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Paperback The Secrets of Mariko: A Year in the Life of a Japanese Woman and Her Family Book

ISBN: 0679772626

ISBN13: 9780679772620

The Secrets of Mariko: A Year in the Life of a Japanese Woman and Her Family

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

As it follows a Japanese housewife named Mariko Tanaka over the course of a year, The Secrets of Mariko transcends reportage to yield the kind of human insights we expect from literature. Meet Mariko,... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Excellent book

I have just finished this book, and found it thoroughly enjoyable in a sober sense. Each chapter gave me something to think over; the book left me with a deeper understanding of Japanese culture and the way relationships are intertwined in that nation. As I am studying Japanese, I may have found this book much more interesting than someone who has no particular interest in Japan. That said, if you have an open mind and interest in the culture, there's a good chance you'll love this book as much as I did. At times, it seemed the author was a little too self-seeking. I would certainly hope she has kept in some form of contact with Mariko, and perhaps passed on some royalties from the book - given the massive amount of time Mariko and her family spent with the author (she did give Mariko's family a gift at the end, but to me that didn't seem enough). Aside from that, the book was a real eye opener and I couldn't put it down. Bear in mind the author spent time with Mariko between 1991-1992, so by now there will certainly be some cultural discrepencies and perhaps attitude changes.

Window into another lifestyle

This book provides glimpses of the lifestyle of an average Japanese housewife. Written by a journalist rather than an anthropologist, the author explores the life and important events of Mariko over the course of a year. Through the author's interviews, we learn the history of the family and the views of Mariko, her husband and children on such topics as family life, parenting, and work. As a journalist, Bumiller is quite interested in Japanese opinions and attitudes about current events, so Mariko and her family explain some of their complex feelings about the U.S. We visit the children's schools and work places, and see where they go on vacation. Along the way, Bumiller also interviews prominent Japanese who are in some way connected to aspects of Mariko's life, such as politicians, the head of the mob, and a talk show host. By the end of the book, readers are familiar with many details of average Japanese family life, something that would be unattainable unless one were to either grow up in Japan or live for long enough in Japan to develop close friendships with locals. But even Bumiller points out that she has only scratched the surface, and there is much about Mariko's life that we can never comprehend just by reading a book.

A great book for those interested in Japanese culture

True, this book is written from a Western perspective, but as most of the readers are coming from that same perspective, this did not bother me. This book examines the life of Mariko and herfamily and gets beyond the surface to examine work, love, gender roles, growing up, school, traditions, and more in modern-day Japan. It is fascinating and will make you want to know more about Japan and Japanese culture.

Outside, looking in

As much as the author's view on the complex dynamics of the Japaese appears simplistic and limited, nonetheless, her observations are keen and her articulation of her own reactions are flawless. This is not meant to be a judgemental account of the West looking at the East. Rather, it is a collection of one's own analysis and predilections of a society- an attempt at wrapping one's mind around an organic, enigmatic phenamenon. Thoughtful, genuine, true to the Asian experience that not all things can be said on the words of a page.

Insightful look at Japanese family life and interaction

This book takes a personal look at Mariko, who is a wife, mother, and daughter in modern-day Japan. This book cuts through typical Japan-bashing rhetoric, and provides an intimate look at Japanese family life during a time when familial roles are being challenged and re-defined almost daily. This behind-the-scenes view of family life is one that few non-Japanese get to experience. I particularly enjoyed how the book illustrated the rhythm of Mariko's daily life over a year's time. The book shows how Japanese women have much more freedom of expression and independence than men which is quite contrary to what most westerners believe.
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