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Is Japan Losing its Culture? – Part 1: A History of Cultural Adoption

I want to talk about the problem I usually find when non-Japanese people talk about Japanese culture, which is that they generalize too much. They make sweeping statements that are inherently too loaded to be anything but false. This is usually because they approach Japan through the lens of their own culture – the etic approach, in anthropological terms. Japan can only possibly be understood in the greater Japanese context – one that considers its history, and its interaction with other nations. Making a statement like “Japan is very ________, and here’s my anecdote…” is an approach doomed to failure. For example, I often hear complaints that Japan is becoming highly Westernized, or more specifically, Americanized. A big concern is that they’re losing their culture. …But is it true? Is Japan losing its culture?

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