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Through Japanese Eyes

Thirty Years of Studying Aging in America

In Through Japanese Eyes, based on her thirty-year research at a senior center in upstate New York, anthropologist Yohko Tsuji describes old age in America from a cross-cultural perspective. Comparing aging in America and in her native Japan, she discovers that notable differences in the pan-human experience of aging are rooted in cultural differences between these two countries, and that Americans have strongly negative attitudes toward aging because it represents the antithesis of cherished American values, especially independence.Tsuji’s research discloses how her American interlocutors ingeniously fill this gap between the ideal and the real to live meaningful lives. The book also reveals that American culture, despite its seeming lack of guidance for those aging, plays a pivotal role in elders’ lives, simultaneously assisting and constraining them. Furthermore, Tsuji’s lengthy period of research illustrates major changes in her interlocutors’ lives, incorporating their declines and death, and significant shifts in the culture of aging in American society. The book also describes the author’s journey of getting to know American culture and growing into senescence herself.

Author Information

YOHKO TSUJI is an adjunct associate professor of anthropology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.


" Through Japanese Eyes is a warm and sympathetic portrait of mutual support and cooperation among older people in the US. Spanning from the 1980s through to the present day, it reveals the value of long-term personal engagement with a research site and subject matter."
— Iza Kavedžija, author of Making Meaningful Lives: Tales from an Aging Japan

"Yohko Tsuji offers carefully crafted prose and an inviting tone that welcomes the reader to share herthree decades of research on community-based aging. She begins with a critical overview of theanthropological scholarship on aging, giving students and colleagues a firm foundation inanthropological approaches to aging and why they are distinctly powerful. A native of Japan, she drawson both emic and etic perspectives in discussing how culture informs social networks based on mutualsupport, friendship, kinship and proximity."
— Maria Vesperi, co-editor of Anthropology off the Shelf: Anthropologists on Writing

Audience: College/higher education;