Japanizing Japanese Families

Regional Diversity and the Emergence of a National Family Model through the Eyes of Historical Demography


Volume Editors: and
This book draws on historical demography to elucidate the regional diversity of the Japanese family and its convergence toward an integrated national family model that heralded the modern era, providing a new image of the family in pre-industrial Japan. The volume challenges the idea of early modern (1600-1870) Japan as a monolithic nation based on the ie, – the stem-family household so often mentioned as the fundamental form of Japanese social organization and enshrined in the Meiji Civil Code – which, in fact, came into being at various locales, at various speeds in the latter half of the 18th and the earlier half of the 19th centuries. In addition, there are several chapters which examine the role of women, either centrally or tangentially.

With contributions by Mary Louise NAGATA, YAMAMOTO Jun, Hiroko COSTANTINI, Stephen ROBERTSON, MIZOGUCHI Tsunetoshi, NAKAJIMA Mitsuhiro, TSUBOUCHI Yoshihiro and MORIMOTO Kazuhiko.

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OCHIAI Emiko is a Japanese sociologist and professor of sociology at Kyoto University, specializing in family and gender studies from historical and comparative perspectives. Her English publications include Asian Families and Intimacies, 4 vols. (2021).

HIRAI Shoko is a demographer and sociologist and professor at Kobe University. Her PhD was given in Japanese Studies, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies at Kyoto. Her current project is to elucidate characteristics of Japanese families throughout the past 300 years.
List of Illustrations

List of Original Publications

Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Regional Diversity and the Emergence of a National Family Model at the Verge of Modernity
  Ochiai Emiko (落合 恵美子)

part 1
The Revival of North-Eastern Japan
1 Emergence of the Ie in North-Eastern Japan, 1720–1870
  Hirai Shoko (平井 晶子)

2 Balancing Family Strategies with Individual Choice: Name Changing in North-Eastern and Central Villages
  Mary Louise Nagata (永田 メアリー)

3 Absolute Primogeniture (Anekatoku) in Demographic Perspective
  Yamamoto Jun (山本 ), Hiroko Costantini and Stephen Robertson

4 Marriage and Childbirth among Female Servants in a North-Eastern Village: Reconciliation between Work and Reproduction in Japanese Labour History
  Ochiai Emiko (落合 恵美子)

part 2
Maritime Populations of South-Western Japan
5 Tsumadoi: Visiting Marriage and Household Structure on Yakushima Island
  Mizoguchi Tsunetoshi (溝口常俊)

6 Population, Marriage, and Extramarital Births in a South-Western Maritime Village
  Nakajima Mitsuhiro (中島 満大)

7 The Love and Life of a Centenarian Woman: Historical Demography Meets Oral History in a Coastal Village in South-Western Japan
  Ochiai Emiko (落合 恵美子)

part 3
Samurai Norms and Life Courses
8 Samurai Children’s Prospects: Evidence from Tokuyama Domain
  Tsubouchi Yoshihiro (坪内 良博)

9 From Farmer to Samurai: The Effect of Status Change on Demographic Behaviour and Family Life
  Yamamoto Jun (山本 ), Hiroko Costantini and Stephen Robertson

part 4
Registration Systems and the Creation of the Ie
10 The Notional View of the Family Expressed in Population Registers: Shūmon aratame-chō and Ninbetsu aratame-chō
  Hirai Shoko (平井 晶子)

11 Ancestral Worship and Women: From “Split-Parish Households” to “Single-Temple Households”
  Morimoto Kazuhiko (森本 一彦)


Scholars and graduate students in Japanese and Asian studies, family sociology, gender studies, historical demography, and history of the family and in related fields of historical sociology, historiography, economic history, and anthropology.
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