The Japanese House : Material Culture in the Modern Home book cover
1st Edition

The Japanese House
Material Culture in the Modern Home

ISBN 9781845205171
Published August 31, 2010 by Routledge
320 Pages

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Book Description

In the West the Japanese house has reached iconic status in its architecture, decoration and style. Is this neat, carefully constructed version of Japanese life in fact a myth? Inge Daniels goes behind the doors of real Japanese homes to find out how highly private domestic lives are lived in Japan. The book examines every aspect of the home and daily life-from decoration, display, furniture and the tatami mat, to eating, sleeping, gift-giving, recycling and worship. For students and researchers in anthropology and architecture, The Japanese House re-evaluates contemporary Japanese life through an ethnographic lens, examining key topics of consumption, domesticity and the family. Highly illustrated throughout, the book will appeal to all those who are interested in Japanese culture, and in how and why people live the way they do in modern Japan.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION SPREAD 1: Map with locations and images of exteriors of the homes studied Chapter 2 HOMES INSIDE OUT Gates, fences and walls 'We would rather have a nice English garden' 'Everyone needs a garage' Between the window and the hallway Red buckets and neighbourhood cooperation Local communities of limited liability Conclusion: The inside out SPREAD 2: Street gardens; green fences and terracotta walls SPREAD 3: Wifely duties and neighbourhood surveillance Chapter 3 FEELING AT HOME 'The pleasures of a happy home' From tatami to chair-based living The postwar 'LDK home': 1. The sofa and dining table 2. Double beds 'Bathing is my way to relax' Tatami mats 'A space to relax' Conclusion: Affectionate ties SPREAD 4: The choreography of domestic slippers Chapter 4 TATAMI TASTES Male domestic taste and sophistication Full-time and part-time housewives A national domestic taste? Eclectic alcoves 'New is better': traditional and modern aesthetics Male minimal design The exception: a modern aesthetic scheme 'We have "a son in a box'' ' Male domestic stereotypes: 'Japanese fathers have no holidays'Do-it-Yourself Conclusion: Gender stereotypes SPREAD 5: Alcoves half full or half empty? Chapter 5 STUFF AND STORAGE The ideology of tidiness Storehouse living: circulation and accumulation Storage strategies: 1. Expanding the home 2. 'Living among one's furniture' Furniture walls Dowries and provisioning The contemporary starter home Life cycle rupture points: 'if I had a house like a castle, I would take everything'Conclusion: Conduits and containers SPREAD 6: Women and their kimono SPREAD 7: Destroying and rebuilding the family home Chapter 6 TROUBLESOME THINGS Domestic disarray? Souvenir Cabinets: objects frozen in time and space Troublesome Things Commemorative gifts and unique relationships Ephemeral gifts and the renewal of relationships Surplus, divestment and informal sociality Conclusion: pressures and constraints of gift culture SPREAD 8: The Dolls Festival SPREAD 9: Bazaars and flea markets Chapter 7 THE LOCUS OF SPIRITUAL IN THE DOMESTIC The house-building ceremony The domestic cycle of 'annual events' God shelves and auspiciousness The temporality of luck Affective and material bonds with the ancestors A son's duty of care? Inter-generational tensions New family models Conclusion: Causality and self-determination SPREAD 10: Religion as action Chapter 8 CONCLUSION Notes Bibliography Index

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Inge Daniels is Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.


"This impressive study of the modern Japanese home takes the reader into the domestic worlds of middle-class men and women, showing how aesthetic practices are shaped by national ideologies regarding gender and the family, as well as by a sense of the past encountering the transformative energies of modernization. - David Morgan, Duke University Should be widely read and loudly applauded. - Design and Culture This is an absolutely fascinating book - well written, superbly researched inside Japanese homes and written with passion. Without a doubt the best book I have read on modern Japan. - Brighton & Hove Anglo Japanese Network This book should be read by all those interested in researching the meaning of home, whether they have an interest in Japan or not. Likewise, for specialists on Japanese society, this text will transform perceptions of the house and home as a focus for broader cultural understandings. - Housing Studies There are many more conclusions to be drawn from the rich materials presented and I recommend this book to everyone with an interest in Japan, material culture, architecture, and visual methods. Furthermore, it is a prime example of what ethnography can achieve (and living quality surveys etc. cannot). - Home Cultures Daniels investigates how highly private domestic lives are lived in Japan. Examining the living quarters of the Japanese, she looks into every aspect of the home and daily life, from decoration, display, furniture and the tatami mat to eating, sleeping, gift-giving, recycling and worship. - Times Higher Education"