• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

In this volume, Gudykunst applies his world-renowned approach to intercultural communication to the specifics of Japanese//North American communication. After laying out the basic theories of intercultural communication, the authors explain the similarities and differences in patterns of communication in Japan and the United States. They then demonstrate how an understanding of these contrasting patterns can help Japanese and North Americans communicate more effectively. By examining issues such as attitudes and stereotypes, ways to deepen the understanding of Japanese behaviour are suggested. Also discussed are the factors that influence motivation, knowledge and skills to increase communication effectiveness.


Prior to the Meiji Restoration, the Tokugawa Shoguns placed severe restrictions on contact between Japanese and gaijin (foreigners). Japanese who left Japan were forbidden from returning under penalty of death. There were, however, many contacts between Japanese and the outside world before Commodore Perry “opened” Japan to outside contact in 1853. Frequently ships sailing off the coast of Japan were caught in storms, and many were carried across the Pacific to North America. Japanese on these ships had contact with people in the United States, including Abraham Lincoln (Plummer, 1992). Many of these encounters were plagued by misunderstandings.

When Commodore Perry arrived in Japan, his sailors found the Japanese to be “the most polite people on earth” (cited by Dulles, 1965). Perry himself, however, reported ...

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