redefined accordingly. The importance of this insight reaches far beyond the study of mortuary practices into many other realms of social and familial issues--most obviously the issues involving the elderly and their care, but also youth-related problems such as hikikomori ("shut ins" who lock themselves in their rooms and refuse all social contact), whose "choice" may be sustained only with parental support. Equally important is Kawano's focus on death and death rites. Aging is a major concern in Japan today, and many scholars have focused their studies on various aspects of aging as social and cultural phenomena. Yet, death seems to have escaped critical attention until recently, as though it is the natural consequence of aging. As Kawano's study reminds us, there is nothing "natural" about death rites, which are a fertile ground for social and cultural analysis, through which we have much to learn about life itself in postrecession Japan. Health Inequalities in Japan: An Empirical Study of Older People. Edited by Katsunori Kondo. Trans Pacific Press, Melbourne, 2010. xxxii, 291 pages. $109.95. Reviewed by Amy Borovoy Princeton University Japan is no longer seen as one of the world's exceptions. Once it was an industrial society notable
The Journal of Japanese Studies – Society for Japanese Studies
Published: Jul 14, 2012
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