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Wearing Cultural Styles in Japan
Concepts of Tradition and Modernity in Practice
Wearing Cultural Styles in Japan
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Christopher S. Thompson - Editor
John W. Traphagan - Editor
Price: $70.00 
Hardcover - 228 pages
Release Date: April 2006
ISBN10: 0-7914-6697-3
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6697-1

Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 228 pages
Release Date: January 2007
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-6698-8

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Explores how tradition and modernity coexist in regional Japan, arguing that the rural/urban dichotomy is outmoded for understanding this contemporary society.

This groundbreaking collection examines the regional dynamics of state societies, looking at how people use the concepts of urban and rural, traditional and modern, and industrial and agricultural to define their existence and the experience of living in contemporary Japanese society. The book focuses on the Tohoku (Northeast) region, which many Japanese consider rural, agrarian, undeveloped economically, and the epitome of the traditional way of life. While this stereotype overstates the case—the region is home to one of Japan’s largest cities—most Japanese contrast Tohoku (everything traditional) with Tokyo (everything modern). However, the contributors show how various regional phenomena—internationalization, lacquerware production, farming, enka (modern Japanese ballads), women’s roles, and professional dance —combine the traditional, the modern, and the global. Wearing Cultural Styles in Japan demonstrates that while people use the dichotomies of urban/rural and traditional/modern in order to define their experiences, these categories are no longer useful in analyzing contemporary Japan.

“The variety of issues described and the wide range of locations portrayed contribute to the deconstructive potential of this volume in its attempts to dislocate dominant dichotomies often invoked in representations of the northeastern Tohoku region—and by extension other provincial areas—of Japan. This is the strength of the individual chapters and of the collection as a whole.” — Asian Anthropology

“A volume of essays by social scientists on a single region of Japan is in itself of great interest. We learn something about the Tohoku region but, more importantly, we learn what is, and is not, ‘Japan.’” — Pacific Affairs

“This interesting, creative, and informative book brings together anthropologists working on different parts of northern Japan around the topic of cultural styles. There is no other volume in the English language that achieves this focus.” — Akiko Hashimoto, author of The Gift of Generations: Japanese and American Perspectives on Aging and the Social Contract

Contributors include L. Keith Brown, William W. Kelly, John Mock, Debra J. Occhi, Anthony S. Rausch, Nancy R. Rosenberger, Christopher S. Thompson, John W. Traphagan, and Tomoko Watanabe Traphagan.

Christopher S. Thompson is Associate Professor of Linguistics at Ohio University. John W. Traphagan is Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Taming Oblivion: Aging Bodies and the Fear of Senility in Japan and the coeditor (with John Knight) of Demographic Change and the Family in Japan’s Aging Society, both published by SUNY Press.

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Table of Contents


Part I. The Political Economy of Social Change in Tohoku Japan

1. The Practice of Tradition and Modernity in Contemporary Japan
John W. Traphagan and Christopher S. Thompson

2.The Social Impact of Rural–Urban Shift: Some Akita Examples
John A. Mock

3. Rice Revolutions and Farm Families in Tohoku: Why Is Farming Culturally Central and Economically Marginal?
William W. Kelly

Part II. Wearing Tradition and Wearing Modernity: Negotiating Paths of Social Change

4. Young Women Making Lives in Northeast Japan
Nancy R. Rosenberger

5. Negotiating Internationalization in Kitasawa
Tomoko Watanabe Traphagan

6. Preserving the Ochiai Deer Dance: Tradition and Continuity in a Tohoku Hamlet
Christopher S. Thompson

7. Heartbreak’s Destination: Tohoku in the Poetic Discourse of Enka
Debra J. Occhi

8. Tradition and Modernity Merged in Tsugaru Nuri Lacquerware: Perspectives of Preservation and Promotion, Production and Consumption
Anthony S. Rausch

9. Epilogue: Tohoku: A Place
L. Keith Brown


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