Crested Kimono: Power and Love in the Japanese Business Family

Matthews M. Hamabata, Author
Matthews M. Hamabata, Author Cornell University Press $35 (191p) ISBN 978-0-8014-2333-8
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
From a distance, the traditional, hierarchical Japanese household, or ie , ``seems populated with automatons'' obediently discharging their duties. But up close, it is a tumult of love, anger, envy and nurturing care, an institution that weds the instinctive to societal demands. Sociologist Hamabata, dean of Haverford College and a third-generation Japanese-American, presents a nuanced, enlightening study of four wealthy households in Japan. His fieldwork reveals how the ie provides a framework for coping with day-to-day dilemmas, with death and the ghosts of the departed and with intense family conflicts. Two such clashes involve a young woman locked in a loveless marriage, futilely seeking oneness with her husband, and a grandfather whose refusal to cede the reins of succession to the next generation triggers a dramatic business and family dispute. Also glimpsed is the arranged marriage, a ritual of negotiation that may include inspection of family records to ensure that the prospective partner does ``not come from a genetically impaired line.'' (May)
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