BEHIND THE MASK. On Sexual Demons, Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, Gangsters, Drifters And Other Japanese Cultural Heroes. by Ian. Ian Buruma, Behind the Mask: On Sexual Demons, Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, Gangsters, Drifters, and Other Japanese Cultural Heroes. Behind the mask: on sexual demons, sacred mothers, transvestites, gangsters, and other Japanese cultural heroes. Front Cover. Ian Buruma. New American.

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I felt really offended through most of it, because it focused on such grotesque aspects of Japanese culture and ,ask they were the socially acceptable norm.


So now I have two copies. No trivia or quizzes yet. In one sense, this is an attempt to do something fairly standard: Film, theatre, comics, poetry and literary works are the media through which the examines these themes. He excels at tying these works together by explaining core concepts which aid in elucidating the emotional reactions of both the characters and the audience. Down to earth analysis of some of Japanese ‘types’ of people as they appear in the arts or pop culture.

There are no discussion topics on this book yet. He observes that imbedded and omnipresent social obligations inevitably lead to suppressed emotion. Jul 30, Channing rated it really liked it. If you have the slightest interest in Japanese film, this book’s more or less a must.

BEHIND THE MASK by Ian Buruma | Kirkus Reviews

To top it all of, Buruma’s erudition and sense of humor makes the book a pleasure to read. The books is a little dated as it was written in the 80s, nonetheless many of the basic principles still hold true. Oct 23, Tosh rated it really liked it Shelves: The wandering loner is a lifestyle which is simultaneously romanticised and pitied. It is bold without being overbearing, and broad without succumbing to generalisation.


It has left me determined to read more Buruma and more about contemporary Japan with its passions for both continuity and innovation.

I don’t know how beneficial it was for me to read this. Buruma’s observations of Japanese culture oscillates between genuine affection and bemused exacerbation. Instead, the author makes reference to obscure at least for a western audience movies and plays that are largely indecipherable to the outsider. That annoying characteristic aside, he does manage a pretty compelling hypothesis about the transmission of certain characteristics prominent in the Japanese psyche from the earliest historical records to the present.

Like, it’s a free country, you know? This controlled character finds emotional outlet through Shinto religious practices, creative mediums, or other rituals which are socially and psychologically compartmentalised from shared behavioural conventions.

Behind the Mask by Ian Buruma

However, he is always entertaining, never simplistic, and rarely judgmental at least not in any traditional sense. The final chapter on methods of blowing off steam in a relatively conformist society e.

First of all, it is likely dated since it was written in the 80s, almost 30 years ago. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Buruma starts off by distinguishing between Japanese progenitors Izanagi and Izanami and Adam and Eve–or “pollution” vs. Jul 21, Sarah – There is nothing that upsets me more than a bad book! Reading this book effectively made me want to experience all of the fiction tye throughout, and bejind gave me a perspective I hadn’t totally considered on how much fiction relates a cultures values at any given time.

Yet another book about Japan, but I totally loved it! Oct 14, Cassidy Sanfilippo rated it really liked it. By clicking on “Submit” you agree burma you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. After living in Japan for a couple years I thought this book would be interesting.


Keeping in mind that people in Japan, like all countries, are individuals and do not conform to some unitary national mode of thinking, it is immensely helpful to understand the standard cultural tropes with which people describe and relate to the world they live in.

We are sometimes presented with contextual information and close-reading of a few works by the one author; other sources receive just a cursory glance as they relate to an overarching theme. But the background to the cultural elements he described go back to the emergence of Shintoism, 11th century literary tradition, 18th century visual arts and theatre traditions, as he aims to give some idea of Japanese nationl identity, of ‘Japanesness’ p x Ian Buruma’s preface to the re-issue of this book, first published inpoints out that mqsk popular culture he wrote about in the early s will have changed greatly 30 years later, and will be unfamiliar to many young Japanese.

I still don’t know, and this much time put into a book should not make me feel that way accidentally. Ian Buruma is a great writer: Ian Buruma’s ‘Japanese Mirror: Having undoubtedly experienced varied cultural interactions first-hand through living in Japan for a number of years, Buruma masl mocks Japanese cultural exceptionalism without attempting to rationalise its presence.