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Book published: “Ryokan”

A/P McMorran’s research monograph on the hospitality found in Japanese inns, or ryokan, has been published: Ryokan: mobilizing hospitality in rural Japan (original artwork by Sakaguchi Yoshie)

It provides a unique behind-the-scenes look at small family businesses in Japan’s economically and demographically troubled countryside, drawing attention to some business’ successful efforts at community revitalization, as well as their reliance on a highly flexible and mobile workforce that enables each family’s long-term financial and familial stability. Ryokan introduces the people whose lives and labor converge in ryokan, including business owners, chefs, cleaners, drivers, gardeners, and front desk clerks. Based primarily on twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork spent working in a handful of ryokan, as well as a decade of follow-up visits, I examine this diverse group that together makes tourists feel at home. I explain not only the physical and emotional work that produces ryokan, but also the divergent expectations of family, career, and self among employees and owners. As I show, the ryokan often provides a last resort for individuals to reach divergent goals, such as regional socio-economic revitalization, household continuity, job skill development, economic prosperity, self-fulfillment, and even, for some of the women who work in these businesses, escape from domestic violence through poorly-paid, dead-end service work.

Now available from the publisher’s website and online booksellers:

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