BEHIND THE MASK. On Sexual Demons, Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, Gangsters, Drifters And Other Japanese Cultural Heroes. by Ian. Ian Buruma, Behind the Mask: On Sexual Demons, Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, Gangsters, Drifters, and Other Japanese Cultural Heroes. Behind the mask: on sexual demons, sacred mothers, transvestites, gangsters, and other Japanese cultural heroes. Front Cover. Ian Buruma. New American.

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Trivia About Behind the Mask: First of all, it is likely dated since it was written in the 80s, almost 30 years ago. The wandering loner is a lifestyle which is simultaneously romanticised and pitied.

BEHIND THE MASK by Ian Buruma | Kirkus Reviews

So now I have two copies. Going into this book, I was expecting a more clear cut historical look at these figures stated in the title in Japan. He then discusses key works across a variety of genres, including No and Kabuki theater, fiction, and later film and manga.

Naturally, these reflect behnd times and circumstances May 14, Kimberlee Kimura rated it it was amazing. Yet another book about Japan, but I totally loved it! Buruma has a clear-eyed and yet wry and ironical tone when discussing Japan that can be very refreshing or grate on the nerves, depending on what mood the reader is in.

Behind the Mask

But for a general overview of Japanese aesthetics and construction of characters, it is still a good read. However, he is always entertaining, never simplistic, and rarely judgmental at least not in any traditional sense. The term is not really used for foreigners who, one can only assume, lack such a thing. What makes them tick? Jul 21, Sarah – There is nothing that upsets me more than a bad book! Jacob van Berkel rated it really liked it May 28, In the hermit’s cave where I live I’d never heard of Buruma.


I will be actively seeking his work out which rarely say about anyone.

Ian Buruma’s ‘Japanese Mirror: Even one more page per chapter expanding on the social aspect of things outside of fiction could have really provided that extra reinforcement for the ideas being presented that I think this book needs. Idolised cultural figures are frequently outsiders who defy pervasive social norms. My biggest criticism would be that the introduction of each section didn’t always provide the most solid foundation for what would be presented throughout the chapter which made it feel like the lack of fully formed ideas was being supplemented by examples.

The only downside I can find with the book is unsy A gem of a book I accidentally stumbled upon. There’s a glitch in Goodreads. But the background to the cultural elements he described go back to the emergence of Shintoism, 11th century literary tradition, 18th century visual arts and theatre traditions, as he aims to give some idea of Japanese nationl identity, of ‘Japanesness’ p x Ian Buruma’s preface to the re-issue of this book, first published inpoints out that the popular culture burum wrote about in the early s will have changed tue 30 years later, and will be unfamiliar to many young Japanese.

The depth in which Buruma engages varies from source to source. It helps if this spirit is Japanese.


The last sentences of the book sum up: The morbid and sometimes grotesque taste that runs through Japanese culture–and has done so for centuries–is a direct result of being made to conform to such a strict and limiting code of normality. Literary figures are used to demonstrate a Japanese cultural behinnd that exists between the public and private sphere.

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The history is a mirror that reflects modern Japanese beehind and through the past you come to understand this unique country. Yet, I learned a lot from this book.

I don’t know how beneficial it was for me to read this. Ian Buruma knows what he is writing about small wonder since he had been living in Japan for seven years and has very insightful and sharp remarks about the Japanese society and some of its particularities the cult of mother, the worship of immaculate beauty that reaches its peak in destruction, etc.

Heroes and Villains in Japanese Culture’ opens by exploring Japan’s eighth-century foundational myth. There are enough tidbits in here about things that sound crazy from the perspective of a Westerner, but make sense in the Japanese way of thinking Thanks for telling us about the problem.

I felt really beehind through most of it, because it focused beuind such grotesque aspects of Japanese culture and insisted they were the socially acceptable norm. Unless you don’t want to. I fully understand why Buruma declined to revise this book, because his life too has moved on and Japan is no longer the primary focus of his interest.

That annoying characteristic aside, he does manage a pretty compelling hypothesis about the transmission of certain characteristics prominent in the Japanese psyche from the earliest historical records to the present.