1st Edition

Young Women in Japan Transitions to Adulthood

By Kaori H. Okano Copyright 2009
    308 Pages
    by Routledge

    320 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Young Women in Japan: Transitions to adulthood received a CHOICE "Outstanding Academic Title of the Year 2010" award from the American Library Association.

    This book examines young women in Japan, focusing in particular on their transitions to adulthood, their conceptions of adulthood and relations with Japanese society more generally. Drawing on detailed primary research including a year-long observation of high schools and subsequent interviews over a 12 year period, it traces the experiences of a group of working class women from their last year of high-schooling in 1989 through to 2001 as they approached their thirties. It considers important aspects of the transition to adulthood including employment, marriage, divorce, childbirth and custody. It shows how the role and identities of young women changed over the course of the 1990s, exploring the impact of changes within Japanese society and global forces, and explains fully the implications for ordinary young people and their everyday lives. It considers to what extent young women’s perceptions of themselves and society are shifting, and how far this can be explained by external constraints and their own experiences and decisions.

    1. Introduction  2. Transitions to Adulthood  Part 1  3. A Longitudinal Ethnography  4. Portraits of Selected Women  Part 2  5. Initial Entry into the Wider Adult World  6. Paid Employment: From Permanent to Non-Standard Jobs  7. Forming Relationships  8. Marriage and Divorce in their 20s  9. Decisions and their Consequences in Paths to Adulthood: Seeking ‘Comfort’ (Igokochi).  Conclusions


    Kaori H. Okano is Associate Professor/Reader in the School of Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Australia. Her publications include Education in contemporary Japan: Diversity and inequality (1999, with M. Tsuchiya), School to work transition in Japan: An ethnographic study (1993), and various articles in leading scholarly journals.

    'Okano, a Japanese scholar transplanted to Australia, has conducted a long-range study of a cohort of working-class young women originally from Kobe, extracting the specific and exemplary stories of eight of them. Her intriguing study, divided into two parts ("life stories" and "themes"), is remarkably accessible and appealing on a number of levels. In recounting the eight subjects' life stories over a 12-year period, Okano (Latrobe Univ.) makes each of them come so vividly alive that the book will be highly usable and appealing even to undergraduates or neophyte readers. The range of "transitions" is remarkably wide, from transcendence to failure, giving the strong impression of general coverage of a whole category from this small sample. As an interviewer, the author is compassionate, forthright, nonjudgmental, kindly, and altogether appealing. Her analytic second part continues to reference the eight individuals in detail, thus taking what could have been a ponderous assessment and welding it into an accessible and altogether delightful book that is simultaneously rigorous and analytical while reading as charmingly as a novel. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic levels/libraries.' - R. B. Lyman Jr., emeritus, Simmons College, CHOICE, February 2010