The First European Description of Japan, 1585: A Critical English-Language Edition of Striking Contrasts in the Customs of Europe and Japan by Luis Frois, S.J.

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Routledge, Mar 14, 2014 - Social Science - 312 pages

In 1585, at the height of Jesuit missionary activity in Japan, which was begun by Francis Xavier in 1549, Luis Frois, a long-time missionary in Japan, drafted the earliest systematic comparison of Western and Japanese cultures. This book constitutes the first critical English-language edition of the 1585 work, the original of which was discovered in the Royal Academy of History in Madrid after the Second World War. The book provides a translation of the text, which is not a continuous narrative, but rather more than 600 distichs or brief couplets on subjects such as gender, child rearing, religion, medicine, eating, horses, writing, ships and seafaring, architecture, and music and drama. In addition, the book includes a substantive introduction and other editorial material to explain the background and also to make comparisons with present-day Japanese life. Overall, the book represents an important primary source for understanding a particularly challenging period of history and its connection to contemporary Europe and Japan.



Critical introduction
Jesus Mary
1 Concerning men their persons and their clothing
2 Women their persons and customs
3 Concerning children and their customs
4 Concerning the bonzes and their customs
5 Concerning Buddhist temples images and things pertaining to the practice of their religion
6 The Japanese way of eating and drinking
9 Diseases doctors and medicines
10 Japanese writing and their books paper ink and letters
11 Houses construction gardens and fruits
12 Ships seafaring and dogus
13 Japanese plays farces dances singing and musical instruments
14 Various and extraordinary things that do not fit neatly in the preceding chapters
References cited

7 Japanese offensive and defensive weapons and warfare
8 Concerning horses

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About the author (2014)

Luis Frois S.J. was a long-time Jesuit missionary in Japan in the later years of the sixteenth century.

Daniel T. Reff is an anthropologist and Professor in the Department of Comparative Studies in the Humanities, The Ohio State University, USA

Richard Danford is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Vice-President for Diversity and Inclusion at Marietta College, Ohio, USA

Robin Gill is a freelance translator, author and editor, USA

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