Perpetual Dependency

Sakurai Yuki

in Recreating Japanese Men

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267374
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950320 | DOI:
Perpetual Dependency

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In early modern Japan the process of maturation had a significant social dimension. Everyone went through a coming-of-age ceremony, however what it meant depended on the individual’s sex and status. In this volume, Nagano Hiroko highlights entry into youth organizations as a crucial step toward manhood in villages. For the male shop clerks analyzed here, the maturation process was marked by travel and acquisition of material possessions. Although the goal was to become an independent business man with a household and descendants, most never achieved this end. Their masculinity had to incorporate perpetual dependency on their employer’s paternalism. This chapter focuses on the crises surrounding the transition and maturation of men and merchant house employees. It focuses on their first entry into the house, their coming-of-age ceremony, and their series of trips to the main store. The merchant house played a crucial role as a benevolent parent to the new recruits who were typically no older than ten or eleven. It established regulations to guide their behavior, supervised their demeanor and their clothing, and shaped their masculine development to its own ends by enforcing a system of live-in employment.

Keywords: maturity; Japan; maturation; coming-of-age ceremony; manhood; merchant house

Chapter.  8407 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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