"Some Japanese stories end violently. Others never end at all, but only cut away, at the moment of extreme crisis, to a butterfly, or the wind, or the moon."-Brian Phillips
Visitors from the West look with amazement, and sometimes concern, at Japan's monolithic social structures and unique, complex culture industry; the gigantic scale of its tech corporations and the resilience of its traditions; the extraordinary diversity of the subcultures that flourish in its "post-human" megacities. The country nonetheless remains an impossibly complicated jigsaw puzzle whose overall design eludes us. Its inscrutability has made the country an inexhaustible source of inspiration for stories, reflections, and reportage. The subjects in this volume range from the Japanese veneration of the dead to the Tokyo music scene, from urban alienation to cinema, from sumo to machismo. Caught between an ageing population and extreme post-modernity, immobile yet futuristic, Japan is an ideal observation point from which to understand our age and the one to come.