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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #146: June 30, 2004

Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies

Journal Name: Japan Forum: The International Journal of Japanese Studies: July, 2004, Vol.16, No.2
Print ISSN: 0955-5803, Online ISSN:1469-932X


The detective novel's novelty: native and foreign narrative forms in Kuroiwa Ruikō's Kettō no hate (pp191 - 205)
Mark Silver (Connecticut College)
As a Meiji-period import, the detective novel makes a telling case study in the complexities of Japanese cultural borrowing. This article underlines the hybrid nature of one typical translated detective novel, Kuroiwa Ruikō's Kettō no hate (The consequences of a duel), which is an often loose rendering into Japanese of the French writer Fortuné Hippolyte Du Boisgobey's novel Suites d'un duel. On the one hand, the translation makes overt appeals to Meiji-period readers' hunger for the modern, the novel, and the foreign; on the other, it conspicuously recycles narrative conventions of the dokufu-mono, or 'poisonous woman story', a popular Meiji-period genre whose representations of alluring but ruthless silver-tongued female criminals had deep roots in the old, native tradition of gesaku, or 'frivolous writing'. This melding of the new and the old in Ruikō's translation suggests the necessity of revising our current models for understanding cultural borrowing, which rely too heavily upon the notions of straightforward Japanese imitation or, alternatively, of Western cultural dominance.

Keywords: Kuroiwa Ruiko, detective novel, gesaku, female criminals, dokufu, cross-cultural borrowing

The price of pulp: women, detective fiction, and the profession of writing in inter-war Japan (pp207 - 229)
Sari Kawana (University of Pennsylvania)
Are women seemingly absent from detective fiction in interwar Japan because it is a 'male' genre, or because male writers as gatekeepers of the genre conspired to exclude them? The absence of women from the genre is conspicuous given the significant presence of female readers. A close examination of the leading detective fiction magazines from the era reveals that male editors were spurred to seek out female authorship, and there indeed were some female detective writers who made the transition from consumer to producer. In light of such active recruitment by male colleagues, the relative inactivity of female writers after their arrival to the literary scene is even more mysterious. Some clues to this second mystery can be found in a larger investigation of the social and economic issues involved in the writing profession itself. This attempt to recover the lost female voice in detective fiction foregrounds the roles of consumer and producer in the publishing industry and elucidates the intertwined nature of gender, money, and the practice of writing.

Keywords: detective fiction, modern Japanese literature, popular literature, women's literature, social history, history of publishing

Nonami Asa's family mysteries: the novel as social commentary (pp231 - 248)
Eileen B. Mikals-Adachi (Ochanomizu University)
Nonami Asa's Freezing Fang (Kogoeru Kiba) is perhaps her most complex work to date. The dynamic female detective at the heart of this and other stories, Otomichi Takako, struggles not only with the case at hand, but also with the patriarchal structures of the police force and with attempts to retain her femininity. Otomichi's role goes beyond that of her Western counterparts, as she ventures to 'infiltrate another culture' (Klein 1988: 174). Through Otomichi, the author pushes off centre the whole male/female and public/private dichotomy and adds to the ongoing Japanese debate over the subjective division between pure (jun bungaku) and popular literature (taishū bungaku). This article examines, through a close reading of Nonami's text, how female writers of this detective literature genre deal with the categorization that essentially designates writing by women as secondary literature in Japan.

Keywords: Nonami Asa, Otomichi Takako, mystery fiction, male/female and public/private dichotomy

Woman uncovered: pornography and power in the detective fiction of Kirino Natsuo (pp249 - 269)
Rebecca Copeland (Washington University)
This article considers the way Kirino Natsuo's Tenshi ni misuterareta yoru (The night overlooked by angels, 1994) uses pornography to unsettle readers and, by so doing, to force a critical consideration of contemporary social structures as well as the gendering of the detective genre itself. At the story level, Kirino takes readers through the dark and dangerous world of the pornography industry, where women are exploited as objects of desire. But at a deeper level Kirino questions contemporary sexuality in Japan, interrogating the agency and authenticity of female desire. By deftly juxtaposing the marriage system alongside the pornography industry and by comparing heterosexuality with homosexuality, Kirino undermines the sacrosanct position of the Japanese family and questions the institutionalization of heterosexuality. Her attempts to stretch the boundaries of gender are replicated by her efforts to question the limits of the genre. Refusing to provide readers with the typical vicarious adventure, Kirino implicates us in the voyeuristic pleasure of the detective genre, by making us conscious of our act of watching.

Keywords: family system, gender, institutionalized heterosexuality, pornography, rape, voyeurism

There goes the neighbourhood: community and family in Miyabe Miyuki's Riyū (pp271 - 287)
Amanda Seaman (University of Massachusetts at Amherst)
Miyabe Miyuki, one of Japan's best-known and best-selling writers of detective fiction, has used the genre to critique contemporary Japanese society. In this paper, I examine one of Miyabe's central concerns: the transformation of Tokyo's urban environment and the effect that the development of luxury buildings in a blue-collar neighbourhood has on individual and community identity. In her 1992 novel Kasha, Miyabe chronicled the corrosive effects of consumerism on Japanese society, suggesting that a healthy individual existence depends on membership in close-knit familial units. Her subsequent novel, Riyū, shows how the very existence of such communities is threatened by the construction of a luxury high-rise apartment building in the Kita Senju neighbourhood of Tokyo. The family that the detective has created in Kasha stands in stark contrast to the rootless, single young victim and her killer, while in Riyū (1997), a family found murdered in a luxury high-rise turns out to comprise four individuals with little connection to one another. Ostensibly a 'true-crime' style of narrative about the murder of a family in the new development, Riyū is used by Miyabe to investigate and to meditate on kinship, family, and community, and therefore, serve to map the role of the identity in the formation of self and of place in the increasingly isolated and isolating world of contemporary Japan.

Keywords: Japan, mystery, Miyabe Miyuki, family, consumption, community

Japanese football and world sports: raising the global game in a local setting (pp289 - 313)
Wolfram Manzenreiter (Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Vienna)
Professional football in Japan, as elsewhere, has increasingly become linked to agents, structures, and processes of global capitalism. However, football is as much about culture as it is about business. Placing Japanese football into the context of world sports seems to be a promising endeavour to get fresh insight into the dialectics of the global and the local in transnational cultural flows and the processes underlying the globalization of sports. By analysing the institutional arrangements, vested interests, and power relationships of parties involved in the production, practice, and consumption of 'the people's game' in Japan, this study explores a recent showcase for the globalization of sports. It also addresses the question of whether the culture of sports may be considered a political agent that affects political choices, for example in regional development planning, local economic policy, or public health policy. As popular interests and domestic politics have shaped and continue to shape football in Japan, it is argued that globalization cannot be regarded as a commercially driven process aiming at the creation of a global market for products whose popular consumption leads to the standardization of cultures that were once distinctive.

Keywords: Japanese sport, football, globalization, media, regional development planning

Ossu! Sporting masculinities in a Japanese karate dōjō (pp315 - 335)
Kris Chapman (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)
By taking the ethnographic example of a Tokyo karate dōjō (training hall), this article explores the social construction of gendered identities in sporting contexts. Describing the masculine hegemony that prevails in the dōjō and more generally in sporting environments both within and beyond Japan, the extent to which masculine ideals are embedded in sporting culture is acknowledged and problematized. The 'naturalness' of male physical superiority is questioned through a physiological comparison of male and female sporting capabilities. Instead, it is suggested that masculine hegemony in sport is contingent rather than inherent; and the dialectic between hegemonic cultural constructions of masculinity and personal expressions of gendered performance forms the central analytical theme of this paper. More specifically, while showing the karate dōjō to be a male-dominated environment, it is argued that space for individual modes of participation in karate training is made possible through personal application of the idea of michi ('way'). Exploring the potential for the subversion of the traditional masculine hegemony through individual agency, I suggest the possibility for types of involvement in sports which, rather than being gender-free, are non-gender-specific and thus equally open to participants whatever their sex.

Keywords: masculinity, sport, karate, Japanese martial arts, gender

Japan Forum (2004)
Copyright ©2004 BAJS

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