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In Lovesick Japan, Mark D. West explores an official vision of love, sex, and marriage in contemporary Japan. A comprehensive body of evidence-2,700 court opinions-describes a society characterized by a presupposed absence of physical and emotional intimacy, affection, and personal connections. In compelling, poignant, and sometimes horrifying court cases, West finds that Japanese judges frequently opine on whether a person is in love, what other emotions a person is feeling, and whether those emotions are appropriate for the situation.
Sometimes judges' views about love, sex, and marriage emerge from their presentation of the facts of cases. Among the recurring elements are abortions forced by men, compensated dating, late-life divorces, termination fees to end affairs, sexless couples, Valentine's Day heartbreak, "soapland" bath-brothels, and home-wrecking hostesses.
Sometimes the judges' analysis, decisions, and commentary are as revealing as the facts. Sex in the cases is a choice among private "normal" sex, which is male-dominated, conservative, dispassionate, or nonexistent; commercial sex, which caters to every fetish but is said to lead to rape, murder, and general social depravity; and a hybrid of the two, which commodifies private sexual relationships. Marriage is contractual; judges express the ideal of love in marriage and proclaim its importance, but virtually no one in the court cases achieves it. Love usually appears as a tragic, overwhelming emotion associated with jealousy, suffering, heartache, and death.
The Senzaimaru and the Creation of Modern Sino-Japanese Relations
After centuries of virtual isolation, during which time international sea travel was forbidden outside of Japan’s immediate fishing shores, Japanese shogunal authorities in 1862 made the unprecedented decision to launch an official delegation to China by sea. Concerned by the fast-changing global environment, they had witnessed the ever-increasing number of incursions into Asia by European powers—not the least of which was Commodore Perry’s arrival in Japan in 1853–54 and the forced opening of a handful of Japanese ports at the end of the decade. The Japanese reasoned that it was only a matter of time before they too encountered the same unfortunate fate as China; their hope was to learn from the Chinese experience and to keep foreign powers at bay. They dispatched the Senzaimaru to Shanghai with the purpose of investigating contemporary conditions of trade and diplomacy in the international city. Japanese from varied domains, as well as shogunal officials, Nagasaki merchants, and an assortment of deck hands, made the voyage along with a British crew, spending a total of ten weeks observing and interacting with the Chinese and with a handful of Westerners. Roughly a dozen Japanese narratives of the voyage were produced at the time, recounting personal impressions and experiences in Shanghai. The Japanese emissaries had the distinct advantage of being able to communicate with their Chinese hosts by means of the "brush conversation" (written exchanges in literary Chinese). For their part, the Chinese authorities also created a paper trail of reports and memorials concerning the Japanese visitors, which worked its way up and down the bureaucratic chain of command.
This was the first official meeting of Chinese and Japanese in several centuries. Although the Chinese authorities agreed to few of the Japanese requests for trade relations and a consulate, nine years later China and Japan would sign the first bilateral treaty of amity in their history, a completely equal treaty. East Asia—and the diplomatic and trade relations between the region’s two major players in the modern era—would never be the same.
Ethics and the State in Meiji Japan
This innovative study of ethics in Meiji Japan (1868–1912) explores the intense struggle to define a common morality for the emerging nation-state. In the Social Darwinist atmosphere of the time, the Japanese state sought to quell uprisings and overcome social disruptions so as to produce national unity and defend its sovereignty against Western encroachment. Morality became a crucial means to attain these aims. Moral prescriptions for re-ordering the population came from all segments of society, including Buddhist, Christian, and Confucian apologists; literary figures and artists; advocates of natural rights; anarchists; and women defending nontraditional gender roles. Each envisioned a unity grounded in its own moral perspective. It was in this tumultuous atmosphere that the academic discipline of ethics (rinrigaku) emerged—not as a value-neutral, objective form of inquiry as its practitioners claimed, but a state-sponsored program with its own agenda.
After examining the broad moral space of "civilization," Richard Reitan turns to the dominant moral theories of early Meiji and the underlying epistemology that shaped and authorized them. He considers the fluidity of moral subjectivity (the constantly shifting nature of norms to which we are subject and how we apprehend, resist, or practice them) by juxtaposing rinrigaku texts with moral writings by religious apologists. By the beginning of the 1890s, moral philosophers in Japan were moving away from the empiricism and utilitarianism of the prior decade and beginning to place "spirit" at the center of ethical inquiry. This shift is explored through the works of two thinkers, Inoue Tetsujiro (1856–1944) and Nakashima Rikizo (1858–1918), the first chair of ethics at Tokyo Imperial University. Finally, Reitan takes a detailed look at the national morality movement (kokumin dotoku) and its close association with the state before concluding with an outline of some conceptual linkages between the Meiji and later periods.
With its highly original thesis, clear and sound methodology, and fluid prose, Making a Moral Society will be welcomed by scholars and students of both Japanese intellectual history and ethics in general.
Faubion Bowers and Theatre Censorship in Occupied Japan
As part of its program to promote democracy in Japan after World War II, the American Occupation, headed by General Douglas MacArthur, undertook to enforce rigid censorship policies aimed at eliminating all traces of feudal thought in media and entertainment, including kabuki. Faubion Bowers (1917-1999), who served as personal aide and interpreter to MacArthur during the Occupation, was appalled by the censorship policies and anticipated the extinction of a great theatrical art. He used his position in the Occupation administration and his knowledge of Japanese theatre in his tireless campaign to save kabuki. Largely through Bowers's efforts, censorship of kabuki had for the most part been eliminated by the time he left Japan in 1948. Although Bowers is at the center of the story, this lively and skillfully adapted translation from the original Japanese treats a critical period in the long history of kabuki as it was affected by a single individual who had a commanding influence over it. It offers fascinating and little-known details about Occupation censorship politics and kabuki performance while providing yet another perspective on the history of an enduring Japanese art form.
The Tale of Genji and Its Predecessors
Literary critiques of Murasaki Shikibu's eleventh-century The Tale of Genji have often focused on the amorous adventures of its eponymous hero. In this paradigm-shifting analysis of the Genji and other mid-Heian literature, Doris G. Bargen emphasizes the thematic importance of Japan's complex polygynous kinship system as the domain within which courtship occurs. Heian courtship, conducted mainly to form secondary marriages, was driven by power struggles of succession among lineages that focused on achieving the highest position possible at court. Thus interpreting courtship in light of genealogies is essential for comprehending the politics of interpersonal behavior in many of these texts. Bargen focuses on the genealogical maze—the literal and figurative space through which several generations of men and women in the Genji moved. She demonstrates that courtship politics sought to control kinship by strengthening genealogical lines, while secret affairs and illicit offspring produced genealogical uncertainty that could be dealt with only by reconnecting dissociated lineages or ignoring or even terminating them. The work examines in detail the literary construction of a courtship practice known as kaimami, or "looking through a gap in the fence," in pre-Genji tales and diaries, and Sei Shōnagon's famous Pillow Book. In Murasaki Shikibu's Genji, courtship takes on multigenerational complexity and is often used as a political strategy to vindicate injustices, counteract sexual transgressions, or resist the pressure of imperial succession. Bargen argues persuasively that a woman observed by a man was not wholly deprived of agency: She could choose how much to reveal or conceal as she peeked through shutters, from behind partitions, fans, and kimono sleeves, or through narrow carriage windows. That mid-Heian authors showed courtship in its innumerable forms as being influenced by the spatial considerations of the Heian capital and its environs and by the architectural details of the residences within which aristocratic women were sequestered adds a fascinating topographical dimension to courtship. In Mapping Courtship and Kinship in Classical Japan readers both familiar with and new to The Tale of Genji and its predecessors will be introduced to a wholly new interpretive lens through which to view these classic texts. In addition, the book includes charts that trace Genji characters' lineages, maps and diagrams that plot the movements of courtiers as they make their way through the capital and beyond, and color reproductions of paintings that capture the drama of courtship.
Distance Racing and Civic Culture
Japanese have been fervid long-distance runners for many centuries. Today, on a per capita basis, at least as many Japanese residents complete marathons each year as do those in the United States or any other country. Marathon Japan traces the development of distance racing beginning with the Stockholm Olympics of 1912, when the Japanese government used athletics as part of its project to win the respect of Western countries and achieve parity with the world powers. The marathon soon became the first Western- derived sports event in which Japanese proved consistently superior to athletes from other countries. During the 1920s and 1930s, Japanese runners regularly produced the fastest times in the world, and in the 1960s and late 1970s–1980s, Japanese men again dominated world marathoning. Japanese women likewise emerged as some of the world’s fastest in the 1990s and early 2000s. Meanwhile the general public took up distance running with enthusiasm, starting in the 1960s and continuing unabated today, symbolized most recently by massive open-entry marathons in Tokyo, Osaka, and other Japanese cities comparable in scale and challenge to major world races in Boston, New York, Chicago, London, and Berlin.
In this book, Thomas Havens analyzes the origins, development, and significance of Japan’s excellence in marathons and long-distance relays (ekiden), as well as the explosive growth of distance racing among ordinary citizens. He reveals the key role of commercial media companies in promoting sports, especially marathons and ekiden, and explains how running became a consumer commodity beginning in the 1970s as Japanese society matured into an age of capitalist affluence. What comes to light as well are the relentlessly nationalistic goals underlying government policies toward sports throughout the modern era. The public craze for distance racing, both watching and running, has created a shared citizenship of civic participation among young and old, male and female, and persons of every social background and level of education.
Marathon Japan will appeal to Japan specialists of cultural and social history, recreational runners in Japan and abroad, as well as anyone interested in the history of sports.
Japan is one of the most media-saturated societies in the world. The circulations of its "big five" national newspapers dwarf those of any major American newspaper. Its public service broadcasting agency, NHK, is second only to the BBC in size. And it has a full range of commercial television stations, high-brow and low-brow magazines, and a large anti-mainstream media and mini-media. Japanese elites rate the mass media as the most influential group in Japanese society. But what role do they play in political life? Whose interests do the media serve? Are the media mainly servants of the state, or are they watchdogs on behalf of the public? And what effects do the media have on the political beliefs and behavior of ordinary Japanese people? These questions are the focus of this collection of essays by leading political scientists, sociologists, social psychologists, and journalists. Japan's unique kisha (press) club system, its powerful media business organizations, the uses of the media by Japan's wily bureaucrats, and the role of the media in everything from political scandals to shaping public opinion, are among the many subjects of this insightful and provocative book.
The Moneylenders of Late Medieval Kyoto examines the large community of sake brewer-moneylenders in Japan's capital city, focusing on their rise to prominence from the mid-1300s to 1550. Their guild tie to overlords, notably the great monastery Enryakuji, was forged early in the medieval period, giving them a protected monopoly and allowing them to flourish. Demand for credit was strong in medieval Kyoto, and brewers profitably recirculated capital for loans. As the medieval period progressed, the brewer-lenders came into their own. While maintaining overlord ties, they engaged in activities that brought them into close contact with every segment of Kyoto's population. The more socially prominent brewers served as tax agents for religious institutions, the shogunate, and the imperial court, and were actively involved in a range of cultural pursuits including tea and linked verse. Although the merchants themselves left only the faintest record, Suzanne Gay has fully and convincingly depicted this important group of medieval commoners.