JAPAN: Pain in the Nekku

In the Tokugawa Era, which began in 1600, Japan withdrew into its shell like a frightened hermit crab. Feudalism was established; foreigners were driven from the country or tossed from mountaintops; Japanese were forbidden to leave Japan. This period, in many ways Japan's greatest and in many ways the shape of things-to-come in 20th-century Europe, ended in 1853 with the arrival of Commodore Perry. The Japanese people, who are by nature the world's cleverest imitators, entered into a new era of imitation of all things foreign.

In the last year Japan has begun again to withdraw into its...

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