1st Edition

An Anthropologist in Japan Glimpses of Life in the Field

By Joy Hendry Copyright 1999
    184 Pages
    by Routledge

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    In this highly personal account Joy Hendry relates her experiences of fieldwork in a Japanese town and reveals a fascinating cross-section of Japanese life. She sets out on a study of politeness but a variety of unpredictable events including a volcanic eruption, a suicide and her son's involvement with the family of a poweful local gangster, begin to alter the direction of her research. The book demonstrates the role of chance in the acquisition of anthropological knowledge and demonstrates how moments of insight can be embedded in everyday activity. An Anthropologist in Japan illuminates the education system, religious beliefs, politics, the family and the neighbourhood in modern Japan.

    PART I Settling in and making contacts 1 Arrival…and an invitation 2 The neighbourhood: a ‘world of blossom and willow’ 3 The hospital…and a strange encounter 4 The school…and a fight 5 A pilgrims’ trail 6 Shiroyama, the Satomi legend and a new look at power PART II Events to attend 7 Wrapping the body: two local festivals 8 The housewives’ ‘Club for Life’ 9 Cubs, sports and a shock 10 Suicide, funerals and the well-wrapped gift 11 Paper walls and flowers at the bank PART III The role of experts 12 A foreigner at the ‘Culture Festival’ 13 ‘Your Japanese is psychological torture’ 14 A volcanic eruption 15 Tennis and the ‘surreal’ dinner 16 Concerts, cakes and spiritual communication PART IV Building a framework for analysis 17 New Year: shrine, mochi and a tea ceremony 18 Valentine’s Day, and the 6th years pick on Hamish 19 The gang-leader’s wife 20 Unwrapping the argument 21 An artistic farewell


    Joy Hendry is Professor of Social Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University. She has published numerous books and articles on Japan, including Wrapping Culture (1993), Understanding Japanese Society (Routledge, 1993) and Interpreting Japanese Society (ed.) (Routledge, 1998).

    'Well written, and captivating to the end ... fascinating book.' - Anthropos, 95

    'Highly recommendable to diverse categories of readers. It is precisely suitable as a classroom text in anthropology, social science, communication, and Japan studies ... not only educational but entertaining.' - Journal of Japanese Studies