Modern Japan Through Its Weddings: Gender, Person, and Society in Ritual Portrayal
by Walter Edwards
Stanford University Press, 1989
Cloth: 978-0-8047-1512-6 | Paper: 978-0-8047-1815-8

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
Japanese weddings have become thoroughly commercial affairs, with the vast majority now conducted at specialized establishments that offer, at great cost, lavish services for the Shinto ceremony and the ensuring reception. The postwar expansion of the industry providing these services is explained in part by its aggressive promotion, by its promise of 'a story ceremony of love ... wrapped in the warm blessings of loved ones, in harmony and splendor'. This book focuses on Japanese weddings as a window on contemporary values, analyzing the relation between the commercialization of these services and their symbolic content. Weddings mark the attainment of fully adult status in Japan; the commercial industry celebrates this passage with idealized images of the marital state, images whose significance runs deep. To say what it means to be a model husband and wife engages more general ideas about relations between the sexes. To say what it means to be fully adult also of society, thereby touching on fundamental notions about society itself and the individual's place within it. The book begins with historical background on the Japanese wedding and the development of its modern form. We then follow the wedding couple and the events involving them and their parents through their engagement and marriage ceremony. The Japanese continue to distinguish between two types of marriage, the arranged and the love match, and the author examines differences in the two forms. As part of his research, the author worked for ten months in a commercial wedding hall, and he gives a backstage look at the roles played by various personnel in the wedding industry. The author analyzes the symbolic content of the wedding as portraying the basic Japanese concepts of gender, person, and society, and finally summarizes the effects of the wedding's commercialization.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
    Introduction
    1. The performance
    2. Background
    3. The actors
    4. The stage and its managers
    5. Imaging the marital ideal
    6. Gender, person, and society
    Conclusion
    Notes
    Index.
    
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