By Akiko Hashimoto
An interdisciplinary examine the dramatic alterations within the modern eastern kin, together with either empirical information and analyses of renowned culture..
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Extra resources for Imagined Families, Lived Families: Culture and Kinship in Contemporary Japan
In the daily life of readers, however, those same mismatches were not always as comical. 7 In the case of mother/daughters-in-law relations, readers seemed to assume that new choices would release them from traditional roles, yet despaired when the release failed to materialize. In these conﬂicts, both sides seemed to feel hostage, and usually saw the other as unreasonable, unjust, self-serving and exploitative. As a result, typical accounts revealed intense bitterness: I’ve given my daughter-in-law so much support.
Against this backdrop, an emphasis on women’s nurturing role as mothers in the new family began to overshadow the emphasis on serving in-laws (Uno 1993, 304), and the anxieties and struggles of such reconﬁguring relationships became visible in popular culture creations like family comics. The mother-in-law was especially a ubiquitous character deployed to explore the tensions of women’s changing roles, obligations, and authority. From the 1970s through the 1990s, these characters were invested with strong personalities and varying degrees of authority, ranging from the menacing to the benign.
With Ak’ko in this subordinate position, conﬂict and deﬁance were strictly contained, which allowed her romanticized in-law relationship to ﬂourish in the weekly stories. Even as Ak’ko went from being a newlywed to the mother of Taro¯ and Hanako, she never seemed to age or gain power over her mother-in-law. She remained the cute, young housewife who 24 Imagined Families, Lived Families always made naïve mistakes as she learned to be a proper housewife of the Sakamoto family from the authority. She was always the novice and also lovable for all the mistakes she made; and even when scolded by her mother-in-law, she always managed to get through such episodes with a sparkling smile.
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