Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xi

The lifeline of ethnographic research is the generosity and trust of a handful of individuals willing to share their time and their stories with a curious stranger. In particular, the twelve older individuals at the core of my interview group have been and remain a source of encouragement and inspiration, without which this...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-6

The mid-July air hung, heavy and lazy, in the low bowl of the Kyoto Basin. The heat had forced a slowness on the city, but fortunately, I was nearing the end of fieldwork, and after a year and a half of interviewing older men and women about aging in Japan, I felt that I could use a break. I pedaled my bicycle through...

Part I. Loss

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1. Loss, Abandonment, and Aesthetics

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pp. 9-34

When I returned to Kyoto in 2013, I stepped into one of the small cafés where I often met with older men and women when I began my research eight years earlier. The proprietress, Tachibana-san, her long silver hair pulled back with a flower patterned bandana, inquired about my research as she prepared a warm...

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2. The Weight of Loss: Experiencing Aging and Grief

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pp. 35-62

When I first read Atsumori Zeami’s (1363–1443) Noh drama Obasute (ca. early fifteenth century), I tried to imagine watching it as it must have been first performed, the ethereal movements of the actors, gliding across the stage silently to the otherworldly intonations of the storyteller musicians. Zeami is considered...

Part II. Mourning

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3. Landscapes of Mourning: Constructing Nature and Kinship

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pp. 65-89

Loss always seems to haunt narratives of care. Obasuteyama brought my attention to not only the ways feelings of loss in old age motivate religious behaviors, but also how these religious behaviors could then feedback into how loss was experienced. In the landscape of these circulating aesthetic images, objects, and practices...

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4. Temporalities of Loss: Transience and Yielding

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pp. 90-109

While there are many studies of global aging have been designed to capture longitudinal changes, few have consisted of sustained ethnographic accounts.1 Although many anthropologists make a point to return to their field sites over years and decades, having made friendships and even established family ties with...

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5. Passing It On: Circulating Aging Narratives

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pp. 110-130

Narratives are continuously shifting toward the aging subject; just as they seem coherent, some ordinary disruption cracks the surface. Psychological anthropologist Byron Good (2012) has argued that investigating subjectivity requires acknowledging the haunting that erupts through these cracks, that reveals in...

Part III. Abandonment and Care

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6. Aesthetics of Failed Subjectivity

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pp. 133-158

In the last chapter, I began to delve further into what I have called the “economy of care” in order to better situate the ethnographic narratives of aging, loss, and dependence in contemporary Japan introduced in the first half of the book. In this chapter I look at how economies of care can collapse into forms of social...

Part IV: Hope

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7. Care and Recognition: Encountering the Other World

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pp. 161-184

In the last chapter, I referred to “Japanese-style welfare” as an ideology of “care through abandonment,” in which obligations and resources of care are distributed among state, community, family, and the older persons themselves, creating both an array of possible dependencies as well as ways to fall through the...

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8. The Heart of Aging: An Afterword

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pp. 185-192

About two weeks before I was to return to the United States after a second fieldwork stay in Kyoto, I went to visit Fujii-san, the woman who managed the temple inn that served as my first lodging in Kyoto. As I walked to the door of the inn, a small present of Japanese cakes in hand, the overcast sky spread a muted light...

Notes

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pp. 193-200

Bibliography

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pp. 201-222

Index

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pp. 223-230

About the Author

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pp. 231-232