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#4: More than good wives and wise mothers

I finished Japanese Women: New Feminist Perspectives on the Past, Present, and Future today, a collection of over twenty essays relating to women's place in Japan throughout the centuries and It's intriguing for its sheer breadth alone - some essays are quick histories on certain issues like the evolution of female higher education or the traditional place of women in Buddhism; others are examinations of certain contemporary issues, like the difficulty of accessing Japan's new, nominal right to paternity leave or the unique plight of foreign workers in the Japanese sex trade; others are insightful portraits of notable women, like female artists in the Meiji period and 1980s female assemblywomen in an overwhelmingly male Diet. It covers a broad spectrum of topics, and you learn a lot of unexpected tidbits, like the prominent roles socialism and Christianity played in early Japanese feminism. Plus, the voices are overwhelmingly those of actual Japanese women which is important - so much of English nonfiction material on Japan is of the "I'd make such a better Japanese citizen than those ungrateful jerks!" self-impressed overseas-author variety.

The modern material is dated a bit, as the book was published in 1995. The book's good enough for a second edition to be released, though, and I can heartily recommend it in its current state to anyone with an interest in Japanese culture.



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