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Ever since the time of Marco Polo, the island-nation of Japan has exerted a powerful
fascination on the Western imagination. Closed off from the outside world for long periods,
it was a source of wonder and mystery. Its exquisite art forms and elegant culture, its
military prowess and technological precision, have long been the envy of friend and foe
alike.
Today Japan is at a crossroads. The postwar economic miracle is over and the balance of
power in Asia is shifting as new players enter the field. Loss of influence abroad, economic
pressure at home, and the problems posed by a declining and rapidly aging population
present a real challenge to its orderly and harmonious way of life, and to the very sense the
Japanese have of themselves as a nation uniquely “apart.”
Nevertheless, the bedrock of traditional Japanese culture – its remarkable resilience,
coherence, and consensus-based philosophy, underpinned by many protocols – until recently
regarded by some as a hindrance, is starting to look like a virtue in a world of accelerating
change. Japan remains the world’s third-largest economy and one of the most attractive and
secure destinations for investment. The younger generation is outward-looking, Japanese
women have a new confidence, and the country’s technical and scientific research capability
is as good as it gets. Japan continues to excel at innovation in technology and the “new”
sciences, and is among the world’s largest funders in research as a percentage of GDP.
Cynics may say otherwise, but there is increasing evidence that its economy is back on the
road to recovery.
Culture Smart! Japan will guide you through modern Japan’s shifting social and cultural
maze. It provides invaluable insights into people’s attitudes and behavior, and practical tips
to help make your visit to this complex, rich, and dynamic society a mutually rewarding
experience.

Ever since the time of Marco Polo, the island-nation of Japan has exerted a powerful fascination on the Western imagination. Closed off from the outside world for long periods, it was a source of wonder and mystery. Its exquisite art forms and elegant culture, its military prowess and technological precision, have long been the envy of friend and foe alike.

Today Japan is at a crossroads. The postwar economic miracle is over and the balance of power in Asia is shifting as new players enter the field. Loss of influence abroad, economic pressure at home, and the problems posed by a declining and rapidly aging population present a real challenge to its orderly and harmonious way of life, and to the very sense the Japanese have of themselves as a nation uniquely “apart.”

Nevertheless, the bedrock of traditional Japanese culture – its remarkable resilience, coherence, and consensus-based philosophy, underpinned by many protocols – until recently regarded by some as a hindrance, is starting to look like a virtue in a world of accelerating change. Japan remains the world’s third-largest economy and one of the most attractive and secure destinations for investment. The younger generation is outward-looking, Japanese women have a new confidence, and the country’s technical and scientific research capability is as good as it gets. Japan continues to excel at innovation in technology and the “new” sciences, and is among the world’s largest funders in research as a percentage of GDP. Cynics may say otherwise, but there is increasing evidence that its economy is back on the road to recovery.

Culture Smart! Japan will guide you through modern Japan’s shifting social and cultural maze. It provides invaluable insights into people’s attitudes and behavior, and practical tips to help make your visit to this complex, rich, and dynamic society a mutually rewarding experience.

PAUL NORBURY has been closely associated with Japan and Asian Studies as publisher, editor, and author since the early 1970s, principally through his various imprints: Paul Norbury Publications, Japan Library, Global Oriental, and most recently Renaissance Books. In 2003 he received the Japan Society Award, in 2011 the Order of the Rising Sun (Japanese government), and in 2013 the Order of Civic Virtue (government of the Republic of Sakha/Yakutia). He is also the author of Culture Smart! Britain.