"Thinking beyond the 'nets of understanding' that have not helped us to capture Japan, Alan Macfarlane layers many years of careful contemporary observation, dialogues with important Japanese thinkers, an impressive breadth of reading in scholarship on Japan to reach with informed imagination for the gestalt that is Japan. Here is a real-live 'looking glass world,' an extraordinary civilization built on contingency and 'relationality' in which our conventional-yet essential-distinctions between mind and body, individual and society, artificial and natural, human and divine do not hold. Deeply attracted and yet troubled by Japan, Macfarlane turns his anthropologist's perplexity into an exercise of 'thinking with' Japan about basic issues of how modern civilizations form and cohere. The result is a disarming, engaging, and provocative book."