Koryu.com Book Reviews

Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia.
Published by Kodansha International.
2 vols., hardbound.
Purchase from Amazon. (paid link)

Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia is a treasure-trove of information about Japan. Based on the nine-volume (and unaffordable) Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan (1983), this new two-volume version contains 12,000 entries, 4,000 color photos and illustrations, 20 pages of maps, a 24-page chronological chart, a 14-page bibliography, and a bilingual index. Entries include kana or kanji in addition to romanizations. Aikido is represented by a brief, but accurate sketch, as well as a full-color photo. Although the material on martial arts is not particularly extensive (reference to specialized sources would be advised), for day-to-day answers to questions like "Who was Katsu Kaishu, and what did he do?" or for an explanation of the Buddhist Fudoo Myoo, this tome delivers. The English is occasionally precarious, but the wealth of information and beauty and intelligence of the presentation outweigh this lapse. Although Japan: An Illustrated Encylopedia is expensive it is well worth the price and it is highly recommended for professionals dealing with anything to do with Japan.

Diane Skoss

©1994 Diane Skoss. All rights reserved.
This review first appeared in Aikido Journal #99, vol. 21, no. 2.

Classical Japanese Martial Arts
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Classical Japanese Martial Arts