If one has to apply cultural anthropology to any ethnic group, and the ultimate goal is plausibility, the choice cannot get any better than Japan. The country and its people lend so readily to stereotypes, that it almost feels like bullying to categorize them as Benedict does.
But of course, she is often right: even after almost 50 years, the observations, and predictions based on them, are still valid to many Japanese who are several generations younger than the those originally investigated. This goes to show how stubborn behavioral prototypes can be (One is also reminded how amazingly fresh most of 鲁迅's critique of our fellow Chinese still sound today, with 70 intervening years).
I picked up the book again, this day of the 60th Anniversary of WWII's end, with recurring news of Japan's lack of remorse and its re-emerging military presence echoing in my ears, and the spectacle of that rigid groove above 小泉's tightly closed lips, trembling with savage emotions. And I have been reminded again how fragile peace can be, and how, the otherwise unalarming quirks and eccentricities of a people, can be violently released to commit the worst possible crimes against other human beings.
However, Benedict is an anthropologist who's perhaps not particularly sensitive to asthetic sensations. That is a shame, for if she were so inclined, she would have noticed what beauty of details Japanese manage to fill their lives with. And then she would have found an even more fascinating subject of study: how does a people come to terms with the curious contradiction of such refinement, and such inhuman brutality.