Few books have tested the limits of this reviewer's arsenal of superlatives quite like this one. The two-volume set boasts authoritative contributors (1400 from Japan and around the world), comprehensiveness, ease of use (cross references, a bilingual index), and handy supplementary materials (atlas, bibliography, chronology). The work is current: articles from an earlier nine-volume version ( Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan, LJ 1/84) have been updated and often completely rewritten. The subject matter ranges far beyond history, politics, and biography, which were the main focus of the 1983 work. This new set includes features on topics as varied as making sushi, corporate socializing, and literary best sellers. The ponderous style that burdens most reference books is missing here: Japan actually invites casual reading. Finally, unlike the earlier work, this set is lavishly illustrated with color photographs, maps, and charts. The publisher, the distinguished board of editors, and an army of contributors deserve high praise for this monument of scholarship. No reference collection should be without it.
- John H. Boyle, California State Univ., Chico
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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