The Japanese archipelago — with more than one thousand islands in all — spans diverse living environments: snowy mountains in the northern island of Hokkaido; bustling cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka; tropical rice paddies in southern Kyushu. In the video segments below, Harvard University professors Theodore Bestor (anthropology) and Helen Hardacre (Japanese society and religion) describe the character of both urban and rural life in Japan.  
 
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· Tokyo · Volunteer Fire Departments · Neighborhood Associations
· Neighborhoods, Crime, and Police · Rural Life  
Although Japanese family roles have changed considerably in the 20th century, aspects of the traditional ie, or "continuing family," still remain. The Japanese have a saying that even if an extended family does not live together, parents and grandparents should live near enough to carry over a bowl of hot soup. In the video segments below, Harvard University professors Theodore Bestor (anthropology) and Helen Hardacre (Japanese society and religion) describe the enduring importance of traditional family values in Japan.  
 
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· The Modern Japanese Family · Traditional Family: Ie · Primogeniture
· Extra Children · Roles in the Family · The Mother-in-Law
· Contemporary Women · Care of the Elderly · Divorce
Much attention has been given to the rigor of the Japanese education system and workplace, both of which have certainly contributed to the country's economic and technological growth. Japanese are expected from a young age to work hard and succeed in a highly competitive environment. In the video segments below, Harvard University professors Theodore Bestor (anthropology) and Helen Hardacre (Japanese society and religion) explain the educational system and path to postgraduate employment in Japan.  
 
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· Role of the Mother · Competitive System · Levels of School
· Level of Skills · College and University Education · Tokyo University
· Men at Work · Women at Work · The Corporation
Japanese often think of themselves as a homogeneous society, with a strong sense of group and national identity and little or no ethnic or racial diversity. But such differences exist in Japan, as in all societies, as Harvard University professors Theodore Bestor (anthropology) and Helen Hardacre (Japanese society and religion) explain in the video segments below. Rather, what is perhaps most unique about Japanese society is its highly structured approach to managing and resolving these differences.  
 
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· Homogeneity · Ethnic Minorities · Hierarchy
· Groups: Inside/Outside · The Ie and Groups · Consensus
Nowhere in the world is popular culture more influential than in Japan. From Hello Kitty and Pokémon to anime (animation) and manga (comics), the culture of youth dominates Japanese media. In the video segments below, Harvard University anthropology professor Theodore Bestor explains what Japanese popular culture reveals about the society's history, religions, and national consciousness.  
 
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· Post WWII: Godzilla · Manga · Anime
· Global Influence · American Pop-Culture Retro-Boom · Portability
· Pokémon    
In addition to the traditional religions of Shinto and Buddhism, Japan is also home to more than 600 "new religions" (shinko shukyo), which incorporate Buddhist, Shinto, and Christian elements. In the video segments below, Harvard University professors Theodore Bestor (anthropology) and Helen Hardacre (Japanese society and religion) discuss the impact of religious values and traditions on Japanese life.  
 
Click to view video segments on the following topics, or click here to read a transcript of all eight segments.
· Multiple Religions and Affiliations · Shinto · Buddhism
· Christianity · New Religions · Old vs. New Religions
· Women and New Religions · Comparative Influence of Religion