Ryokan: Mobilizing Hospitality in Rural Japan


Product Details

University of Hawaii Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 8.9 X 0.7 inches | 0.88 pounds

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About the Author

Chris McMorran is associate professor of Japanese studies at the National University of Singapore.


This is a well-rendered ethnography of a fascinating location with timely and significant lessons about the labor of small business, the possibilities of rural revitalization, the gendered and class varieties of precarious work, and all that lies behind the soothing experience that so many of us have enjoyed while soaking our bodies in Japanese hot springs.--William W. Kelly, Yale University
Ryokan, the iconic inns of Japan, have never before been the object of such a comprehensive English-language study. Chris McMorran explores the meanings of this culturally loaded space as well as the behind-the-scenes lives of ryokan owners and workers. The book's ethnographic insights are especially valuable, yielding a deep and empathetic understanding of the exploitation that hides behind the elegant gardens, tatami-matted rooms, and gracious service. Looking beyond the ryokan itself, McMorran introduces us to the cultural politics and history of the Japanese countryside, a part of Japan often neglected in the media's pursuit of Cool Japan.--Laura Miller, University of Missouri-St. Louis
This gem of a book draws readers into the lives and rhythms of a Japanese ryokan, and more broadly, contemporary Japanese society. Through McMorran's keen observations, we discern not only the risks in owning an inn at a time of demographic decline and the hollowing out of rural areas, but also the precarious as well as exacting nature of hospitality work for the female employees whose labor constitutes the heart and soul of these enterprises.--Glenda Roberts, Waseda University