The term Nihonjinron (日本人論?) literally means theories/discussions about the Japanese. The term refers to a genre of texts that focuses on issues of Japanese national and cultural identity. The literature is vast, ranging over such varied fields as sociology, psychology, history, linguistics, philosophy, and even science. Though published predominantly in Japan by Japanese, noted examples of the genre have also been penned by foreign scholars, journalists and residents.
The term itself came into vogue after World War II to describe books and articles that aim to analyze, explain, or divagate on the putative peculiarities of Japanese culture and mentality, above all by comparison with foreign countries, especially Europe and the United States. However Asian countries increasingly figure in recent works. Such texts share a general vision of what constitutes the uniqueness of Japan, and the term nihonjinron can be employed to refer to this outlook. One may also speak of books written by non-Japanese authors as nihonjinron, insofar as they share, contribute to, or reflect the vision, premises, and perspectives characteristic of the Japanese genre.
Though the generic word nihonjinron is most frequently used to describe the phenomenon, a variety of topical terms are also current that classify the many sub-genres of nihonjinron, according to specific theme or subject-matter. For example:
- shinfūdoron (新風土論): "new theories on climate" (implying the influence of climate on peoples)
- nihonbunkaron (日本文化論): "theories on Japanese culture"
- nihonshakairon (日本社会論): "theories on Japanese society"
- nihonron (日本論): "theories on Japan"
- nihonkeizairon (日本経済論) "theories on the Japanese economy"
Books on nihonjinron typically contain the following five premises:
- Uniqueness: Japan, its people, culture, language, etc., are unique
- This uniqueness of the Japanese is rooted in the distinctive characteristics of the Japanese race or ethnos
- Ahistorical essentialism: The peculiarities of the Japanese remain unaltered essentially throughout history, and indeed, it is often asserted, are derived from a prehistorical world
- Homogeneity: The Japanese are homogeneous as people
- Language: The Japanese language contains words and phrases that cannot be understood by foreigners
Types of Nihonjinron
According to a survey conducted by Nomura Research Institute (野村総合研究所), 698 books on nihonjinron had been published in Japan between 1946 and 1978. Their breakdown of the major themes of nihonjinron is as follows:
- General books:
- Nihonjinron written by philosophers—5.5%
- Nihonjinron written by literary/dramatic authors—4.5%
- Nihonjinron written by social/cultural anthropologists—4.5%
- Nihonjinron written by historians and minzokugaku (folklore, 民俗学) scholars—4.5%
- Nihonjinron written by economists, political scientists, and legal scholars—4.5%
- Nihonjinron written by natural scientists—4.0%
- Nihonjinron written by linguists and literary scholars—3.5%
- Nihonjinron written by diplomats, social critics, and journalists—3.5%
- Nihonjinron written by psychologists—3.5%
- Nihonjinron written by foreign scholars—4.0%
- Nihonjinron written by foreign journalists—5.5%
- Nihonjinron written by other foreigners—7.0%
- Investigative reports:
- General theories on national characters—7.0%
- Surveys on desire and satisfaction—3.5%
- Attitude surveys on work ethics—4.0%
- Attitude surveys on saving—4.0%
- Other generic attitude surveys—6.5%
- Time-budget surveys—3.5%
- Survey on foreigners' view on Japanese economic activities—6.5%
- Overseas opinion researches on Japan—4.5%
Often cited, but rarely read, this work is now outdated. It is 'merely a sample' not a definitive list. It omits many works that otherwise qualify as nihonjinron (the works of Higuchi Kiyoyuki (樋口清之), for example). It states that 16.5% of post-war nihonjinron has been written by foreigners. Yet production of books on Japanese identity soon assumed an industrial scale in Japan, and Dale writes of the 'unflagging productivity of the genre.' Just one writer, the doyen of the genre, Watanabe Shōichi (渡部昇一), has hundreds of articles and volumes on Japanese culture, society, politics, history, and identity to his credit, all replete with judgments about 'the Japanese.' Foreign writing, with its stereotypes, is an important sub-genre of nihonjinron, and was particularly strong in Meiji Japan, where, as one observer wryly noted, 'not to have written a book about Japan is fast becoming a title to distinction.'
If nihonjinron as a genre cultivating public curiosity about national identity grew out of the ashes of defeat, it is nonetheless true that most of the key ideas, and many of the themes, predate the official use of these ideas for inculcating a national identity in the pre-war period. Significant areas of thought on identity fermented over the long centuries of seclusion under the Tokugawa regime. Peter Nosco speaks of a collective identity already conceptualized at this time, which fashioned a "new understanding of Japaneseness" in which:
- 'This world view represented an overarching perspective from which a broad range of persons across classes in Japan viewed both the macrocosm of the world beyond as well as the microcosm of one’s own immediate world.'
Thus, not only might the roots of the nihonjinron be traced back at least to the kokugaku (国学, lit. "national studies") movement of the 18th century, but reputable authorities on the intellectual history of that period recognize in the debates on the nation, its identity, and popular sentiment, themes that are not dissimilar to those we encounter in the post-war nihonjinron. In this sense, the recent view that the term "nihonjinron" should be restricted to refer to the literature on Japanese national identity post-1945 appears to be a technical quibble. Indeed, as Minami Hiroshi, one of the foremost scholars of the genre, states in his survey:
- 'It is also possible to trace back and locate works worthy of the name "nihonjinron" to the Edo period and even before that.'
All definitions of identity, national, social, ethnic or personal, use a comparative yardstick, be it explicit or implicit. National identity is typically associated with the early modern or modern nation, as one of the integrative elements of that nationalist ethos by which the disparate cultures of the pre-modern agricultural world are welded into a unified popular consciousness of patriotic belonging. Hiroshi points to pre-early-modern sources for the nihonjinron, but the argument cannot be pressed too far back, since ancient polities lacked the nation-wide mobilisation which is a precondition for this kind of discourse. Yet there seems no doubt that intense feelings for one's native country and its identity were an early part of Japanese literary culture, and a value given aesthetic expression. Robert Borgen studies just one example from the life of the monk Jōjin (成尋:1011-1081) and remarks:
- 'he helps us understand Japanese national identity in the eleventh century. His nationalism--and, problematic though it may be, that term will be used--was not of the bellicose sort, but rather seemed to reflect an accurate awareness of cultural and political differences combined with a sense of self-confidence.'
The kokugaku school itself did found its assertion of distinctive identity on a reading of the earliest classics of Japanese literature. One can hear an early echo of the problem of identity, for example, in the narrative of struggles between 'nativist' (Shintoist) and Sinophile factions at the dawn of Japanese history, as recounted in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki. Kokugaku scholars thus traced their ideas on identity to these earliest chronicles, which recount the revolt of the Mononobe (物部) and Nakatomi (中臣) clans against the foreign-descended Soga (蘇我) clan, which had sponsored the introduction of Buddhist metaphysics and Chinese statecraft into Japan in the sixth century C.E. Medieval Buddhism in turn developed original sectarian positions which show a vigorous inclination to ‘Japanify’ and propagate native versions of that universal faith, and the form this reaction takes shows a heightened awareness of a unique national mission and identity.
The echo takes on resounding depth in the work of the Buddhist monk Nichiren (日蓮, 1222-1282) whose Risshō Ankoku Ron (立正安國論: On Establishing Righteousness and Securing the Safety of the Nation: 1260), can be read as a brilliantly written foundational text for that vein of chiliastic populist nationalism which was to take the upper hand in the decade before 1945, in the heyday of Nihonshugi (Japanism: 日本主義).
In Nichiren's highly original thought, we find a dramatic reversal in Japan's dominant ideology of the state, with its aristocratic reliance on foreign models, be they Confucian or Buddhist. The variety of Buddhism he develops defines the doctrine in terms that are militantly patriotic, indeed, in terms which make his brand of Buddhism the creed par excellence of what had been a universal faith. At roughly the same time, Kitabatake Chikafusa(北畠親房, 1293-1354) wrote his Jinnō Shōtōki (神皇正統記: Chronicles of the Authentic Lineages of the Divine Emperors) which defines Japan's superiority in terms of the divinity of its imperial line and the divinity of the nation itself (Shinkoku: 神国). The general drift of such works is to pull the abstract, universal language and thought of Japan's foreign models down to earth, to reframe it in Japanese conditions, among the illiterate population at large, and assert the special historical characteristics of Japan as opposed to the civilizations which had, until that time, endowed the country with the lineaments of a universalist culture.
The comparative dimension of nihonron or discourse on the nation of Japan assumed seminal depth in the 16th.century, towards the end of the Sengoku period (戦国時代: Warring Countries Period) (1482-1558) and the subsequent Azuchi-Momoyama ((安土桃山) age (1568-1615), when European contacts with Japan gave rise to a considerable literature by travelers and foreign missionaries on the Japanese, their culture, behavior, and patterns of thinking. Though much of this belongs to the theatre of Orientalism, it influenced European perceptions over the two succeeding centuries during which Japan, apart from a small trading base at Deshima, remained closed to foreign commerce with the West. It also had some impact on Japanese self-images, when this material began to be read by many Japanese after the Meiji Restoration. The connivance between foreign images and Japanese self-perceptions thus boasts of a long history dating back some four centuries, and this tradition of cross-cultural discourse forms an important background component in the rise of the modern nihonjinron.
Kokugaku, beginning as a scholarly investigation into the philology of Japan's early classical literature, had suffered neglect at that time due to the powerful influence of Confucian orthodoxy, and sought to recover and evaluate these texts, some of which were obscure and difficult to read, in order to appraise them positively and harvest them to determine and ascertain what were the original indigenous values of Japan before the introduction of Chinese civilization. Thus the exploration of early classical texts like the Kojiki (古事記) and the Man'yōshū (万葉集) allowed scholars of Kokugaku, particularly the five great figures of Keichū (Japanese: 契沖, 1640-1701), Kada no Azumamaro (荷田春満, 1669-1736), Kamo no Mabuchi (賀茂真淵, 1697-1769), Motoori Norinaga (本居宣長, 1730-1801) and Hirata Atsutane (平田篤胤, 1776-1843) to explore Japan's cultural differences with China, locate their sources in high antiquity, and deploy the results in a programmatic attempt to define the uniqueness of Japan against a foreign civilization. These scholars worked independently, and reached different conclusions, but by the 19th century were grouped together by a neo-Kokugakuist named Konakamura to establish the earliness of Japanese self-awareness. Implicitly or otherwise, they advocated a return to these ostensibly pristine ethnic roots, which involved discarding the incrustations of those Chinese cultural beliefs, social rites and philosophical ideas that had exercised a political ascendancy for over a millennium within Japan and had deeply informed the neo-Confucian ideology of the Tokugawa regime itself.
The irony was that the intellectual techniques, textual methods and cultural strategies used by nativist scholars against Confucianism borrowed heavily from currents in both Chinese thought (Taoist, Confucian and Buddhist) and their Japanese offshoots. Motoori, the greatest nativist scholar, is deeply indebted, for instance, to the thought of Ogyū Sorai the most penetrating Confucian thinker of Tokugawa times. In similar wise, scholars detect in modern Japanese nationalism, of which the nihonjinron are the resonant if melodiously subdued, post-war echo, many features that derived from borrowings abroad, from the large resources of cultural nationalism mined in European countries during their own respective periods of nation-formation. Under the alias of assertions of difference, nationalisms, in Japan as elsewhere, borrow promiscuously from each other's conceptual hoards, and what may seem alien turns out often to be, once studied closely, merely an exotic variation on an all too familiar theme.
In the second half of the 19th century, under strong military and diplomatic pressure, and suffering from an internal crisis that led to the collapse of the Bakufu, Japan opened its ports, and subsequently the nation, to commerce with the outside world and reform that sought to respond vigorously to the challenges of modern industrial polities, as they were remarked on by Japanese observers in the United States and Europe. The preponderant place of China as model and cultural adversary in the cognitive models developed hitherto was occupied by the West. But, whereas Japan's traditional engagement with Chinese civilization was conducted in terms of a unilateral debate, now Japanese scholars and thinkers could read directly what Westerners, themselves fascinated by the 'exoticism' of Japanese culture, said and wrote of them. Japanese contact with, and responses to these emerging Western stereotypes, which reflected the superiority complex, condescension and imperial hauteur of the times, fed into Japanese debates on national identity. As Leslie Pincus puts it, speaking of a later phase:
- "one might say that Japanese travelers reappropriated Japan from Europe as an exoticized object. Just as ukiyoe were first reimported back into Japan from Paris museums and private European collections after World War 1, less tangible aspects of the cultural past were newly rediscovered by Japanese visitors in Europe. But whether material or etherial, the artifacts of Japanese culture had become indelibly inflected by Europe's fascination with, or depreciation of, one of its cultural others."
There ensued an intense period of massive social and economic change, as, under the direction of a developmental elite, Japan moved from the closed world of centuries of Tokugawa rule (the so-called sakoku [鎖国] period) to Meiji Westernization, and, again in close conformity with the prevailing occidental paradigm, to imperialist adventurism with the growth of the colonialism. The Taishō period marked a slightly more 'liberal' turn, as the pendulum swung towards a renewed interest in the Western model ("Japan must undergo a second birth, with America as its new mother and France as its father"). With the crisis of 1929 and the concomitant depression of the thirties, militarism gained the upper hand in this era of the 'dark valley' (kurai tanima, 暗い谷間), and nationalistic ideologies prevailed over all attempts to keep alive the moderate traditions of liberal modernity.
Total economic, military and spiritual mobilization could not stave off defeat however, and slowly, under occupation, and then rapidly with its reasserted independence, Japan enjoyed a decades-long resurgence as global industrial and economic powerhouse until the crisis of the 1990s. The cultural patterns over this century long trajectory is one of a continuous oscillation between models of pronounced Westernization and traditionalist autarky. Between the two alternatives, attempts were frequently made to mediate a conciliatory third way which would combine the best of both worlds (wakon yōsai, (和魂洋才): "Japanese spirit and Western techniques".
The frequency of these chronic transitional upheavals engendered a remarkable intensity of debate about national directions and identity (kokuminsei, 国民性/minzokusei, 民族性), whose complexity over time renders a synthetic judgment or bird's-eye view of the literature in question rather difficult. A major controversy surrounds the question regarding the affiliation of the post-war nihonjinron theories with the prewar conceptualization of Japanese cultural uniqueness. To what degree, that is, are these meditations under democracy on Japanese uniqueness innocent reflections of a popular search for identity, and in what measure, if any, do they pick up from the instrumental ideology of Japaneseness developed by government and nationalists in the prewar period to harness the energies of the nation towards industrialization and global imperium?
The questions are rendered more complex by the fact that in the early post-war period, the restoration of a 'healthy nationalism' was by no means something exclusive to right-wing cultural thinkers. An intense debate over the necessity to develop ideal, positive forms of national consciousness, regarded as a healthy civic identity, figures prominently in the early writings of Maruyama Masao, who called for a healthy "national civic consciousness" (kokuminshugi, 国民主義), and in the prolific debates of members of the Japanese Historical Science Association (rekiken, 歴研) who preferred to speak of 'ethnic national consciousness'(minzokushigi, 民族主義). These debates ranged from liberal center-left critics to radical Marxist historians.
Some scholars cite the destruction of many Japanese national symbols and the psychological blow of defeat at the end of World War II as one source of nihonjinron's enduring popularity, although it is not a uniquely 20th century phenomenon. In fact the genre is simply the Japanese reflex of cultural nationalism, which is a property of all modern nations. The trend of the tone of nihonjinron argument is often reflective of the Japanese society at the time. Peter Dale, covering the period analysed by the Nomura survey, distinguished three major phrases in the development of post-war nihonjinron discourse:
- First phase (1945-1960): Dominance of the Western model with a concomitant repudiation of Japanese specificity.
- Second phase (1960-1970): Recognition of historical relativity, of certain defects in Western industrial society, and certain merits in Japanese traditions, as they are re-engineered in Japanese modernization.
- Third phase (1970-?): Recognition of Japanese specificity as a positive model for a uniquely Japanese road towards modernity and its global outreach.
Tamotsu Aoki subsequently finessed the pattern by distinguishing four major phases in the post war identity discourse.
In Dale's proposal, this drift from negative uniqueness to positive evaluation of uniqueness is a cyclical trend, since he believes the same pattern can be detected in the literature on identity for the period from 1867 to 1945, from early Meiji times down to the end of World War Two. Nihonjinron, in Dale's view, recycle prewar Japanese nationalist rhetoric, and betray similar ends. For Aoki, contrariwise, they are natural movements in a national temper which seeks, as has been the case with other nations, its own distinctive path of cultural autonomy and social organization as Japan adapts itself to the global world order forged by the West.
During the early post-war period, most of nihonjinron discourses discussed the uniqueness of the Japanese in a rather negative, critical light. The elements of feudalism reminiscent of the Imperial Japan were all castigated as major obstacles to Japan's reestablishment as a new democratic nation. Scholars such as Hisao Ōtsuka (大塚久男), a Weberian sociologist, judged Japan with the measure of rational individualism and liberal democracy that were considered ideals in the U.S. and Western European nations back then. By the 1970s, however, with Japan enjoying a remarkable economic boom, Ōtsuka began to consider the 'feudal residues' in a positive light, as a badge of Japan's distinctive difference from the West (Ōtsuka, Kawashima, Doi 1976 passim). Nihonjinron books written during the period of high economic growth up to the bubble burst in the early 1990s, in contrast, argued various unique features of the Japanese as more positive features.
Specific theses of the Nihonjinron
- The Japanese race is a unique isolate, having no known affinities with any other race. In some versions, the race is understood as directly descended from a distinct branch of primates.
- This isolation is due to the peculiar circumstances of living in an island country (島国 shimaguni?) cut off from the promiscuous cross-currents of continental history, with its endless miscegenation of tribes and cultures. The island country in turn enjoys a sui generis climate (風土 fūdo?) whose peculiar rhythms, the putative fact for example that Japan alone has four distinct seasons (四季 shiki?), colour Japanese thinking and behavior. Thus, human nature in Japan is, peculiarly, an extension of nature itself.
- The Japanese language has thus a unique grammatical structure and native lexical corpus whose idiosyncratic syntax and connotations condition the Japanese to think in peculiar patterns unparalleled in other human languages. The Japanese language is also uniquely vague. Foreigners who speak it fluently therefore, may be correct in their usage, but the thinking behind it remains inalienably soaked in the alien framework of their original language's thought patterns. This is the Japanese version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, according to which grammar determines world-view.
- Japanese psychology, influenced by the language, is defined by a particular cast of dependency wishes or desires (甘え amae?) that conduce to a unique form of 'human relationship' (人間関係 ningen kankei?), in which clearly defined boundaries between self and other are ambiguous or fluid, leading to a psychomental and social ideal of the fusion of ego and alter (自他合一 jiga gōitsu?).
- Japanese social structures consistently remould human associations in terms of an archaic family or household model (家 ie?) characterized by vertical relations (縦社会 tate-shakai?), clan (氏 uji?), and (foster-)parent-child patterns (親分・子分 oyabun, kobun?). As a result, the individual (個人 kojin?) cannot properly exist, since groupism (集団主義 shūdan-shugi?) will always prevail.
Nihonjinron as cultural nationalism
Scholars such as Peter N. Dale (1986), Harumi Befu (1987), and Kosaku Yoshino (1992) view nihonjinron more critically, identifying it as a tool for enforcing social and political conformity. Dale, for example, characterizes nihonjinron as follows:
- "First, they implicitly assume that the Japanese constitute a culturally and socially homogeneous racial entity, whose essence is virtually unchanged from prehistoric times down to the present day. Secondly, they presuppose that the Japanese differ radically from all other known peoples. Thirdly, they are conspicuously nationalistic, displaying a conceptual and procedural hostility to any mode of analysis which might be seen to derive from external, non-Japanese sources. In a general sense then, nihonjinron may be defined as works of cultural nationalism concerned with ostensible 'uniqueness' of Japan in any aspect, and which are hostile to both individual experience and the notion of internal socio-historical diversity."
The emphasis on ingroup unity in nihonjinron writings, and its popularization during Japan's period of military expansion at the turn of the 20th century, has led many Western critics to brand it a form of ethnocentric nationalism. Karel van Wolferen echoes this assessment, noting that:
- In the nihonjinron perspective, Japanese limit their actions, do not claim 'rights' and always obey those placed above them, not because they have no other choice, but because it comes naturally to them. Japanese are portrayed as if born with a special quality of brain that makes them want to suppress their individual selves.
As Japan is often deemed to be "almost as unique as its people like to think" (Pearl Buck, qtd. In Dale 1986:26) so too the Japanese people are considered not just unique but, in the words of Sugimoto and Mouer, "more unique than other societies."
"Because of the unique properties of their language, the Japanese people have brain patterns that differ from those of most other people in the world." Whereas vowels and consonants are processed respectively in the right and left hemispheres of 'Western' brains, for example, it is argued by Tadanobu Tsunoda that the 'Japanese' brain processes both sounds in the left hemisphere. 
Technically Japanese climate can be viewed as marked rather by two seasons. The four seasons celebrated in the nihonjinron reflect a division inherited from canonical distinctions in Chinese poetry.
Some have argued that supposed aspects of Japanese culture widely reported in the West take on a life of their own as orientalist clichés long after the phenomena in question have disappeared from the socio-cultural landscape. Oscar Wilde said: "The actual people who live in Japan are not unlike the general run of English people; that is to say, they are extremely commonplace, and have nothing curious or extraordinary about them." (Wilde, Oscar, "The Decay of Lying, An Observation", 1899 )
- (Mouer & Sugimoto, Images of Japanese Society1986 p.87
- Peter Dale,The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness, 1986 p.16
- Basil Hall Chamberlain, Things Japanese|Japanese Things (1904)Tuttle ed.1971 p.64
- Nosco, Peter. "The Place of China in the Construction of Japan’s Early Modern World View" (PDF). Retrieved April 25, 2007.
- Minami Hiroshi,Nihonjinron no keifu,1980 p.3
- Borgen, Robert. "Japanese Nationalism: Ancient and Modern". Retrieved May 1, 2007.
- Peter Dale,'Nipponologies (Nihon-ron. Nihon-shugi)', 1994 p. 355
- Minamoto Ryōen, Tokugawa Shisō Shōshi, Chūkō Shinsho, Tokyo 1973 p.178, corrects the traditional figure of four great founders, which unjustly excluded Keichū}
- Susan L. Burns. Before the Nation. Duke University Press, 2003. p. 199.
- Leslie Pincus,Authenticating Culture in Imperial Japan University of California Press, 1996 p. 92
- Cf. Hirakawa Sukehiro (平川祐弘),Wakon Yōsai no keifu, Kawade Bungei Shinsho,1976 passim
- Curtis A Gayle,Marxist History and Postwar Japanese Nationalism 2003
- Dale,The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness, 1986 p. 213
- Aoki 1990 p. 29
- Sugimoto & Mouer,Images of Japanese Society 1986 pp. 70-71
- (1)Watanabe Shōichi, Nihongo no kokoro, Kōsansha Gendai Shinsho, Tokyo 1954.pp.11f (2) Oguma Eiji,Tan'itsu minzoku shinwa no kigen, Shin'yōsha, Tokyo 1995
- (1) Watsuji Tetsurō, Fūdo, Iwanami Shoten 1935 passim; (2)Dale,Myth of Japanese Uniqueness, ibid. pp.43f.
- Morimoto, Tetsurō (森本哲朗) Nihongo Omote to Ura (日本語表と裏) ("Japanese inside and outside") Shinchōsha Tokyo 1985
- (1)Suzuki Takao, Kotoba no ningengaku, Shinchō Bunko, Tokyo 1981.pp.109ff;(2) Itasaka Gen, Nihongo yokochō, Kōdansha Gakujutsu Bunko, Tokyo 1978 pp.69ff; (3)Kawashima Takeyoshi in Ōtsuka Hisao, Kawashima Takeyoshi, Doi Takeo, 'Amae’ to shakai kagaku, Kōbundō, Tokyo 1978 p.29
- Dale,Myth of Japanese Uniqueness, ibid. ch.7,8 pp.116-175, ch.12 pp.201ff.
- Dale,Myth of Japanese Uniqueness, ibid. ch.7 pp.100ff
- Shepherd, Gregory. "Music of Japan Today: Tradition and Innovation". Retrieved March 25, 2006.
- Caron, Bruce. "17 Nihonjinron". Retrieved March 25, 2006.
- Tominaga, Masatoshi. "Globalization and Japanese animation: Ethnography of American college students". Retrieved March 25, 2006.
Major Nihonjinron literature
- Kuki, Shūzō (九鬼周造). 1930. 「いき」の構造 English tr. An Essay on Japanese Taste: The Structure of 'Iki'. John Clark; Sydney, Power Publications, 1996.
- Watsuji, Tetsurō (和辻哲郞). 1935. Fûdo (風土). Tokyo, Iwanami Shoten. trans. Geoffrey Bownas, as Climate. Unesco 1962.
- Japanese Ministry of Education (文部省). 1937. 國體の本義 (Kokutai no hongi). tr. as Kokutai no hongi. Cardinal principles of the national entity of Japan, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1949.
- Nishida, Kitarō (西田幾多郞). 1940. 日本文化の問題 (Nihon Bunka no mondai). Tokyo.
- Benedict, Ruth. 1946. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture. Houghton Mifflin, Boston
- Herrigel, Eugen. 1948. Zen in der Kunst des Bogenschiessens, = 1953 Zen in the Art of Archery. New York, NY. Pantheon Books.
- Nakane, Chie (中根千枝). 1967. タテ社会の人間関係 (Human relations in a vertical society) English tr Japanese Society, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, UK, 1970.
- Mishima, Yukio (三島由紀夫). 1969. Bunka Bôeiron (文化防衛論, A Defense of Culture). Tokyo, Japan: Shinchôsha.
- Doi, Takeo (土居健郎). 1971. 「甘え」の構造 (The Structure of 'Amae'). Tokyo, Japan: Kôbundô. trans.The Anatomy of Dependence Kodansha, Tokyo 1974
- Singer, Kurt. 1973 Mirror, Sword and Jewel. Croom Helm, London
- Izaya Ben-Dasan, (‘translated’ by Yamamoto Shichihei:山本七平) 1972 Nihonkyō ni tsuite (日本教について), Tokyo, Bungei Shunjû
- Hisao, Ōtsuka, Takeyoshi, Kawashima, Takeo, Doi. 「Amae」to shakai kagaku.Tokyo, Kōbundō 1976
- Vogel, Ezra F. 1978. Japan As Number One: Lessons for America.. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.
- Reischauer, Edwin O. 1978. The Japanese. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.
- Tsunoda, Tadanobu (角田忠信). 1978. Nihonjin no Nō (日本人の脳―脳の働きと東西の文化, The Japanese brain). Tokyo, Japan: Taishūkan Shoten (大修館書店) ISBN 4-469-21068-4.
- Murakami, Yasusuke (村上泰亮), Kumon Shunpei (公文俊平), Satō Seizaburō (佐藤誠三郎). 1979. The 'Ie' Society as a Civilization (文明としてのイエ社会) Tokyo, Japan: Chūō Kōronsha.
- Berque, Augustin 1986. Le sauvage et l'artifice: Les Japonais devant la nature. Gallimard, Paris.
- Tamura Keiji (田村圭司) 2001. Futatabi 「Nihonjin」tare！ , (『再び「日本人」たれ！』) Takarajimasha Shinsho、Tokyo
- Takie Sugiyama Lebra 2004 The Japanese Self in Cultural Logic, University of Hawai’I Press, Honolulu
• Amino, Yoshihiko (網野善彦) 1993 Nihonron no shiza: Rettō no shakai to kokka (日本論の視座) Tokyo, Shôgakkan
• Amino, Yoshihiko (網野善彦). 1978 Muen, kugai, raku: Nihon chūsei no jiyū to heiwa (無縁・公界・楽. 日本中世の自由と平和:Muen, kugai, raku: Peace and freedom in medieval Japan), Tokyo, Heibonsha
• Aoki Tamotsu (青木保) Bunka no hiteisei 1988 (文化の否定性) Tokyo, Chūō Kōronsha
• Aoki, Tamotsu (青木保) 1990. 'Nihonbunkaron' no Hen'yō (「日本文化論」の変容, Phases of Theories of Japanese Culture in transition). Tokyo, Japan: Chūō Kōron Shinsha.
• Befu, Harumi (別府春海) 1987 Ideorogī toshite no nihonbunkaron (イデオロギーとしての日本人論, Nihonjinron as an ideology). Tokyo, Japan: Shisō no Kagakusha.
• Benedict, Ruth. 1946. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword : Patterns of Japanese Culture. Boston, Houghton Mifflin.
• Berque, Augustin. 1986 Le sauvage et l'artifice: Les Japonais devant la nature. Paris, Gallimard.
• Burns, Susan L., 2003 Before the Nation - Kokugaku and the Imagining of Community in Early Modern Japan, Duke University Press, Durham, London.
• Dale, Peter N. 1986. The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness Oxford, London. Nissan Institute, Croom Helm.
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- Community, Democracy, and Performance: Nihonjinron
- Gregory Shepherd: "Nihonjinron"
- Dissertation preview - Globalization and Japanese animation: Ethnography of American college students
- Maintaining Identities: Discourses of Homogeneity in a Rapidly Globalizing Japan, article by Chris Burgess in the electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies, 19 April 2004.
- Chrysanthemum’s Strange Life: Ruth Benedict in Postwar Japan article by Sonia Ryang on the role of The Chrysanthemum and the Sword in Nihonjinron
- Japan: Locked in the Self-assertive Discourse of National Uniqueness?