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Japan's New Middle Class: The Salary Man and His Family in a Tokyo Suburb

Japan's New Middle Class; The Salary Man and His Family in a Tokyo Suburb - Ezra F. Vogel probably there isn't any huge contradiction between rating a book a "4" and not feeling particularly inclined to recommend it to the casual reader. this is an academic treatise. thus, it is full of extremely dry statistics such as "72% of the households have a color TV" and "the average commute is 114 minutes long." Vogel separates a Tokyo bedroom community into "the salarymen" "the independent professionals" "workers and merchants" and then interviews in-depth the families to discover such surprising facts as that 14% of middle-aged Japanese women have learned to enjoy sexual intercourse. shocked, I tell you. shocked.

some of the appeal of this work, if it can be tracked down, is that it is of course to large degree a period piece of its own kind, lurching off into Margaret Mead style ethnography (much about "kinship relations" ha!), and then like counting the precise amount of minutes of foreplay. apparently the Japanese in 1968 had about 75% as much sexual intercourse as Americans. the gap has dramatically increased. (Americans are having more sex than in 1968; Japanese far less). also noteworthy as dated is the overall feel of the community itself-- the people are self-satisfied, secure, and confident about the future. the confidence, especially, has disappeared.

Japan, if I can characterie it today, is full of the feeling of "things closing down." if on the one hand we are--Americans, Japanese, Canadians, Chinese, Europeans, British, whatnot--think it's good that former Third World countries are now getting their act together and becoming international economic powerhouses, of course power in the end has a zero-sum quality to it as well, so there is a trace of wistfulness in 2013 Japan about the time when its dominance was so assured that there was no 'balance of importance' between them and continental Asians. in 1968 if you picked a random Japanese out of the country and a random Chinese out of his/her nation, the difference would be night and day: the Japanese would probably know Stendahl or at least Turgenev; the Chinese would be buck-toothed and fertilizing his rice paddy with human waste. today this same experiment carried out, well, with the statistically average Tokyo dweller and statistcally average Shanghai-ite would reveal the Chinese still noticeably poorer, unhealthier, laggard-- but the Shanghai's daughter would be enrolled in a two year college and so would the Tokyoite's. this is the erosion of privilege / power.

懐かしい! would exclaim most Japanese, I think, reading of the days when the three C's (cooler, car, air-conditioner?) gave way to the four T's (travel, Timex watch... uhhh I think I'm remembering the mnemonic wrong. but anyway, clearly this is a period piece. this captures a very special moment in time. Haruki Murakami wasn't even born yet ha. (actually he was...) so that's why we give 4 **** rating out of 5. captures a moment. captures sociology. actually goes deep, statistically, into the statistically average bedroom community. the relationships between in-laws. country families and town. the personality of the sociologist rarely intrudes, which is good and professional, and when there are moments, those are of a sort of light humor. (viz., "The Japanese by 1978, in my ten year followup, have learnt all the lessons from the Americans they need. The training--and the apprenticeship--are over." bwahahahah)

Anyway, I guess this is getting pretty long. but if you do find a copy, it's not totally out-dated or useless in explaining a significant percentage (still) of Japanese. a good read