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Dr Christopher Hood discusses new book ‘Japan: The Basics’

16 March 2015

Christopher Hood

Dr Christopher Hood's book Japan: The Basics has been a mainstay on the charts of Amazon Japan for weeks. We spoke to Dr Hood, Reader in Japanese Studies at the School of Modern Languages to find out more about his latest book.

Tell us about Japan: The Basics – what was your impetus to write it?

I was approached by the publisher, Routledge and asked to submit a proposal for a book about Japan to add to their The Basics series. The Basics is a highly successful series of accessible guidebooks which provide an overview of the fundamental principles of a subject area in a jargon-free and undaunting format. Although the book may be considered a textbook, it also includes a lot of original research. Given the likely readership, I decided to use some of the stereotypes and clichés about Japan, which continue to be used by the media and indeed students, as the starting point and built upon these.

Rather than trying to provide all the answers about Japan I put greater emphasis on trying to help provide new students of Japan with the right questions and ways of studying Japan.

Who do you envisage reading Japan: The Basics?

The Basics series of books are intended for readers coming to a subject for the first time which usually means a combination of students, particularly undergraduates or high school students, and general readers. It was very challenging writing the book to pitch it at the right level. It was made all the harder as I didn't want the book to be seen and treated just as a textbook, but wanted to show off some of my recent research.

Due to the title of the book and the series that it fits in, it may be that this research won't be read by some who would find it useful, but perhaps in years to come, books such as this will help change the way 'textbooks' are viewed and valued by the academic community.

What's next for you? Do you have any other books on the horizon?

I am just about to go on another short fieldtrip to Japan. Once that is done I am planning on developing a proposal for a new book related to change and continuity in Japan, using the transportation industry (primarily airplanes and the shinkansen 'bullet train') as means to discuss a number of areas. I am also continuing to write some articles related to world's single largest plane crash which occurred in Japan in 1985 and about which I have already authored two books. Other than that, I am also trying to complete my first novel!

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