Family in Japan

Asian 310 & WGS 311

Instructor: Allison Alexy
aalexy [at]
Monday and Wednesday, 11:30am to 12:50pm (Ann Arbor time), meeting in Zoom
Office hours: Wednesdays, 2 to 4pm. Sign up for office hours here.

What is the importance of family in contemporary Japan? This course begins to answer this central question by exploring both families as lived experience and Family as a powerful symbol for national unity. Focusing on the ways in which families have been imagined, legislated, lived, and refused, we will examine legal structures and social norms that shape these very personal groups. Including social scientific theory about kinship, the course traces the centrality of family in contemporary life while analyzing debates about family change, social conflict, and personal preferences. Topics include the household registry system, parent-child relationships, family-owned businesses, queer families, divorce, and domestic violence.

The images on these pages come from Japanese films and television shows centered on family life. Above is Tokyo Story (Tokyo monogatari).