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Art, Aging and Abandonment in Japan- Jason Danely

Art, Aging and Abandonment in Japan- Jason Danely

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Published by Jason Danely
This article was downloaded by: [Danely, Jason Allen] On: 14 March 2010 Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 919858489] Publisher Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 3741 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts

Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t762319447

Art, Ag
This article was downloaded by: [Danely, Jason Allen] On: 14 March 2010 Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 919858489] Publisher Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 3741 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts

Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t762319447

Art, Ag

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Published by: Jason Danely on Mar 15, 2011
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This article was downloaded by:
[Danely, Jason Allen] 
On:
14 March 2010 
Access details:
Access Details: [subscription number 919858489] 
Publisher
Routledge 
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t762319447
Art, Aging, and Abandonment in Japan
Jason A. Danely
aa
Center on Age and Community, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USAOnline publication date: 12 March 2010
To cite this Article
Danely, Jason A.(2010) 'Art, Aging, and Abandonment in Japan', Journal of Aging, Humanities, and theArts, 4: 1, 4  17
To link to this Article: DOI:
10.1080/19325610903419350
URL:
Full terms and conditions of use:http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdfThis article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contentswill be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug dosesshould be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directlyor indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
 
Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts 
, 4:4–17, 2010Copyright
©
Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1932-5614 print/1932-5622 onlineDOI: 10.1080/19325610903419350
Art, Aging, and Abandonment in Japan 
JASON A. DANELY 
Center on Age and Community, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee,Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Representations of aging in Japanese art not only influence how older adults construct their identity in late life, but the ethicaimplications of this identification. This article concentrates on one representation of aging in Japanese art, the crone of Obasuteyama,as she has appeared in various forms throughout centuries of  Japanese folklore, literature, theater, and film. This article argues that although the Obasuteyama story addresses the moral ques-tions surrounding the fear of abandonment in old age, its multiple artistic interpretations also provide older adults with different, and sometimes contradictory cultural models to understand and cope with this fear. Ethnographic observations and interview material concerning aging and abandonment in the lives of present-day Japanese adults are used to show how seemingly different attitudes toward aging can be linked to a shared narrative of abandonment.KEYWORDS Japanese literature, abandonment, identity, psy-chosocial factors, obasute 
SAMUEL BECKETT IN KYOTO
In the summer of 2006, as my first extended period of ethnographic field-work on aging in Japan was coming to an end, I was invited by friends to atheater performance in central Kyoto. The performance consisted of several
Research for this article was conducted with the generous support of an IIE FulbrightGrant and Pacific Rim Mini-Grant. I would also like to thank the Center on Age andCommunity at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee for their support during the writingstage of this article.Address correspondence to Jason A. Danely, Center on Age and Community,University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, PO Box 786, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413, USA. E-mail:danely@uwm.edu4
Downloaded By: [Danely, Jason Allen] At: 20:05 14 March 2010
 
Art, Aging, and Abandonment in Japan
5
short plays by Japanese as well as non-Japanese actors billed as “contem-porary 
Ky ¯ ogen,
” an updated version of a centuries old traditional style of Japanese comic theater (Salz, 2001). The performances skillfully employedthe play between cultures, languages and traditions to heighten the comediceffect of each piece, giving the audience the thrill of not knowing what toexpect next. But as the curtain rose after the intermission, we were showna scene that was anything but comical. A single rocking chair had beenplaced in the center of the stage, and a disembodied woman’s voice beganto slowly recite the words of Samuel Beckett’s
Rockaby 
(Beckett, 1981) in astrange and solemn cadence of rising and falling pitches:
1
till in the endthe day camein the end cameclose of a long day when she saidto herself whom elsetime she stoppedtime she stopped
A woman slowly made her way onto the stage and sank down into therocker. As the recorded voice continued to speak the repetitive, mantra-likescript, a performer in a Noh mask glided slowly onto the stage, mirror-ing the rocking woman’s feelings through the subtle gestures of ancientJapanese theater. Meanwhile, the recitation continued, washing over thelargely Japanese audience in gentle waves:
all eyes all sideshigh and lowfor anotheranother like herself 
The whole sensory experience was almost trance inducing, and ittook several repetitions before the meaning of the words themselves couldpenetrate the aura that they cast over the audience, myself included. Thewords of the old woman, shadowed by the masked Japanese figure, revealher desire to be “seen” by “another like herself,” to hold onto both memory and personhood even as she knows that it is “time she stopped.Therepetition of this last line suggests a double meaningthat in old age shestopped time, moving only back in forth but never forward. Still she goeson rocking, repeating her search and finding no other “living soul,” only memories of those in her past. Though physically still save for the rocking,the woman’s memories and fantasies seem to roam over the stage like aghost searching for something lost long ago. In the end, the only clue we
Downloaded By: [Danely, Jason Allen] At: 20:05 14 March 2010

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