Kaempfer's Japan (Hardcover)
Tokugawa Culture Observed
University of Hawaii Press, 9780824819644, 545pp.
Publication Date: April 1, 1999
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Kaempfer's work remains one of the most valuable sources for historians of the Tokugawa period. The narrative describes what no Japanese was permitted to record (the details of the shogun's castle, for example) and what no Japanese thought worthy of recording (the minutiae of everyday life). However, all previous translations of the History are flawed, being based on the work of an eighteenth-century Swiss translator or that of the German editor some fifty years later who had little knowledge of Japan and resented Kaempfer's praise of the heathen country. Beatrice Bodart-Bailey's impressive new translation of this classic, which reflects careful studyKaempfer's original manuscript, reclaims the work for the modern reader, placing it in the context of what is currently known about Tokugawa Japan and restoring the humor and freshness of Kaempfer's observations and impressions.