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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments

In the West, the Japanese house has reached iconic status in its architecture, decoration and style. Is this neat, carefully constructed version of Japanese life in fact a myth?  Inge Daniels goes behind the doors of real Japanese homes to find out how highly private domestic lives are lived in Japan. The book examines every aspect of the home and daily life-from decoration, display, furniture and the tatami mat, to eating, sleeping, gift-giving, recycling and worship.  For students and researchers in anthropology and architecture, The Japanese House re-evaluates contemporary Japanese life through an ethnographic lens, examining key topics of consumption, domesticity and the family. Highly illustrated throughout, the book will appeal to all who those are interested Japanese culture, and in how and why people live the way they do in modern Japan. 


‘This impressive study of the modern Japanese home takes the reader into the domestic worlds of middle-class men and women, showing how aesthetic practices are shaped by national ideologies regarding gender and the family, as well as by a sense of the past encountering the transformative energies of modernization.’ David Morgan, Duke University

About the Author

Inge Maria Daniels is Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.

Table of Contents

‘We have ‘a son in a boxMale domestic stereotypes: ‘Japanese fathers have no holidays’Do-it-Yourself Conclusion: Gender stereotypes SPREAD 5: Alcoves half full or half empty?   Chapter 5  STUFF AND STORAGE The ideology of tidinessStorehouse living: circulation and accumulationStorage strategies: 1. expanding the home  2.’living among one’s furniture’ Furniture wallsDowries and provisioning The contemporary starter home Life cycle rupture points: ‘if I had a house like a castle, I would take everything’Conclusion: Conduits and containersSPREAD 6: Women and their kimono SPREAD 7: Destroying and rebuilding the family home   Chapter 6  TROUBLESOME THINGS Domestic disarray?Souvenir Cabinets: objects frozen in time and spaceTroublesome ThingsCommemorative gifts and unique relationshipsEphemeral gifts and the renewal of relationshipsSurplus, divestment and informal socialityConclusion: pressures and constraints of gift cultureSPREAD 8: The Dolls FestivalSPREAD 9: Bazaars and flea markets  Chapter 7  THE LOCUS OF SPIRITUAL IN THE DOMESTIC The house-building ceremony The domestic cycle of ‘annual events’ God shelves and auspiciousnessThe temporality of luckAffective and material bonds with the ancestorsA son’s duty of care? Inter-generational tensionsNew family models Conclusion: Causality and self-determination SPREAD 10: Religion as action   Chapter 8  CONCLUSION Notes Bibliography Index

Product Details

Trade Paperback
Publication date:
Series info:
Materializing Culture (Paperback)
Number of Units:
Inge Daniels
Inge Maria Daniels
Daniel Miller
Paul Gilroy
Architecture-Asia and Oceania


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