Community Volunteers in Japan

Everyday stories of social change

By Lynne Nakano

Foreword by Joy Hendry

© 2004 – Routledge

192 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415546065
pub: 2009-08-14
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415323161
pub: 2004-09-30
US Dollars$178.00

About the Book

Volunteering is a recent and highly visible phenomenon in Japan, adopted as a meaningful social activity by millions of Japanese and covered widely in the Japanese media. This book, based on extensive original research, tells the stories of community volunteers who make social change through their everyday acts. It discusses their experiences in children's activities, the parent-teachers association, juvenile delinquency prevention campaigns, and care of the elderly. It explores their conflicts and their motivations, and argues that personal decisions to volunteer and acts of volunteering, besides being personal choices, are productive of larger discussions of the needs and directions of Japanese society.


'Community Volunteers in Japan is an interesting study that raises important questions about life in contemporary societies. It deserves a thoughtful reading by those wishing to better understand Japan.' - Asian Anthropology

Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1: The Volunteers 1. The Life and Death of a Volunteer 2. Life Choices 3. Civic Leaders Part 2: The Programs 4. Cultivating Children 5. Preventing Juvenile Delinquency 6. Helping Others Conclusion

About the Author

Lynne Y. Nakano is an Associate Professor in the Department of Japanese Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. An anthropologist by training, her main areas of research include self-identity, gender, mass media and popular cultre. She is currently researching gender issues in Hong Kong and Japan.

About the Series

Japan Anthropology Workshop Series

Editorial Board:
Pamela Asquith, University of Alberta
Eyal Ben Ari, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hirochika Nakamaki, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka

Kirsten Refsing, University of Copenhagen
Wendy Smith, Monash University

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 (

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings: