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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