While one may be quick to assume that the ethnography of Japan begins and ends with Ruth Benedict’s Chrysanthemum and the Sword, the last eighty-years have in fact given us a large store of ethnographic accounts of the Japanese archipelago. Here you will find a collection of my critical reflections on a few of the more notable works in the field.

ryan sayre


tokyo japan


Suye Mura: A Japanese Village

John Embree (1936)

City Life in Japan: Life in a Tokyo Ward

Ronald Dore (1958)

Village Japan

Beardsley, Hall, and Ward (1959)

Illness and Culture in Contemporary Japan

Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney (1984)

Japan’s New Middle Class: The Salary Man and his Family

Ezra Vogel (1972)

Socialization for Achievement:Essays on the Cultural Psychology of the Japanese

George De vos (1973)

For Harmony and Strength: Japanese White-Collar Organization in Anthropological Perspective

Thomas Rohlen (1979)

The After Hours: Modern Japan and the Search for EnjoymentDavid Plath (1964)

Women of Suye Mura

Robert John Smith, Ella Lury Wiswell (1982)

Japan’s High Schools

Thomas Rohlen (1983)

William W. Kelly - Various Texts

William Kelly

Neighborhood Tokyo

Theodore Bestor (1990)

Modern Japan Through its Weddings: Gender, Person, and Society in Ritual Portrayal

Walter Edwards (1990)

Crafting Selves

Deborah Kondo (1991)

Kamikaze Biker: Parody and Anomy in Affluent Japan

Ikuya Sato (1991)

Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club

Anne Allison (1994)

North Koreans in Japan: Language, Ideology, and Idenity

Sonya Ryang (1997)

Office Ladies and Salaried Men: Power, Gender, and Work in Japanese Companies

Yuko Ogasawara (1998)

National Character: Various Authors

Caudill, Plath, and Morsbach and Tyler

Men of Uncertainty

Tom Gill (2001)

Brokered Homelands

Joshua Roth (2002)

Deaf in Japan: Signing and the Politics of Idenity

Karen Nakamura (2006)

Hip-Hop Japan

Ian Condry (2006)