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This book was conceived in a dark restaurant/bar on one late autumn evening in new Orleans in 2010, during the 109th american anthropological association (aaa) annual meeting. After a long day of attending panels, seeing colleagues, and inspecting new books, we needed to enjoy the music for which the city is known—jazz. The result was not a release from work, however. We competed with the drums and discussed what books we were using in our Japan anthropology courses. We agreed that students love narrative-driven books, yet a monograph usually focuses on a few key topics. We wanted a book that was engaging, readable, and rich in ethnographic details that covered many key topics, and it would be even better if the book consisted of never-before-published chapters. We concluded that we should create such a volume. This is the result.

This project would not have been possible without the strong support and enthusiasm of the volume's contributors—all anthropologists who study Japan but work in different parts of the world. We are fortunate to have these colleagues. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to them for sharing their passion for studying Japan and anthropology with our readers.

Earlier versions of some of the chapters were presented at the american anthropological association annual meeting in Montreal in 2011 and at the association for asian studies annual meeting in toronto in 2012. We would like to thank everyone who took part in the panels, attended our sessions, and provided useful comments on the presentations. We would like to express our gratitude to Dr. L. Keith Brown, who contributed to our aaa panel but who unfortunately was unable to take part in the book project. We are particularly grateful to Professor annette schad-seifert of Heinrich-Heine-Universität in Duesseldorf for her insightful comments and helpful suggestions. We also appreciated the thoughtful questions raised by Dr. William Kelly during our Panel presentations. The anonymous reviewers for the University of Hawai'i Press provided constructive comments and suggestions aimed at improving the quality of this volume. We also thank our cover photo team, James nickum and Julian roberts (the photographers); Catherine Miyuki nakajima, who warmly agreed to accompany us to search for a soothsayer and have her fortune told on a wintry January night; and Ms. Mitsu Kubo, the oracle gracing our front cover, for graciously permitting us to take photos of her in action. Ms. Katsue Chiba provided the image of mothers and infants included in chapter 9. Yaesu Publishing Corporation, the publisher of Hot-K Magazine, kindly allowed us to use the cover image of the first issue in chapter 12. The remaining photos that accompany the individual chapters are by the contributors themselves. Bojana ristich's careful copyediting improved the quality of this volume. Finally, we would like to thank University of Hawai'i Press editor Pamela Kelley, who provided encouragement and support throughout the review and publication process.

Note on conventions

This volume follows a modified Hepburn style of romanization of Japanese terms. Japanese names are given in the order they are used in Japan—that is, family name followed by given name. The bibliography follows standard style in the use of surnames and given names in english sources. When dollar amounts are indicated in the text, they refer to U.s. Dollars in order to give a non-Japanese reader a sense of the approximate value of the yen amount at the time of the event described or at the time of the research.

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