Synopses & Reviews
Forget the stereotypes. Today's Japanese women are shattering them -- breaking the bonds of tradition and dramatically transforming their culture. Shopping-crazed schoolgirls in Hello Kitty costumes and the Harajuku girls Gwen Stefani helped make so popular have grabbed the media's attention. But as critically acclaimed author Veronica Chambers has discovered through years of returning to Japan and interviewing Japanese women, the more interesting story is that of the legions of everyday women -- from the office suites to radio and TV studios to the worlds of art and fashion and on to the halls of government -- who have kicked off a revolution in their country.
Japanese men hardly know what has hit them. In a single generation, women in Japan have rewritten the rules in both the bedroom and the boardroom. Not a day goes by in Japan that a powerful woman doesn't make the front page of the newspapers. In the face of still-fierce sexism, a new breed of women is breaking through the "rice paper ceiling" of Japan's salary-man dominated corporate culture. The women are traveling the world -- while the men stay at home -- and returning with a cosmopolitan sophistication that is injecting an edgy, stylish internationalism into Japanese life. So many women are happily delaying marriage into their thirties -- labeled "losing dogs" and yet loving their liberated lives -- that the country's birth rate is in crisis.
With her keen eye for all facets of Japanese life, Veronica Chambers travels through the exciting world of Japan's new modern women to introduce these "kickboxing geishas" and the stories of their lives: the wildly popular young hip-hop DJ; the TV chef who is also a government minister; the entrepreneur who founded a market research firm specializing in charting the tastes of the teenage girls driving the country's GNC -- "gross national cool"; and the Osaka assembly-woman who came out publicly as a lesbian -- the first openly gay politician in the country.
Taking readers deep into these women's lives and giving the lie to the condescending stereotypes, Chambers reveals the vibrant, dynamic, and fascinating true story of the Japanese women we've never met. Kickboxing Geishas is an entrancing journey into the exciting, bold, stylish new Japan these women are making.
is a knockout! Veronica Chambers punches through the 'shoji screen' that separates the true lives of Japanese women from the stereotypes that surround them. Her reporting is as fascinating as it is appealing, her insights as surprising as they are generous."
-- Aimee Liu, author of Cloud Mountain
"A charming adventure and a compelling account of cultural exploration. My own misconceptions about Japan melted away as I read this book. With vivid color, Veronica Chambers portrays a pastiche of Japanese lives: a hip-hopper, a jewelry designer, a snowboarder, a lesbian legislator, an IBM executive. She explains Japan's obsession with Audrey Hepburn, describes the blossoming sex clubs for women, and outlines why so many newlyweds get divorced upon return from their honeymoons. Kickboxing Geishas
finds universal humanity in the paradoxes and vibrancy of Japanese women."
-- Seth Faison, author of South of the Clouds: Exploring the Hidden Realms of China and former Shanghai Bureau Chief for The New York Times
"Finally, a book that goes beyond the stereotypes to show real Japanese women in all their complexity. Chambers gets below the surface of Japanese society to reveal a side of the country most foreigners never see. Kickboxing Geishas
is an engaging account of the tremendous changes sweeping Japanese society."
-- Rochelle Kopp, author of The Rice-Paper Ceiling: Breaking through Japanese Corporate Culture
About the Author
Veronica Chambers was an editor for The New York Times Magazine, a culture writer for Newsweek, and a senior associate editor at Premiere magazine. Her work has appeared in Vogue and Glamour, among many other publications. She is also the author of a critically acclaimed memoir, Mama's Girl. In 2000 she received a fellowship from the Japan Society to spend several months researching in Japan. She fell in love with the country and has returned for extended stays every year since.