Book

Above the Clouds

Takie Sugiyama Lebra

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 1993 | ISBN: 9780520076006
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520911796 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520076006.001.0001
Above the Clouds

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This book provides an ethnographic study of the modern Japanese aristocracy. Established as a class at the beginning of the Meiji period, the kazoku ranked directly below the emperor and his family. Officially dissolved in 1947, this group of social elites is still generally perceived as nobility. The author of this book gained entry into this tightly knit circle and conducted more than one hundred interviews with its members. The text weaves together a reconstructive ethnography from their life histories to create an intimate portrait of a remote and archaic world. As the book explores the culture of the kazoku, it places each subject in its historical context, and analyzes the evolution of status boundaries and the indispensable role played by outsiders. But the book is not simply about the elite, but about commoners and how each stratum mirrors the other. Revealing previously unobserved complexities in Japanese society, it also sheds light on the universal problem of social stratification.

Keywords: Japanese aristocracy; Meiji period; kazoku; nobility; elite; social stratification; Japan; Japanese emperor

Book.  430 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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Table of Contents

Ancestors in Above the Clouds

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Successors in Above the Clouds

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Life-style in Above the Clouds

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Marriage in Above the Clouds

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Socialization in Above the Clouds

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Status Careers in Above the Clouds

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Conclusion in Above the Clouds

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Epilogue in Above the Clouds

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