(De)Constructing Nostalgic Myths of the Mother in Japanese drama Woman
Keywords:Japan, television drama, motherhood, furusato, nostalgia
AbstractIn a time of uncertainty and crisis, many Japanese have sought comfort in images of an idyllic native home, centred on a devoted, nurturing mother. Paradoxically, while this romanticised conception of the 'mother' is mourned as a casualty of modernisation, it is a relatively recent invention produced in response to anxieties over the rapid social changes Japan experienced during the post-war period. The construction of this maternal fantasy has primarily been the work of men seeking solace in the warm embrace of the 'mother' as compensation for their diminishing social status. However, nostalgic representations are not invariably sweet reminiscences. The television drama Woman is one example of a media product that exploited the nostalgic image of motherhood without ignoring its contraditions. I argue that in its depiction of two contrasting returns to one's native home, the drama constructs an indulgent, child-centred idealisation of motherhood only to deconstruct it through the revelation of its artifice. In the process, it reveals the constrasting dissatisfactions of men and women in contemporary Japan.
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