In This Review

The Rules of Play: National Identity and the Shaping of Japanese Leisure
The Rules of Play: National Identity and the Shaping of Japanese Leisure
By David Richard Leheny
Cornell University Press, 2003, 208 pp
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It is common knowledge that the Japanese are workaholics, but few people are aware that the Japanese government has put substantial effort and resources into advancing the quality of its people's leisure time. The government has reacted not just to the image of the Japanese as compulsive workers, but also to the more sophisticated idea that leisure practices determine the lifestyle of a people. The government's theory is that leisure is basic in defining national identity and that if Japan is to catch up with the West, it needs a more modern national lifestyle. As a result, the Japanese political leadership sought to get the public to abandon traditional leisure practices and adopt more Westernized ones. Leheny is an authority on tourism, and hence considerable attention is given to the government's attempts to establish modern tourist attractions in Japan and to encourage the Japanese to use their leisure time to travel abroad so that foreigners will perceive the Japanese as modern people.