Review Pedang Samurai dan Bunga Seruni: Pola-Pola Kebudayaan Jepang

Rabu, 11 April 2012

Pedang Samurai dan Bunga Seruni: Pola-Pola Kebudayaan Jepang

by Ruth Benedict

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.

Das erste wirklich bedeutsame Werk über die Wesensart und das Weltbild der Japaner avancierte es auf Anhieb zu einem der maßgeblichen Standardwerke der Sozialwissenschaften, dessen grundlegende Aussagen bis heute nichts von ihrer Gültigkeit eingebüßt haben.

Sinar Harapan 1982

Farah: Oke, jujur saja, antropologi bukan bidang ilmu yang aku suka. Alasan aku membaca buku ini adalah karena aku tertarik dengan budaya Jepang. Untuk seorang yang tidak mendalami antropologi, buku ini cukup mudah dimengerti. Hampir tidak ada istilah yang menyulitkan walaupun ada beberapa kata yang tidak dapat aku temukan terjemahannya meski sudah bolak-balik membuka beberapa kamus. Namun, secara keseluruhan, buku ini enak dibaca termasuk oleh mereka yang baru mulai tertarik pada budaya Jepang atau antropologi itu sendiri. Mmm, mungkin buku ini juga cocok disebut sebagai salah satu 'Holy Book' bagi orang yang mendalami budaya Jepang.

David: 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 to the yard. I love Japan because… "one principal of [a school for girls], advocating for his upper middle class students some instructions in European languages, based his recommendations on the desirability of their being able to put their husband's books back in the bookcase right side up after they had dusted them."

"It is told of Count Katsu who died in 1899 that when he was a boy his testicles were torn by a dog. He was of samurai family but his family had been reduced to beggary. While the doctor operated upon him, his father held a sword to his nose. 'If you utter one cry,' he told him, 'you will die in a way that at least will not be shameful.'"
Yeah, but I'm suspicious of what Count Katsu was doing with a dog at his testicles.

"Within the reign of the present Emperor, a man who had inadvertently named his son Hirohito – the given name of the Emperor was never spoken in Japan – killed himself and his child."

I love it, but I struggle to believe it. Didn't this father know what the Crown Prince's son / Crown Prince was called? Hirohito was the eldest son of the Meiji Emperor's eldest son; there weren't any surprises in the succession. Did the father kill the boy when Hirohito became the Taisho Emperor’s Regent? Or wait until he inherited the throne "for real"?

"In the rural areas, too, boys may visit girls after the household is asleep and the girl is in bed. Girls can either accept or reject their advances, but the boy wears a towel bound about his face so that if he is rejected he need feel no shame next day. The disguise is not to prevent the girl from recognizing him; it is purely an ostrich technique so that he will not have to admit that he was shamed in his proper person."

"The favorite form [of industrial action] is for the workers 'to occupy the plant, continue work and make management lose face by increasing production. Strikers at a Mitsui-owned coal mine barred all management personnel from the pits and stepped daily output up from 250 tons to 620. Workers at Ashio copper mines operated during a 'strike,' increased production, and doubled their own wages.'"

Alex: 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, this book is certainly interesting, but by no means a conclusive, thorough, or particularly accurate depiction of Japan.

Caligula: 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.

Alberto: Even though not describing the current japanese society (it is about post-WWII japan) it is both very insteresting as a history book and an insight into values still present in japanese interpersonal relationships. Honor, family, duty (and the many words for it) are explained in detail. It lacks the in-site experience of the author in japan, but it is completely worth reading anyway.