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Manners and Mischief

Manners and Mischief: Gender, Power, and Etiquette in Japan

Jan Bardsley
Laura Miller
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Manners and Mischief
    Book Description:

    Offering a concise, entertaining snapshot of Japanese society,Manners and Mischiefexamines etiquette guides, advice literature, and other such instruction for behavior from the early modern period to the present day and discovers how manners do in fact make the nation. Eleven accessibly written essays consider a spectrum of cases, from the geisha party to gay bar cool, executive grooming, and good manners for subway travel. Together, they show that etiquette is much more than fussy rules for behavior. In fact the idiom of manners, packaged in conduct literature, reveals much about gender and class difference, notions of national identity, the dynamics of subversion and conformity, and more. This richly detailed work reveals how manners give meaning to everyday life and extraordinary occasions, and how they can illuminate larger social and cultural transformations.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94949-2
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Jan Bardsley and Laura Miller
  5. Manners and Mischief: Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    One fine day a robust Japanese man with a boyish mop of hair, a colorful aloha shirt, and a grin of anticipation sits down at an ordinary lunch counter in Tokyo. He has come for a lesson in eating ramen noodles by a master who has studied the art for forty years. The elderly expert, elegant in his kimono, sits subdued next to him. He instructs the novice in each step of proper noodle consumption, from appreciating the aesthetic whole to attending to the meal’s superb particulars. He expresses affection to the pork slices with a fond, “See you soon!”...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Genji Guides, or Minding Murasaki
    (pp. 29-47)

    What is the proper way to read theTale of Genji(Genji monogatari), the greatest classic of Japanese literature, and who are its proper readers? We, modern seekers after the “truth” of literature, might chafe at being told how to correctly read a poem, or be wary of conduct manuals used to create disciplined social groups, but when confronted with the almost eight hundred poems larded into the famously allusive prose ofGenji monogatari, some kind of guide begins to seem welcome. The fifty-four-chapter bulk of the text has no doubt left many a student wondering whether it might not...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Box-Lunch Etiquette: Conduct Guides and Kabuki Onnagata
    (pp. 48-66)

    This epigraph is from Mishima Yukio’s short story “Onnagata,” which portrays one Sanogawa Mangiku, a fictitious contemporary kabuki actor allegedly modeled after anonnagatarenowned in Mishima’s time.²Onnagataare actors, usually male, specializing in women’s roles in the all-male kabuki theater.³ As the premieronnagataof his day, Mangiku is depicted as an actor of talent, beauty, and discipline, whose performances regularly win critical acclaim. And yet, rather than concentrating on the actor’s work onstage alone, the text emphasizes Mangiku’s way of eating lunch in his dressing roomin orderto illustrate that he is indeed a virtuoso actor....

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Perfect Woman: Geisha, Etiquette, and the World of Japanese Traditional Arts
    (pp. 67-79)

    In spite of the fact that the majority of geisha do not marry or bear children—something usually expected of good women in Japan—geisha are often cast as the epitome of woman on her best, most feminine Japanese behavior. Perpetually enrobed in kimono, posture and gestures restrained, and apparently at the dedicated service of their male customers, geisha seem to embody flawless female etiquette. They pour sake without dripping or drenching their long kimono sleeves, or without calling attention to the act. She instigates conversation only when needed. While these quiet, elegant, attentive geisha seem entirely to be at...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Mortification, Mockery, and Dissembling: Western Adventures in Japanese Etiquette
    (pp. 80-94)

    Japan has a reputation for ferociously unforgiving standards of etiquette. And it must be admitted that historically things have not always gone well for visitors. In 1556, for instance, a Portuguese explorer unwittingly became a laughing-stock at adaimyō’s party: “Then having caused a table to be covered for us, and on it placed store of good meat and well drest,” he reported with chagrin, “we fell to eating after our own manner, of all that was set before us, whilst the jests which the Ladies broke upon us, in seeing us feed so with our hands, gave more delight...

  10. CHAPTER 5 A Dinner Party Is Not a Revolution: Space, Gender, and Hierarchy in Meiji Japan
    (pp. 95-113)

    My title is a play on Mao Zedong’s dictum that a revolution is not a dinner party. In his 1927 “Report on an Investigation of the Hunan Peasant Movement,” Mao wrote that revolution “cannot be anything so refined, so calm and gentle, or so mild, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous” as inviting people to dinner, writing an essay, painting a picture, or doing fancy needlework. A revolution, he wrote, “is an act of violence whereby one class overthrows another.”¹

    In this essay, I borrow and invert Mao’s imagery to discuss international and gender relations in late nineteenth-century Japan. Whereas Mao...

  11. CHAPTER 6 The Oyaji Gets a Makeover: Guides for Japanese Salarymen in the New Millennium
    (pp. 114-135)

    “It is the age when men, too, must think of their appearance,” proclaims the Japanese men’s style guide. In 2008 a major Kyoto bookstore devotes two shelves to books on style and manners for men. Although this collection pales in comparison to the two bookcases devoted to similar books for women, it reveals a market niche for instruction on masculine comportment. Written by Japanese men, the three guides selected for discussion here target the reader as a salaryman (sarariiman), a white-collar company man. Although men work in diverse occupations in Japan and various forms of masculinity are alive in popular...

  12. CHAPTER 7 The Dignified Woman Who Loves to Be “Lovable”
    (pp. 136-155)

    In 2005 a book advocating nationalistic sentiments entitledThe Dignity of the Nationsoared to the top of the charts, becoming a millionvolume seller.¹ Creating a “dignity book” boom, its success prompted the publication of other volumes that featuredhinkaku(dignity) in their titles. Among these subsequent dignity books, however, only one has become a best-seller: Bandō Mariko’sThe Dignity of the Woman(2006), a collection of how-to tips on conduct, etiquette, and philosophy that is supposed to enable readers to realize the life of a “dignified woman.”²The Dignity of the Womanwas even more successful than the original...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Making and Marketing Mothers: Guides to Pregnancy in Modern Japan
    (pp. 156-177)

    Amid falling birthrates and talk of Japan as a “childless society” (shōshika), there has been a marked increase in the marketing of goods and services to pregnant women. Among the products in this “boom” are advice and how-to books and magazines for expectant mothers. To be sure, advice manuals, particularly pregnancy-advice manuals, are not unique to Japan. Moreover, the twenty-first century Japanese version of such manuals, with its full-folio pages, glossy paper, color photographs, and guides to trendy baby names, reflects only the latest stage in a history reaching back to the Tokugawa era (1603–1868). In this chapter, therefore,...

  14. CHAPTER 9 When Manners Are Not Enough: The Newspaper Advice Column and the “Etiquette” of Cultural Ideology in Contemporary Japan
    (pp. 178-195)

    There exists a plethora of published material on etiquette or conduct available in literally every bookstore in contemporary Japan. One may find etiquette guides for ceremonial occasions,¹ etiquette guides for women,² codes of conduct forsarariimanwork life,³ conduct codes for corporate life,⁴ and on and on. Representative titles include Shimizu’sEncyclopedia of Important Ceremonial Occasions [So You] Will Know Everything, Shiotsuki’sAdvanced Level Manner Lessons for Attractive Women, and Kawaki’sCollection of Men’s Fashion Techniques to Make Women Take a Second Look. And many messages about how people are supposed to act and, indeed, to be, are delivered in...

  15. CHAPTER 10 A Community of Manners: Advice Columns in Lesbian and Gay Magazines in Japan
    (pp. 196-218)

    This chapter sheds light on how Japanese sexual minorities, mainly lesbians and gays, create community principles through advice-giving in four magazines.AniseandCarmilla, for lesbians and bisexuals, andBádiandG-men, for gay men, are post-1990s commercial publications that provide a forum for the sharing of knowledge and experience in navigating sexual identities.¹ The four magazines featuresōdanshitsu(advice column) sections of varying scales and quality, spaces where readers seek advice for various issues—both sexual and social. These advice columns assume an imagined community where sexual minorities live, interact, exchange, and negotiate their everyday lives. By building a...

  16. CHAPTER 11 Behavior That Offends: Comics and Other Images of Incivility
    (pp. 219-250)

    The eye-catching “Manners Posters” began appearing in April 2008. Placed along the corridors and near the ticket dispensers and gates of the Tokyo Metro, a new poster was pasted up every month for several consecutive months. The theme was “Do it somewhere else.” The most common admonishment found on five of the posters wasuchi de yarō(“Why don’t you do it at home!”), targeting those who irritate other passengers by splaying themselves over the seats, putting on makeup, speaking loudly on cell phones, cranking up iPods so loudly that others can hear, and engaging in drunken behavior.¹ The posters...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-268)
  18. Contributors
    (pp. 269-272)
  19. Index
    (pp. 273-284)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-286)