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All-Japan: the catalogue of everything Japanese.

Meanwhile, on both sides of the Pacific, nihon jin ron proliferate. One recent example by a Japanese-born Australian is a study of Japanese consumerism appropriately titled From Bonsai to Levi's. "In a vertical society, one is expected to rise, not fall," author George Fields notes. So because in Japan the more expensive Johnnie Walker Black was introduced first, it is not easy to sell Johnnie Walker Red. A far more charming effort to reply to the Portuguese Jesuit Joao Rodrigues's sixteenth-century contention that "nobody can understand them" is All-Japan: The Catalogue of Everything Japanese, a large-format, gorgeously illustrated paperback. Eight Japanists take turns exploring Japan's "lively arts of living," from "The Bath" and "The Tea Ceremony" to "Medicine" and "Child's Play." The detail is exquisite. The extraordinary photographs depict even the Japanese art of plastic food displays, called here "the mingei (folk craft) of modern-day Japan." There is also a robot rickshawman with Meiji period clothes and high-tech legs. (All-Japan tells us, however, that by far the best present for Japanese friends is a gift-wrapped fifth of Red or Black Label Johnnie Walker!)

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Author:Mellen, Joan
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 10, 1984
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