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Culture In the Realm of a Dying Emperor: Japan at Century's End

In the Realm of a Dying Emperor: Japan at Century's End

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When Emperor Hirohito died in 1989, Japanese newspapers had to use a special, exalted word to refer to his death and had to depict his life uncritically, as one beginning in turbulence but ending in magnificent accomplishment. To do otherwise would have exposed them to terrorism from the vigilant right wing. Yet this insightful book by a Japanese-American scholar who grew up in both cultures reveals the hidden fault lines in the realm of the dying emperor by telling the stories of three unlikely dissenters: a supermarket owner who burned the national flag; an ageing widow who challenged the state's "deification" of fallen soldiers; and the mayor of Nagasaki, who risked his career and his life by suggesting that Hirohito bore some responsibility for World War II.


"Through the voices of 'ordinary' Japanese, Norma Field has given us something rare and valuable--an incisive critique of conservative Japanese ideologies and practices, a critique which still finds hope for genuine democracy and anti-militarism in the values and actions of individual Japanese men and women. No other Western book on Japan today is simultaneously so intimate at the personal level and far-reaching in its social and political implications." --John Dower

"Well-researched, well-observed and completely absorbing...an important and necessary book." -- The New York Times Book Review

"Remarkable...a vivid, taut, graceful piece of writing...with enormous power."-- James Fallows, The Atlantic

"Marvelous...Field uncovers a Japan rarely seen or acknowledged by Westerners, a Japan of individual expression, active dissent -- even open rebellion."-- Village Voice Literary Supplement

"Superb...one of the most important books...on Japanese who refuse to conform." -- Ian Buruma, The New York Review of Books

About the author:

Norma Field was born to a Japanese mother and an American father during the occupation of Japan after WWII. She is the Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor in Japanese studies in the East Asian languages and civilizations department at the University of Chicago. She is the author of The Splendor of Longing in the Tale of Genji and the translator of And Then by Natsume Sōseki.

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Norma Field
Vintage; Reprint edition
Year of publication
9 March 1993
Number of pages
USD 16.95

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