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Sunday, May 12, 2002


Staff writer
NIRA'S WORLD DIRECTORY OF THINK TANKS 2002, by the National Institute for Research Advancement, 2002, 508 pp., 10,000 yen (hardcover)

The World Directory of Think Tanks has been updated every three years by the Tokyo-based National Institute for Research Advancement since 1993. The latest edition gives detailed profiles of 320 public-policy research institutes in 77 countries and regions.

Information provided includes each institute's name in both English and its native language, location and contact information, area of research and geographic focus, funding sources, staffing, executive officers, chief researchers, research results, periodicals, library size, data resources, and affiliations with other organizations.

The think tanks are grouped by country or territory, which in turn are listed in alphabetical order. In addition, three appendixes provide alphabetical listings of all institutions by English name, by acronym and by native-language name.

FAMILY CRESTS OF JAPAN, by ICG Muse, Inc., 2001, 154 pp., 1,600 yen (paper)

As this comprehensive guide explains, the use of family crests, or "kamon," in Japan dates back to the 12th century, roughly the time coats of arms first appeared in Europe. Unlike their European counterpart, however, which first saw use in battle, kamon originally adorned the clothing, palanquins and ox carts of Japanese court nobles.

It wasn't until later in the Kamakura Period (late 12th century to mid-14th century) that warring clans began to employ kamon to distinguish their forces from that of the enemy. In the Nanbokucho Period (mid- to late 14th century), kamon began to increase in importance for samurai families, becoming a household symbol.

Although commoners were not formally permitted to use kamon until after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, in the Edo Period wealthier members of the merchant, artisan and peasant classes began to use family crests to decorate their jackets, lanterns and shops. Even actors, performers and prostitutes employed kamon as personal trademarks.

Family crests have lost their formal importance as household symbols in the postwar period with the rise of the nuclear family, but continue to be used widely as emblematic designs and for ceremonial occasions.

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