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Seeking the Self

Individualism and Popular Culture in Japan


Satomi Ishikawa

This book is about the self in contemporary Japan. In contrast to Euro-American cultures, in which the self is considered to be the essence of personhood, in Japanese culture the self is constantly reconstructed in relation to others. This particular self is studied by examining the ways popular culture is consumed, with a special focus on manga, the Japanese word for comics and cartoons.
The first part of the book contains an ethnographic research in which the author investigates the relationship between popular media and the search for self-knowledge. In the second part a historical analysis traces the development of self-seeking in Japan since the country’s modernisation period.
Contents: Consuming Commonality: Manga, Otaku, Tamagocchi – Consuming Empathy – Making a Japanese Individual: the 1970s and the ‘80s – From National to Cultural Japaneseness: the Postwar Period up to 1970 – The Emergence of national Japaneseness: from the Meiji Period to 1945.