Kindle Ö Japan in Print Information and Nation in the Early Modern

A uiet revolution in knowledge separated the early modern period in Japan from all previous time After 1600 self appointed investigators used the model of the land and cartographic surveys of the newly unified state to observe and order subjects such as agronomy medicine gastronomy commerce travel and entertainment They subseuently circulated their findings through a variety of commercially printed texts maps gazetteers family encyclopedias urban directories travel guides official personnel rosters and instruction manuals for everything from farming to lovemaking In this original and gracefully written book Mary Elizabeth Berry considers the social processes that drove the information explosion of the 1600s Inviting readers to examine the contours and meanings of this transformation Berry provides a fascinating account of the conversion of the public from an object of state surveillance into a subject of self knowledgeJapan in Print shows how as investigators collected and disseminated richly diverse data they came to presume in their audience a standard of cultural literacy that changed anonymous consumers into an us bound by common frames of reference This shared space of knowledge made society visible to itself and in the process subverted notions of status hierarchy Berry demonstrates that the new public texts projected a national collectivity characterized by universal access to markets mobility sociability and self fashioning

10 thoughts on “Japan in Print Information and Nation in the Early Modern Period Asia Local StudiesGlobal Themes

  1. says:

    This is a scholarly book written for an academic audience about a subject I know almost nothing about so at times I found it heavy going On the whole however it was really interesting; I had never thought about maps this way nor did I know how much a product of the early modern period they are and the picture she gives of Edo and Kyoto in the 17th and 18th centuries is amazing I now wish to read books about this period especially about women's lives as there were many women pictured and mentioned in her uotes from her sources than I would have expected one of those moments in which I realised how much I do not know

  2. says:

    This book was similar to Berry’s other book which I read a few months ago in two important respects On the one hand in some ways I t is an impressive piece of scholarship She clearly reviewed hundreds if not thousands of primary sources many of which were in Japanese to write a very comprehensive review of the topic On the other hand this book as was the case with her other book which I have read this one was also not reader friendly The author did use some narratives of people places traditions etc which were engaging But as with the other book the prose often contained long complex compound sentences Sometimes these involved long lists of 6 8 even names places etc and some of those have sub lists of even examples contained inside parentheses For me anyway all of this made it slow going if not downright tedious at times Because of this I found it hard to assimilate let alone recall the points which she was trying to make Chapters on maps and rosters included numerous sample maps andor prints of drawings of various areas of Kyoyo or Edo Tokyo in the pre modern era Likewise Berry’s chapter on the rosters of military men aristocrats etc contained many examples While these rosters were informative they were all in Japanese Why not translate some or at least part of them into English for non Japanese readers like me? In regards to the maps the author made references to color coding or shading but blackwhite printing eliminated that info I realize printing maps in books is expensive But the manner in which these were presented were much less instructive than they could have been The chapter on cities described in great detail the various inventories and guides developed for Kyoto and Edo of various aspects of life there While these were informative lengthy descriptions and examples were provided to such an extent that it became tedious Between the prose and all of the detailed descriptions this book often became a matter of TMI IMHO Towards the end of the book I wondered why the editor allowed all of this to happen? Was it because Berry is a highly esteemed professor of history at UC Berkeley? So they let her pretty much have her way when it came to a finished manuscript? Or did the editor determine that this would be an academic treatise aimed at an audience of experts? Overall I would say that I was as much if not relieved as I was satisfied at the completion of this book The written text is only 250 pages long But the ‘hard work’ of reading it was finally over Thus I would give it 3 stars Berry wrote a book on Hideyoshi one of the three war lords responsible for the unification of Japan in the late 16th century But after having struggled to get through two of her books I think I will look elsewhere ifwhen I want to read something about this important figure in Japan’s history Maybe a break will make me inclined to want to read something else by her But I doubt it

  3. says:

    Easily one of my favourites in the books I've had to read for classes While being a history book Berry takes an almost sociological approach in analyzing the way knowledge was disseminated through the merchant classes of Japan in the mid to late Tokugawa period Extensively researched there's little I have to say in criticism of the main thesis of the book that through not publishing their own information the Tokugawa shogunate allowed the populace of Japan really anyone that could get their hands on a book and with cash crop farming and the rise of the wealthy peasant to say nothing of the skyrocketing merchant class that was and people as the years wore on to create their own kind of social mobility and form connections through knowledge not class The chapters on maps got a little stale at times but Berry's writing style makes it easier to slog through them I could spend a week just reading the footnotes

  4. says:

    Professor Berry's sharp intellect is at work in every sentence of her book which speaks with authority and originality She makes even the most tedious directory on persons products and places sound interesting to read However she does not engage much with Japanese language works or theories on maps and space making This may be the author's conscious choice though some readers may be disappointed

  5. says:

    Amazing A masterpiece Wonderful narrative combined with in depth analysis