While no book is able to entirely encapsulate a culture, Yoshio Sugimoto's "An Introduction to Japanese Society" manages to showcase the ethnic and economical diversity alongside pop culture and "Friendly Authoritarianism," something that one can see every day in Japan. Scholarly in tone, this is a competent book for serious students of Japan, who want more than can be offered by "culture" books and such.
An impressively wide examination, each of the ten chapters examines a particular face of Japan. Economic class and stratification, varieties in work and labor, diversity and unity in education, minority groups and gender stratification, almost every possible angle is seen. Popular and folk culture are examined in detail, with the "Four Japanese Phenomena" described as manga, pachinko, karaoke and the sex industry. As someone who has spent considerable time in Japan, I can assure that these four areas have more impact on modern Japan than the tea ceremony and the Japanese garden!
Although it is packed with information, "An Introduction to Japanese Society" is also small enough as to not be intimidating. It is only an introduction, but it should be a gateway to those seeking insight into a fascinating culture.