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When I began to read this book it seemed to be a walk through memory lane. However, for those who did not experience these years, Brinckman provides a fair picture of how Japan seemed to a sympathetic foreigner.

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Showa Japan: The Post-War Golden Age and Its Troubled Legacy - Hans Brinckmann - Google Книги

There are few new insights but the ground has been well trodden by others. I found the second half of the book which looks at the post-bubble years and the challenges facing Japan today more interesting, because it raises fundamental questions about how Japan may develop in the twenty-first century. He asks what has happened to the dreams and ambitions of the young and the tendency to acquiesce in what is prescribed by those in authority.

Before reaching this depressing conclusion Brinckman reiterates a number of criticisms of Japanese ways which have been made by others including another Netherlander Ian Buruma. There is plenty of food for thought by the Japanese in this book, but they are unlikely to read it. Today, the term Showa is shorthand for a glamorous period in which, all too briefly, Japan was the richest nation on earth and the envy of the developed world.

A growing nostalgia for this period is now memorialized in Japan in a national holiday.


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It was an era of stratospheric growth which saw Japan's transition from an isolated, impoverished nation to a peaceful one holding an exalted position as the world's second largest economy. But what is the true meaning of the Showa era, and what is its legacy for the Japanese today? In Showa Japan , Hans Brinckmann provides a clear-eyed exploration of the Showa period as it really was—not just a time of wondrous change but of wild excesses that would eventually come crashing down with the bursting of Japan's economic bubble—exactly as occurred in the rest of the world, but almost 20 years earlier!

From the heights of extravagance to the lean years that followed, Brinkmann, a long-time resident of Japan, examines the impact of the Showa era and its aftermath on every aspect of Japanese society. Featuring dozens of period photographs, interviews, and a wealth of factual information and personal reflections, this book provides an in-depth portrait of a Japan that once was—as well as a blueprint for one that might still be, if only the lessons of the past could be learned.

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Showa Japan: the Post-War Golden Age and Its Troubled Legacy

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