprinted. Shapiro recreates revealing episodes in which, with only partial success, these expatriates sought acceptance by a remote, highly conformist, unpredictable people whose xenophobia extends to other Asiatics and to Japanese who have lived abroad. The Japanese, Shapiro observes, echoing a now conventional consensus, value obligation above love, and subordinate the individual to the group (and to any superior), whether in school, athletics or business. Perhaps, he theorizes, the constant threat of natural disasters has caused the Japanese to fear change of any kind.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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