A number of critically acclaimed Japanese literary works call attention to the evolving position of the single, independent woman within the twenty-first-century family unit and, by extension, society as a whole. Kawakami Hiromi's Strange Weather in Tokyo (Sensei no kaban 2001), Shibasaki Tomoka's Spring Garden (Haru no niwa, 2014), and Murata Sayaka's Convenience Store Woman (Konbini ningen, 2016) stand out in this regard. Key issues raised in the novels revolve around relations between an unmarried, adult daughter in her mid-to-late thirties and her parent(s)—issues that encompass assumptions regarding that daughter's role as her parents' future caregiver, especially in light of Japan's rapidly aging population. The novels also call attention to Tokyo as a place of possibility, where even women with relatively modest incomes can make their own life choices. The characters—Kawakami's Ōmachi Tsukiko, Shibasaki's Nishi, and Murata's Furukura Keiko—fluidly come together to offer new ways of understanding the continuing resistance by Japanese women to conventional expectations of marriage and childbearing that by the 1970s had already grown into an identifiable movement.


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pp. 57-77
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