Japan : A Short Cultural History
Genre: Japanese History
Author: George Sansom (1931)
review in one breath
While the number of good academic texts on Japanese history is innumerable, here is one I picked up a decade ago in Ikebukuro and haven't stopped consulting since. The chronological scope of this book ranges from the Kojiki myths to the end of the Tokugawa Era. As the title suggests, Sansom focuses primarily upon cultural rather than purely political/economic developments (though these are included). Thus herein the focus is upon the development and evolution of literature, art, religion and philosophy.
As a primer to pre-Meiji Japanese culture, I can wholly recommend this valuable book.