48 Pregnancy & Marriage in Low-Fertility Japan (Dr. Amanda C. Seaman)


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On this episode of the Japan Station podcast, we're exploring beliefs and traditions surrounding pregnancy in Japan, as well as how ideas about marriage have evolved in Japan since the Edo period. We also take a detour into the world of NES era game localization.

About Dr. Amanda C. Seaman

Dr. Amanda C. Seaman is a professor of Japanese language and literature and the Associate Chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of Writing Pregnancy in Low-Fertility Japan and Bodies of Evidence.

Topics Discussed
  • How Dr. Seaman became interested in researching the ideas and culture surrounding pregnancy in Japan
  • Japanese women's detective fiction
  • Yumi Matsuo's book Balloon Town no Satsujin (Murder in Balloon Town)
  • What a haraobi (bellyband) are used for
  • Shungicu Uchida
  • Negative views/ideas surrounding pregnancy in Japan
  • How Buddhism and Shinto have shaped ideas around pregnancy in Japan
  • Menstruation as kegare
  • Spiritual possession during childbirth and The Tale of Genji
  • Giving birth during the Edo period
  • Why it was preferred to give birth to a smaller baby
  • The changing perspectives on marriage in Japan that emerged int he 1960s
  • Ideas surrounding marriage in the Edo period
  • The role the marriage of Crown Price Akihito played in shaping views on marriage in Japan
  • What women in Japan look for in a marriage partner and how priorities have changed over the last several decades
  • The idea that women should stay silent during childbirth
  • The idea that woemn in Japan should not gain more than 10 kg during their pregnancy
  • The reluctance of Japanese doctors to perform C-sections
  • Midwives in Japan
  • Japan's decreasing birthrate
  • The 1.57 shock
  • Attempts made by the Japanese government to increase Japan's birthrate and get Japanese fathers more involved in child rearing
  • Labor pain as a demonstration of how much a mother is willing to endure for their child
  • The idea that pregnant Japanese women should avoid food of foreign origin
  • Working for Fuji Sankei and localizing NES games
  • Working with Nintendo on scripts for NES games
  • And much more!
Support on Patreon

If you enjoy Japan Station and want to ensure that we're able to produce more episodes, then please consider becoming a patron on Patreon.com. For a minimum pledge of $1 a month you'll get access to extra blog posts and additional input on future content. You'd also receive Tony's eternal, profound, and undrying gratitude.

Links, Videos, Etc.

If you would like to purchase Writing Pregnancy in Low-Fertility Japan, please consider using the Amazon affiliate link below. It won't cost you anything extra and it supports the show.

As for Devouring Japan, you can purchase it using the Amazon affiliate link below.

To listen to the soba noodles episode of Japan Station, use the link below.

Use the link below to listen to the latest episode of Ichimon Japan.

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing song: Oedo Controller (大江戸コントローラー) by Yunomi featuring Toriena (Used with permission from Yunomi) To listen to more of Yunomi's music, check out his Soundcloud page or YouTube channel.

Japan Station cover art: Provided by Erik R.

Featured image: Courtesy of Amanda C. Seaman

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77 episodes