This book challenges the received view of Japanese society as ethnically homogeneous. Employing a wide array of arguments and evidence - historical and comparative, interviews and observations, high literature and popular culture - it recasts modern Japan as a thoroughly multiethnic society.
This work casts light on a wide range of minority groups in modern Japanese society, including the Ainu, Burakumin (descendants of premodern outcasts), Chinese, Koreans, and Okinawans. In so doing, it depicts the trajectory of modern Japanese identity.
Surprisingly, it argues that the belief in a monoethnic Japan is a post–World War II phenomenon, and it explores the formation of the monoethnic ideology. It also makes a general argument about the nature of national identity, delving into the mechanisms of social classification, signification, and identification.