The Japanese Family: Touch, Intimacy and Feeling, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Japanese Family

Touch, Intimacy and Feeling, 1st Edition

By Diana Adis Tahhan


166 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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This book explores how the relationship between child and parent develops in Japan, from the earliest point in a child’s life, through the transition from family to the wider world, first to playschools and then schools. It shows how touch and physical contact are important for engendering intimacy and feeling, and how intimacy and feeling continue even when physical contact lessens. It relates the position in Japan to theoretical writing, in both Japan and the West, on body, mind, intimacy and feeling, and compares the position in Japan to practices elsewhere. Overall, the book makes a significant contribution to the study of and theories on body practices, and to debates on the processes of socialisation in Japan.


'[The Japanese Family] provides a superb, empirically rich, addition to our understanding not only of this specific society but of intimacy and closeness as conceptual tools for analyzing human relations in general. In addition, it draws upon both Japanese sociologies of emotions and those produced in the English-using academic world to propose innovative ways of looking at this special character of relationships. In this rich and sophisticated ethnography Diana thus seeks to explore how the visceral touch between bodies is related to the other types of closeness transmitted not necessarily through actual bodily contact. […] Diana’s ethnography offers us a new way of looking at families and inter-personal relations, and at intimacy and feeling. Readers are invited into the special, at times magical, world of intimacy and closeness.'Eyal Ben-Ari, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Threaded through Tahhan’s book are understandings of relationality, intimacy, and connectedness as exclusively positive, equitable, and inclusive. Her book represents an ambitious project to examine the daily practices that constitute familial intimacy without continued physical contact between family members. - Kathryn E. GOLDFARB, McMaster University

Table of Contents

Foreword Eyal Ben-Ari Part 1 1. Introduction Part 2 2. Parent-child Touch: (Dis)Locating the Body in Skinship 3. Exclusion and Inclusion in the Bedroom Part 3 4. Moving into the Big, Wide World 5. Arriving to a Conceptual Understanding of Belonging Through the Felt Meanings of Touch 6. How Touch Feels after Five 7. Conclusion

About the Author

Diana Adis Tahhan is a Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

About the Series

Japan Anthropology Workshop Series

Editorial Board:
Pamela Asquith, University of Alberta
Eyal Ben Ari, Kinneret Academic College, Sea of Galilee, Israel

Hirochika Nakamaki, Suita City Museum, Japan
Christoph Brumann, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany

Henry Johnson, University of Otago, New Zealand

Founder Member of the Editorial Board:
Jan van Bremen, University of Leiden

Routledge is very proud to be publishing this important series, which has already signed up a good list of high quality books on interesting topics, and has a truly international range of authors and editors.

A key aim of the series is to present studies that offer a deep understanding of aspects of Japanese society and culture to offset the impression of constant change and frivolity that so tempts the mass media around the world.  Living in Japan brings anyone into contact with the fervent mood of change, and former residents from many other countries enjoy reading about their temporary home, but there is a demand also to penetrate less obvious elements of this temporary life.  Anthropologists specialise in digging beneath the surface, in peeling off and examining layers of cultural wrapping, and in gaining an understanding of language and communication that goes beyond formal presentation and informal frolicking.  This series will help to open the eyes of readers around the world from many backgrounds to the work of these diligent anthropologists researching the social life of Japan.

Submissions from prospective authors are welcomed, and enquiries should be sent in the first instance to the series editor Professor Joy Hendry ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies