In this highly personal account Joy Hendry relates her experiences of fieldwork in a Japanese town and reveals a fascinating cross-section of Japanese life. She sets out on a study of politeness but a variety of unpredictable events including a volcanic eruption, a suicide and her son's involvement with the family of a poweful local gangster, begin to alter the direction of her research. The book demonstrates the role of chance in the acquisition of anthropological knowledge and demonstrates how moments of insight can be embedded in everyday activity. An Anthropologist in Japan illuminates the education system, religious beliefs, politics, the family and the neighbourhood in modern Japan.

part I|42 pages

Settling in and making contacts

chapter Chapter 1|6 pages

Arrival…and an invitation

chapter Chapter 2|7 pages

The neighbourhood

A ‘world of blossom and willow’

chapter Chapter 3|7 pages

The hospital…and a strange encounter

chapter Chapter 4|7 pages

The school…and a fight

chapter Chapter 5|6 pages

A pilgrims' trail

part II|38 pages

Events to attend

chapter Chapter 7|8 pages

Wrapping the body

Two local festivals

chapter Chapter 8|7 pages

The housewives' ‘Club for Life’

chapter Chapter 9|7 pages

Cubs, sports and a shock

chapter Chapter 11|8 pages

Paper walls and flowers at the bank

part III|37 pages

The role of experts

chapter Chapter 12|8 pages

A foreigner at the ‘Culture Festival’

chapter Chapter 14|5 pages

A volcanic eruption

chapter Chapter 15|7 pages

Tennis and the ‘surreal’ dinner

part IV|35 pages

Building a framework for analysis

chapter Chapter 17|8 pages

New Year

Shrine, mochi and a tea ceremony

chapter Chapter 19|6 pages

The gang-leader's wife

chapter Chapter 20|7 pages

Unwrapping the argument

chapter Chapter 21|6 pages

An artistic farewell