Posted by: manoagirl | May 14, 2009

Packaged Japaneseness

Being of Japanese descent, I found Goldstein-Gidoni’s article from this week’s readings especially interesting. There is a picture in my living room at home of my mother in a traditional Japanese wedding kimono, though my father is in a normal black and white tux, which the photographs talked about in the reading reminded me of. For me the article made several important points:

1. It highlighted the fact that life crisis rituals are invented
2. They are used to create identity/tradition
3. In this case, they are the product of the influence of  industrial capitalism on Japanese society, life, and culture

The weddings are highly industrialized, capitalist rituals in that they adhere to a rigid time schedule and seek maximum efficiency. Further,Goldstein-Gidoni argues that many of the elements in the wedding ceremony are done for profit, such as the ceremonial cutting of the inedible wax wedding cake. Many of the aspects of the wedding are not parts of traditional Japanese wedding, but rather are later additions to a basic western style wedding. For example,Goldstein-Gidoni states that “although the Shinto ceremony is considered by the wedding parlour’s customers as part and parcel of the traditional-Japanese wedding, it did not become a standard part of the wedding until after World War II” (239). This clearly illustrates the invention of tradition involved with the life crisis ritual of weddings. Finally, the article strongly highlights that weddings in Japan seem to be a way to create a sense of “Japaneseness” in the wedding participants. This is achieved by creating traditions, such as the Shinto ceremony, and also dressing and photographing the family, and especially the bride, in traditional Japanese kimono. Additionally, this image of “Japaneseness” is infused with aspects of the western (American?) matrimonial ceremony. For example, cutting the cake, toasts, and flashy Western receptions.

While I didn’t necessarily agree with the tone the author used (I don’t know if it was just me, but they sounded kind of condescending at times) I did think that they made good points showing the invention of tradition associated with life crisis periods.

Side note…but whats with the weather today?!?!? Windy then Rainy and lighting and thundering then sunny then cloudy then rainy again…and all in the span of like…an hour…haha



  1. Hei, you must have a look of what I just said in my blog about the article!

  2. […] in Cyprus, should be seen as a rite of class distinction rather than solely a rite of passage.  MoanaGirl ties this into this week’s readings on Packaged Japaneseness and relates it back to our […]

  3. I found this article really interesting too, for many of the same reasons you have expressed. I personally would like to know more about what people involved in the ceremony actually felt about it, and what reasons for choosing this kind of wedding were expressed. I don’t think the tone was condescending, but I know what you mean; it felt quite superficial.

    Do you think that the organisation and the importance of presentation/show, not specifically as t’was in the article but as generalisations, is an aspect of Japanese culture?

  4. I do think that the idea of presentation or “face” is a very very important aspect of Japanese culture. Losing face is often a very severe social transgression, especially among older generations of Japanese or more traditionally oriented Japanese. The idea of face and how you present yourself to society was something that I got drilled into me as a child and growing up with a very strict Japanese father.

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