Comment by Professor Akira Hayami, Emeritus Professor of Economic History,
Keio University, Japan

I have finished reading your book "Japan Through the Looking Glass."

First of all I have been deeply struck by your accurate perception and deep
analyses of Japan, the Japanese and Japanese culture.

Before reading your book, I had thought that the best understanding of
Japan was to be found in the final pages on Japan in Fernand Braudel's
'Grammaire des Civilisation'(1987). But just twenty years later, unlike
him, you came and lived in Japan several times. Although his name will be
left on my list of the academic studies of Japan, I will certainly put your
book first.

Your knowledge, analytic skill and insightfulness have synthesized and
created this book.

I know that my English is not good enough to express what I think, so
please read between the lines (yokan wo yomu).

I have been most impressed by three things in your book.

The first is at page 140, where you put together the binary possibilities
of society in Japan and comment that it "seems to have all of these
characteristics." This would lead the Japan watcher very astray. We
Japanese do not see this ourselves as it is too natural. From this point
of view, we must have a mirror to reflect ourselves in. 

Secondly, you pointed out that in Japan there is nothing of religion in
the Axial sense. Although I have not yet been able to find the most likely
Japanese translation for 'Axial', it is very difficult for a monotheist to
understand how most Japanese people have their marriage ceremony at a
Christian Church, go to Shinto shrines at the New Year to pray for a
year's peace, and have their funeral ceremony at a Buddhist temple.

For Japanese, Christianity, Shinto and Buddhism are not each a
'religion.' They are a convenient organization to manage the ceremonies of
mundane life. Certainly Japanese are not anti-religious nor atheist. But
they have no concrete faith in any religion. 

Finally you mention that "Japan is one civilisation (underlined by myself)
which can not be divided into segments.." (p.221) Yes all of the
components are connected with each other.

If the modern sector, for example industry, transportation, and the
military system have common features with the West, when we go inside
them, the human relations and responsibility of each person at any level is
totally different from the West. With such a 'soft' dimension, Japan is
absolutely unique because the 'hard' (external) dimension is so similar to
that of Western industrialized countries.

In general, the most difficult chapter to understand was 'Beliefs.' But
your book is more than a mirror. I can understand Japanese and/or Western
 civilizations much better than before. 

As for some small points where I have criticisms, most of these are caused
by the conclusions of Japanese scholars, including myself. And all these
are minor and not serious faults in the light of your glorious achievement.

With my best and highest respects,   

Akira Hayami