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.
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.
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Concerning men their persons and their clothing
Women their persons and customs
Concerning children and their customs
Concerning the bonzes and their customs
Concerning Buddhist temples images and things pertaining to the practice of their religion
The Japanese way of eating and drinking
Diseases doctors and medicines
Japanese writing and their books paper ink and letters
Houses construction gardens and fruits
Ships seafaring and dogus
Japanese plays farces dances singing and musical instruments
Various and extraordinary things that do not fit neatly in the preceding chapters
Japanese offensive and defensive weapons and warfare