Japanese Women, Class and the Tea Ceremony

The voices of tea practitioners in northern Japan

By Kaeko Chiba

© 2011 – Routledge

218 pages | 18 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415837927
pub: 2013-01-29
Hardback: 9780415557153
pub: 2010-07-22

About the Book

This book examines the complex relationship between class and gender dynamics among tea ceremony (chado) practitioners in Japan. Focusing on practitioners in a provincial city, Akita, the book surveys the rigid, hierarchical chado system at grass roots level. Making critical use of Bourdieu’s idea of cultural capital, it explores the various meanings of chado for Akita women and argues that chado has a cultural, economic, social and symbolic value and is used as a tool to improve gender and class equality. Chado practitioners focus on tea procedure and related aspects of chado such as architecture, flower arranging, gardening and pottery. Initially, only men were admitted to chado; women were admitted in the Meiji period (1868-1912) and now represent the majority of practitioners. The author - a chado practitioner and descendant of chado teachers - provides a thorough, honest account of Akita women based on extensive participant observation and interviews. Where most literature on Japan focuses on metropolitan centres such as Kitakyushu and Tokyo, this book is original in both its subject and scope. Also, as economic differences between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas have become more pronounced, it is timely to explore the specific class and gender issues affecting non-metropolitan women. This book contributes not only to the ethnographic literature on chado and non-metropolitan women in Japan, but also to the debates on research methodology and the theoretical discussion of class.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Identity work 3 Time, space and the experience of chadō 4. Bourdieu’s theory of capital and discourses on class 5. Gender 6. Class 7. Raison d’être

About the Author

Kaeko Chiba is a postdoctoral fellow of the Center for Regional Sustainability Initiatives, Akita International University, and holds an associate professor (Jyun-Kyojyu) certificate from the Urasenke tea school in 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 (jhendry@brookes.ac.uk).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Customs & Traditions
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies