2019 Reprint of the 1946 Edition by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. Noted American anthropologist Ruth Benedict wrote this book at the invitation of the U.S. Office of War Information, in order to understand and predict the behavior of the Japanese in World War II by reference to a series of contradictions in traditional culture. The book was influential in shaping American ideas about Japanese culture during the occupation of Japan and popularized the distinction between guilt cultures and shame cultures. Although it has received harsh criticism, the book has continued to be influential. The Japanese, Benedict wrote, are:
both aggressive and unaggressive, both militaristic and aesthetic, both insolent and polite, rigid and adaptable, submissive and resentful of being pushed around, loyal and treacherous, brave and timid, conservative and hospitable to new ways
The book also affected Japanese conceptions of themselves. It was translated into Japanese in 1948 and became a bestseller in the People's Republic of China when relations with Japan soured.