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 This site offers extensive pages on Japan's history, society and culture, in addition to my poetry, personal philosophy and publications.

  Brinckmann's collaborator on this website is Hiromi Mizoguchi, who is also responsible for the Japanese translation of his writings. See  Books  

***Also visit:  our bilingual Japanese/English website featuring reports on current developments in Japan and elsewhere. www.habri.jp  Updated monthly except August


Japanese Society and Culture in Perspective


my Thoughts on Life



Hans Brinckmann's Website


All content on this site is

© Hans Brinckmann

In addition to the Japan section, there are pages on several other topics of interest to me, especially poetry, personal philosophy, and my writing and publishing activities. Comments on any subject covered on this site are welcome at h2hpublishers+hotmail.com (replace + by @ when using this address; this is a security measure)

***For readers interested in the dramatic changes in Japanese society since the end of the second world war, right up to the first decade of the 21st century, I recommend my book, Showa Japan: the Post-War Golden Age and its Troubled Legacy (Tuttle, October 2008), available at major bookstores, www.tuttlepublishing.com , www.amazon.com, and other online booksellers. For a description of "Showa Japan" and my other books, click here:   Books              



A brief summary of each of the Japan pages follows the table of contents.


A. Japan Pages:

This section is dedicated to Japan - its culture and society at the beginning of the 21st century in historical perspective.  I have observed Japan since 1950, half that time as a resident. Since 2003 I divide my time between London and Tokyo, and actively follow developments in Japan, frequently lecturing and writing on the subject.

Note: Material from chapters 1. through 8. of this section has been used in my book, Showa Japan: the Post-War Golden Age and its Troubled Legacy (Tuttle Publishers, 2008).

Japanese Culture and Society in Perspective

1. Japanese Society at the start of the 21st Century    Click here: Japan Perspective 1

2. Caught between two cultures                                      Click here: Japan Perspective 1                                   

3. The social cost of the ‘construction state’                  Click here: Japan Perspective 1

4. Threats to stability                                                         Click here: Japan Perspective 1

5. Society’s drop-outs and the new free-lancers            Click here: Japan Perspective 1

6. Suicide, the dark shadow                                             Click here: Japan Perspective 1

7. The identity issue                                                           Click here: Japan Perspective 2

8. Attitudes and Opinions. A survey.                                Click here: Japan Perspective 2
    a. The end of life-time employment
    b. Individualism. You mean selfishness?
    c. The education conundrum
    d. Personal priorities in life
    e. The slow escape from insularity
    f. Emperor, or President?
    g. But what do you really think?
    h. Conclusions
9. The Overflowing Cup - a Zen experience                     Click here:    Zen 1963
Japan-related lectures and book launches

10.  'The Magatama Doodle - One man’s affair with Japan, 1950-2004’

     - Text of lecture.                                                               Click here: Japan Perspective 3

11. ‘From shibumi to super-brands: the lost values of Showa'

     -  Text of lecture.                                                               Click here: Japan Perspective 3

12. Erasmus/De Liefde: The story of the first Dutch ship to arrive in Japan, AD 1600

     - Text of lecture                                                                 Click here: Erasmus


Photo exhibitions, jointly with Ysbrand Rogge

13. 'Showa Japan, seen through Dutch eyes', exhibition of over 130 photographs at Fuji Film Square, Tokyo Midtown, Tokyo, August 29 to September 30, 2008. The event attracted over 49,000 visitors.

Click here: FujiFilm Exhibition

14. 'Showa Japan, seen through Dutch eyes,' at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Tokyo, January/February 2009. This was a partial repeat of the September 2008 exhibition at Fuji Film Square (see no. 13).

Click here: FCCJ Exhibition

    B. A Moving Equilibrium - Personal Philosophy  Click here:  âme

    C. Powerful Feelings Captures - Poetry            Click here:       poetry

    D. Books by Hans Brinckmann:  Books


    www.habri.jp  Hans Brinckmann and Hiromi Mizoguchi's bi-lingual (Japanese & English) site with current information about         their activities and essays on ongoing changes in Japanese society. Updated monthly.           

    www.xs4all.nl/~wichm/japanE1.html (and sequels)   Japan-pages of my good firend Ysbrand Rogge (aka Michael Rogge), including photographs and video clips dating back to his stay in Japan (1955-1960). Part of an extensive website.

    www.uchiyama.nl  Extensive information source about every aspect of Japan (in Dutch and English)

    http://www.j-nls.org/index.html Japan-Netherlands Society, Tokyo. The friendship society between Japan and the Netherlands, originally established in 1912. Honorary Patron H.I.H. Prince Akishino   

    http://www.naokonet.com/profile.htm  Homepage of Naoko Richters, has published books on Dutch education and society and writes columns for the Asahi Shimbun. For the English part of her website, scroll down.

    http://home.kpn.nl/hansvanrossum/index.html#omar  The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam, as translated into English andDutch by my good friend Hans van Rossum. His site also contains a weblog, pages on astrology and Down Syndrome, and sayings by Bob Dylan, Albert Camus, Thomas Jefferson and many others. 


    1. Japanese Society in the first decade of the 21st Century.

    Click here: Japan Perspective 1


    After a prolonged period of painful adjustment following the collapse of the bubble economy around 1990, the economy returned to moderate growth around 2002. But the events of 2008 has once again plunged Japan Japanese society had changed. Old values were eroding, unemployment had risen sharply, the birth rate is the lowest in the world, and millions of young people feel alienated. The national debt has spun out of control, exacerbated by questionable pork barrel schemes. Relations with China and Korea have worsened alarmingly. The political right is in the ascendant. Badly needed educational reform is bogged down in controversy.

    2. Caught between two Cultures

    Click here: Japan Perspective 1

    Japan's century-old conundrum—how to reconcile its deliberate Western leanings with its Asian roots—has not been solved by its advanced technology, economic success and mass overseas travel. Many Japanese feel they belong nowhere.

    3. The Social Cost of the Construction State

    Click here: Japan Perspective 1

    Massive pok-barrel works: roads, bridges, the concreting of river beds and coastlines - often in sparsely populated areas, have destroyed much natural beauty and wildlife and caused an astronomical national debt. Cosy relations between government, the bureaucracy and the construction lobby are to blame.

    4. Threats to Stability

    Click here: Japan Perspective 1

    Huge anti-gvernment demonstrations in 1960; novelist Yukio Mishima's 1970 attempt to cause an uprising among the military, and his suicide; the bizarre activities of the "Red Army Faction" in 1972; ; the heinous sarin gas attack on subway passengers by a "religious" sect committed to "cleansing the world" in 1995; and North Korea's firing of a missile across Japan in 1998.

    5. Society’s drop-outs and the new free-lancers

    Click here: Japan Perspective 1

    Millions of men and women in their 20s and 30s have turned their back on established social norms and traditional career patterns. Some are self-employed. Most make a modest living as part-time workers, or live off the fruits of their parents’ hard work. Perhaps a million are hermits.

    6. Suicides: over 30,000 a year

    Click here: Japan Perspective 1

    Japan's suicide rate is among the highest in the developed world. Illness and poverty are aleading cause, but in recent years losing one's job and pessimism about the future have considerably raised the numbers.

    7. The identity issue

    Click here: Japan Perspective 2

    The Japanese are unusually preoccupied with their identity as a people and as individuals. Their search has spawned a library of books on ‘Japaneseness’. The weakening of the traditional group culture and family values confronts many with the need to find their own identity.

    8. Attitudes and Opinions. A survey

    Click here: Japan Perspective 2

    Results of a written survey on lifestyles, employment preferences, educational standards, the monarchy, and other topics. A cross-section of 100 Japanese. Plus discussions with another 25. In eight parts.

    9. The Overflowing Cup - A Zen experience

    Click here: perspective4

    Detailed account of Hans Brinckmann’s 1960s stays in Zen temples in Kyoto and Yokohama, and discussions with Zen masters.

    10. Text of speech at Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Tokyo

    Click here: Japan Perspective 3

    On 15 February 2005 Hans Brinckmann introduced his The Magatama Doodle - One Man’s Affair with Japan, 1950-2004, at the FCCJ. The book’s Japanese translation was acclaimed in the leading daily Asahi Shimbun and many other publications. Text of his speech and of the Q & A that followed.

    11. ‘From shibumi to super-brands: the lost values of Showa’, a lecture

    Click here: Japan Perspective 3
    There is a current nostalgia in Japan for the Showa era (which ended in 1989) - its values of hard work, sober tastes and social cohesion. This fond perception contrasts sharply with a growing income gap, apathy among the young and widespread pursuit of a materialistic lifestyle in Japan today. The speaker explored the implications of the loss of ‘Showa values’.  (Text of Brinckmann’s lecture to the Japan Society, London, 12 September 2005.)

    12. Erasmus/De Liefde: The story of the first Dutch ship to arrive in
    Japan, AD 1600

    Click here: Erasmus/De Liefde

    The first Dutch ship to arrive in Japan was De Liefde, which dropped anchor off Kyushu in April, 1600, after a harrowing, two-year voyage, with only 24 of its 110 crew still alive. What was the purpose of this perilous journey, and why did the ship carry a carving of the Rotterdam humanist Erasmus on its stern? Where is that carving now? An account of a fascinating piece of history. (Text of Brinckmann’s lecture at the Tokyo National Museum, 12 November, 2008, under auspices of the Japan-Netherlands Society).

    13. 'Showa Japan, seen through Dutch eyes', exhibition of over 130 photographs at Fuji Film Square, Tokyo Midtown, Tokyo, August 29 to September 30, 2008.

    The event attracted over 49,000 visitors.

    Click here: FujiFilmExhibition

    14.  Photo exhibition at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan,
    Tokyo, January 18 to February 28 2009. This was a smaller version of 'Showa Japan, seen through Dutch eyes', exhibition at Fuji Film Square, in September, 2008.


    Click here: FCCJ Exhibition           

    © Hans Brinckmann 2006-2013

    Created: 16 February 2006 ; last updated 5 August 2014