The thirteen chapters that comprise this volume remind us once again of the enormously complex and multi-faceted process through which Japan has been transformed from an isolated, agricultural society to an economic world power in the past century and half. They also show, perhaps more explicitly and clearly than most previous works on similar subjects, that the complexity of the process reflects the robustness, tenacity and, above all, adaptability of Japan’s native tradition in its encounter, and then perpetual contact, with the world beyond its own shores. The Japanese eagerly borrowed, adapted and exploited countless foreign ideas, techniques and institutions, even while they resisted, fought and rejected others. In the process, many aspects of the traditional Japanese culture and society have been transformed beyond recognition; many others, however, have survived remarkably intact and give contemporary Japan that distinctive flavour of an old insular culture which continues to delight and baffle not only foreign but many native scholars.
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