Paraverse home page   Reviews here Errata. here!    Sample Pages are here    And the Index, here!


611 ways Europeans and Japanese are contrary

a full translation, explication and essay of Luis Frois's famous treatise (Tratado)
robin d. gill


A full English translation of a 1585 treatise (in Portuguese) first revealed to the world in 1955 by Josef Franz Schutte, S.J., an evaluation of the correctness of Frois's contrasts at the time (1585) and their validity today (including discoveries that “solved” contrasts hitherto misunderstood), further expanded to include contrasts Frois left out (so the total is more like 1000, rather than 611!) and explicated so as to bring out the ideas and, dare I say, metaphysics which anyone who liked Barthes’ Empire of Signs, but wished for a bit more, will be love!


In 1585, Luis Frois,  a 53 year old Jesuit who spent all of his adult life in Japan listed 611(!) ways Europeans and Japanese were contrary to one another.   Robin D. Gill, a 53 year old writer who spent most of his adulthood in Japan, translates these topsy-turvy claims – we sniff the top of our melons to see if they are ripe / they sniff the bottom of theirs  (10% of the book), examines their validity (20% of the book), and plays with them (70% of the book).   Readers with the intellectual horsepower to enjoy ideas will be grateful for pages discussing things like the significance of black and white clothing or large eyes vs. small ones, while others who seek quirky facts will be delighted to find, say, that the women in Kyoto were known to urinate standing up, or Japanese horses had their stale gathered by long-handled ladles, etc., and serious students of history and comparative culture will gain a better understanding of the nature of radical difference (exotic, by definition) and its relationship with Valignano S.J.'s admirable new policy of Accommodation, the first official experiment in cultural relativity on the part of European Christians.

1.  Comparative Culture – Europe vs. Japan
2.  Japan – Culture – 1500-1600 (Momoyama+Muromachi)
3.  Europe – Culture – 1500-1600 (Renaissance+Reformation) 
4.  Identity – Collective – Europe/Japan(+China)
5.  History – Jesuit – Accommodation Policy in Japan
6.  Orientalism – Occidentalism (and contrary mores)
7.  Nonfiction – Literature –  Translation+Essay
8. Men, Women, Children, Religion,   Food & Drink, Weapons, Horses, Medicine, Writing, Architecture, Gardens, Boats, Entertainment . .
9.  Luis Frois’s “Tratado em que se contem . . .” (1585)
10.  Luis Frois (Luís Fróis) S.J. (1532-1597)

There are 14 chapters, following Frois’s original, a 50 pg Foreword on the History of Topsy-turvyism and a Midword  on how China relates to this. No room remained for an index for 740 pages was the limit for my printer,  but there is an item-by-item Table of Content supplement.  Find a sample of just one chapter, Ch. XIV = Diverse Things that did not fit in the other chapters, below. (Sorry for the waste of space, the billgates' html insists on it unless i fix every damn line.)


NOTE: There is now a SHORT VERSION of Topsy-turvy 1585 available, too. 


14-1  Flint, striking hand, r or l

14-2  Emotion vs. no emotion

14-3  Fire fighting

14-4  Lying

14-5  Killing people at home

14-6  Killing men vs. animals

14-7  Execution for stealing

14-8  Killing substitutes for killing

14-9  Crucifixion

14-10  Punishment of servants

14-11  Prisons and punishment

14-12  Stolen goods

14-13  Fear of the dark

14-14  Fear of snakes

14-15  Sneezing

14-16  Coins vs. scrap by weight

14-17  Balances vs. Scales

14-17/18  Coins with holes

14-18  Coins, face-value vs. choice

14-19  Coins as gift

14-20  Honorifics by noun vs. verb

14-21  Washing hands for dogu

14-22  Boar-hunting

14-23  Fly-killing!

14-24  Monkeys

14-25  Counting by hand vs. abacus

14-26   Present-giving, number of.

14-27  Present, giving medicine?

14-28  Present, brought by guest

14-29  Present enjoyed by guest

14-30  Embracing

14-31  Ball play, hand vs. foot

14-32  On wall or just ground?

14-33  Mills and horse-power

14-34  Socializing, town vs. house

14-35  Smiles

14-36  Clear vs. ambiguous Lang.+

14-37  Wearing pelts

14-38  Crowns

14-39  Board games

14-40  Hawk and falcon hoods

14-41  Turnip washing, hands/feet

14-42   Sack material

14-43  Warming hands in fire

14-44  Message giving posture

14-45  Posture while speaking

14-46  Towels for head & feet!

14-47  Nostril-cleaning fingers!

14-48  Courtesy-exchanging face

14-49  Wine keg storage=

14-50  Pelt coloring

14-51  Bamboo usages

14-52  Present package adornment

14-53  Rose-water vs. wine on face

14-54  Sweetmeat and drinks

14-55  Bouquet vs. single flowers

14-56  Incense quantity

14-57  Passionate vs. restrained

14-58 Treatment of woman in refuge

14-59  Apologies

14-60  Hoe blades

14-61  Flutes

14-62  Hair of Servants and Horses

14-63  Grapes and Figs

14-64  Visiting Servant’s Houses

14-65  Servants in Master’s clothing

All the Contents of the 740 page book are searchable at Amazon, though they may harass you for your name and password (why they do it sometimes and not always is beyond me!).  Beware that the conversion software or optical scanning hardware Amazon used to display the book and make it searchable had problems with the small print of the notes causing many strange spellings ...  rdg