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The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

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The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture is a 1946 study of Japan by American anthropologist Ruth Benedict. It was written at the invitation of the U.S. Office of War Information, in order to understand and predict the behavior of the Japanese in World War II by reference to a series of contradictions in traditional culture. The book was influential in shaping American ideas about Japanese culture during the occupation of Japan, and popularized the distinction between guilt cultures and shame cultures.Although it has received harsh criticism, the book has continued to be influential. Two anthropologists wrote in 1992 that there is "a sense in which all of us have been writing footnotes to [Chrysanthemum] since it appeared in 1946". The Japanese, Benedict wrote, are both aggressive and unaggressive, both militaristic and aesthetic, both insolent and polite, rigid and adaptable, submissive and resentful of being pushed around, loyal and treacherous, brave and timid, conservative and hospitable to new ways... The book also affected Japanese conceptions of themselves. The book was translated into Japanese in 1948 and became a bestseller in the People's Republic of China when relations with Japan soured.
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original title: The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture
language: English
date of publication: 1946
main subject: culture of Japan

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