Above the Clouds
Status Culture of the Modern Japanese Nobility
Publication Year: 1993
As Lebra explores the culture of the kazoku, she places each subject in its historical context. She analyzes the evolution of status boundaries and the indispensable role played by outsiders.
But this book is not simply about the elite. It is also about commoners and how each stratum mirrors the other. Revealing previously unobserved complexities in Japanese society, it also sheds light on the universal problem of social stratification.
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Tables
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List of Illustrations
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Orthographic Note on Japanese Words
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Japanese names appear with the family name first, unless the authors ofcited publications identify themselves using English name order. Japanesewords are italicized only on their first appearance. A compound nounmay be rendered as separate words (e.g., bekkaku kanpeisha), as one word(kobugattai), or hyphenated (ikan-sokutai), to signify different degrees...
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In the long years taken up by this study, I have come into debt to count-less people. Foremost, I am grateful to the former aristocrats and thosearound them who allowed me to share their experiences as an interviewer,guest, or semiparticipant observer of their rituals and other activities.Without their willing cooperation this project could not have been...
1. Studying the Aristocracy: Why, What, and How?
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...n May 15, 1947, some two hundred titled noblemen gathered in theimperial palace to hear words of farewell from His Majesty, who in theprevious year had already renounced his "divine" status and assumed ahuman role. Twelve days before, the new constitution had come intoeffect, designed to ensure universal equality under the law. The tides and...
2. Creating the Modern Nobility: The Historical Legacy
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...he basic structure of the nobility under study came into formal exis-tence in 1884 as the result of an imperial ordinance called the kazokurei.1The embryo had taken shape fifteen years before, which calls us back toThe Meiji Restoration, launched in 1868, was a turmoil of sociopolit-ical events and transitions. When the Tokugawa shogunate, which had...
3. Ancestors: Constructing Inherited Charisma
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...:mbers of the hereditary elite, by definition, owe their status to theirancestors. Kazoku life histories are indeed shaped by the weight of ances-tors, which is still felt in one way or another. It is fitting, therefore, tobegin our analysis with images of ancestors held by descendants. By link-ing the living generation to bygone generations, this chapter exhibits the...
4. Successors: Immortalizing the Ancestors
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...ncestor worshippers in Japan mention as a major reason for their devo-tion the debt they owe their forebears for their very existence. Certainlythey would not have come to life without their ancestors, but neitherwould the ancestors have continued to exist without descendants. Essen-tial to the ancestor cult is the interdependence of ascending and de-...
5. Life-Style: Markers of Status and Hierarchy
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...timing away from the last two chapters' focus on death, the deceased,and ancestors, this chapter looks into the routine life of the latest gen-erations that still "live" in the memories of informants. In contrast toour interest thus far on the time depth of ancestor-successor relations,let us now orient ourselves to the spatial breadth of life conditions. The...
6. Marriage: Realignment of Women and Men
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...n discussing ancestors and successors in chapters 3 and 4, we took indi-vidual households as units of analysis, and emphasis was on the linealcontinuity of each household. While marriage, too, could be seen in thesame light as instrumental to the production of legitimate successors tothe house, this chapter examines matrimony more as a realignment...
7. Socialization: Acquisition and Transmission of Status Culture
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...he kazoku status, to be hereditary, had to have its culture carried onby successive generations. Chapters 3-6 conveyed what that status cul-ture was like; this chapter will consider how it was acquired by or trans-mitted to kazoku members, with a main, but not exclusive, focus on thechild. To the extent that "what" cannot be separated from "how," some...
8. Status Careers: Privilege and Liability
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...e have examined how kazoku children were reared and trained in thehome, boarding houses, and schools; let us now take up their adultcareers. In so doing, we will be more in touch with the public realm,which so far has been treated largely as the ground for private, domesticlife. By placing kazoku in the public arena, and by paying attention to...
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...lo conclude this ethnographic journey, I will attempt to pull togethersalient features of the hereditary status and hierarchy that have appearedand reappeared across the preceding chapters. In the introduction weencountered a series of oppositional concepts presented for interpreta-tional purposes; here these oppositions will be useful again for drawing...
Epilogue: The End of Shōwa
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...i^mperor Showa's terminal illness and eventual demise on January 7,1989, threw Japan into a state of shock, as judged from the media cov-erage of the widespread jishuku (voluntary abstinence from festivity andentertainment) and prayer and mourning. Thereafter, open debatesabout the emperor and the imperial institution as a whole ensued, and...
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...1. The royal wedding of Prince and Princess Kitashirakawa Nagahisa in 1935.The couple is wearing traditional court dress; bride in junihitoe, groom in ikan-sokutai. Princess Sachiko, a daughter of a Tokugawa branch family, is the chieflady-in-waiting upon Empress Dowager Nagako, the widow of Emperor Showa.The princess was widowed in 1940. (Photo courtesy of Kitashirakawa Sachiko)...
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Page Count: 430
Publication Year: 1993