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Nippon Foundation's 100 Books for Understanding Contemporary Japan

Books to understand modern Japanese society and thought, art and literature

Why Did the Nippon Foundation Donate 100 Books to Rice Library?

100 Books for Understanding Contemporary Japan

 Japanese popular culture, from manga and animation to cuisine and fashion, is becoming increasingly popular among people of all ages overseas. Some of these people, curious to find out the real story about Japan will come to the country in person, yet this avenue is not open to the vast majority. What could be an alternative way to understand modern Japanese society and thought?

 There are many sources of information about Japan: print, broadcasts, and the internet, to name but a few. These media do portray Japan after a fashion, however the key is being able to find reliable and intellectually stimulating opinions and insights. The book is an important medium that gives us a valuable opportunity to think and reflect. How, then, does one go about finding a truly reliable book?

To simplify the process of hunting down authoritative works on Japan, The Nippon Foundation set in motion a book program, the first step of which was to ask ten experts with extensive knowledge of the country to select 100 books to serve as useful guides for those who want to understand present day Japan but find themselves in the unfortunate situation of having no, or restricted, access to quality reading material.

 During the selection process, the committee members were able to draw on entirely different backgrounds and points of view, having experience in business, academic, media, government, cultural, and NGO-related circles. The 100 books look at Japan from every angle, giving the reader an introduction to one of the most complex societies in the world. The books cover such topics as foreign policy, business and management, society and culture, films and animation, classic and contemporary literature, and history. Most of the books listed are recent publications, but some older classics have been included to give a better appreciation of the historical background of the nation. A serious, concentrated reading of these 100 books will add up to an extensive education on the topic of modern Japan.

What Are the Books and Their Call Numbers?

This is an Excel spreadsheet list of the books, their authors and call numbers, divided into these broad categories:

  • Politics/Government/International Relations
  • Economics/Business
  • Society/Culture
  • Literature/Arts
  • History

 The reference librarian can help you find the books, Just Ask!  And no worries, they're all in English.

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