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Kansai Cool: A Journey Into the Cultural Heartland of Japan [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Christal Whelan

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25. März 2014
In Kansai Cool, anthropologist, writer and filmmaker Christal Whelan offers deep insights into the clash of old and new, traditional and modern that plays out on a daily basis in Japan's ancient heartland.

The western region of Japan is known as Kansai—centering around the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara, and the sprawling, modern port cities of Osaka and Kobe. Kansai is Japan's "second region" after Tokyo—and is at once home to Japan's most traditional cultural centers and its most modern culture.

From the ancient beliefs of Kyoto to the contemporary otaku or "geek" culture of manga, anime, costume play, robots and video games, readers will see how cultures collide in:
  • The needs of the spirit: Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples
  • The arts: dance, painting, anime and martial combat
  • The relationship between hi-tech and old-tech: bikes and robots
  • Fashion trends: from exquisite kimonos to hip haute couture
  • The meaning of landscape: man-made islands and the mystical power of water

In this unique collection of 25 essays, Whelan dives beneath the surface of Japan to let readers experience how art, science, faith and history mesh in the Kansai region to produce a singular wellspring of traditional and modern Japanese culture.


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"This fascinating collection of essays illuminates the mind-blowing diversity of "cool" in contemporary Japan. From Lolita fashion to Buddhist microtemples, this is a must-read for anyone interested the hidden treasures of Kyoto, Osaka and Nara."—Ian Condry, MIT professor and author of The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan's Media Success Story

"Christal Whelan's highly intelligent new book on the essence of Japan seems to manage to include a revelation on every page…Endlessly engaging and supremely readable."—Simon Winchester, OBE, journalist, author of The Professor and the Madman

"A very fun read. I read this before spending a year in the Kansai region (Kyoto prefecture, to be precise) and as soon as I landed I was hearing all these wonderful Kinki words! Without this book giving me a basic understanding, I would have struggled a lot more. As well as being very light-hearted, it's very informative. And unlike some other books I've seen on Kansai-ben, it's very clear that there are a lot of differences between the different parts of the region." —Goodreads

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Christal Whelan is an anthropologist and interpreter who has lived and worked in Japan and Mongolia. She studied at Harvard University, Boston University, and Brown University. Many of the chapters in Kansai Cool originated from her former columns in Kansai Culturescapes, which ran in The Daily Yomiuri.

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Amazon.com: 4.9 von 5 Sternen  8 Rezensionen
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Kansai Cool: A Journey into the Cultural Heartland of Japan 4. April 2014
Von JEF - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Knowing relatively little of Japanese culture, I was delighted to receive a copy of this enlightening book. Christal has accomplished for the reader far more than a guide book. "..I wanted to return to an earlier time when I first set foot in Japan....to assist those who desire to go beyond the cultural stereotypes, predictable tourist sites, and would appreciate a combination of contemporary focus with more interpretive depth while traveling through a vibrant and ever evolving region." Short chapters, with accompanying photos, reflect her sense of humor and sensitivity to the natural world around us.The introduction is a bit difficult to absorb. As for the rest, I couldn't put it down!
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A cool book on Cool 1. April 2014
Von Galen Amstutz - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
There are many introductions and travel books on Japan for the general public, but not so many written by an anthropologist who has had a vast array of participant experiences, emphasizes the regional variations in Japanese life rather than the uniform Exotic, and sympathizes with esoteric Buddhism! Based on the author's work as a newspaper columnist aware of the challenge of introducing the uncommon side of Japan to visitors, the book offers 25 exceptionally readable short articles condensing a breadth of information (and usually containing some guidebook-style information) on an exuberant range of topics: clothing and fashion, bicycles, incense, pearls, crafts and dolls, food and drink, mural art, androids, places and pilgrimages, Lolitas, manga and anime, button dance, cosplay, nuclear power, and even toilets. Appreciating the pervasive Japanese mentality of hard work and thankfulness, but aware of both bright and dark faces of the culture, the author stresses the country's dynamic changeability and the creativity of its trends as it syncretically absorbs influences from all over the world. Highly recommended as a smart, up-to-date supplement to other kinds of introductory guides.
5.0 von 5 Sternen Lovely, Unusual, Informed Journey to Kyoto 6. Juni 2014
Von Patricia Lee Masters - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I simply loved the book and used it when taking friends to Kyoto this Spring. I have lived in Kyoto for ten years in the past and found Christal's choice of themes to highlight not only delightful and well-written but authentic and things that only a person with an intimate knowledge of Kyoto would know and choose! I have recommended it to many people so I hope you have more available soon!

You don't even have to be visiting Kansai to enjoy the book. If you are a Japan scholar or just a Gaijin with experience there or an interest in Japan, you will really enjoy this book. Kudos to Christal for a labor of love.
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Travel Book That Takes You on a Unique and Intimate Journey 20. Mai 2014
Von Cynthia Close - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
If you love to travel but hate being labeled a "tourist", if you approach each trip as a journey of discovery rather than simply arriving at a destination, if you are curious about Japan, it's people and it's culture, if you identify with any or all of these descriptions, then this book is for you.

Christal Whelan has an extensive academic background in cultural research as an anthropologist but she does not allow academic jargon to get in the way of the pleasure she obviously feels in telling us, her readers, about her own discoveries in Kansai "the cultural heartland of Japan."

The logical layout of the book, 25 essays under 6 headings; Nature, Industry, A Sense of Place, The Arts, Youth Culture, Religion - each followed by practical contact information for sites, corporations, products, etc. mentioned in the essay, is most useful. I loved the selection of photos, black and white in the text as well as a 32 page section of glossy color photos in the middle of the book that brought to life some of the unique people, places and things described in the text.

Accessible, yet informative, Kansai Cool can serve as a helpful guide whether your trip to Japan is real or imagined.
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Marvelous, Different and Fascinating Travel Companion 20. Mai 2014
Von jeffrey - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Christal Whelan’s book, Kansai Cool, a collection of essays, takes the reader on a delightful journey focusing on this culturally rich and nature-blessed region of Japan. Written beautifully and clearly, this book explores various aspects that help define the region’s special character in a wide range of matters including religion, arts, science, the natural world, and youth culture. The essays take the reader through a veritable “magical mystery tour” in which the reader is treated to narratives on subjects as diverse as bamboo, water, coffee, robots, comics, martial arts, pilgrimages, fashion, toilets, and religion in Kansai and broader Japanese culture. It opened windows to worlds I never knew existed, and thanks to Ms. Whelan’s curiosity and exploration, I have come to appreciate.

The essays are written in a way that can be valued by a range of readers, from those who are novices to Japan to those already possessing a strong foundation in this country’s evolving cultural character. Through more than 25 short essays, Ms. Whelan weaves stories, history and keen insights about contemporary Kansai, providing important historical context for current cultural trends. This is a book equally well suited for a traveler to Japan or a reader simply open to intellectually exploring a region of the world about which most Westerners know too little. Treat yourself and discover.
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