Exit Salaryman: Revisions of Masculinity in the Literature of Mishima Yukio and Murakami Haruki

Lore, Adrian, East Asian Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Yasuda, Anri, S-East Asian Language Literature and Cultures (EALC), University of Virginia

In modern-day, contemporary Japan, masculinity is most readily identified in the form of the salaryman (サラリーマン): a salaried, white-collar employee of a corporate business most often donning a suit, frequently seen stumbling alongside coworkers out of karaoke bars as a form of social bonding, and reserved and distant with his wife and children. At its conception, the salaryman represented economic stability and social status, an image of comfort for the growing middle class as early as the 1960s, as reported by Ezra Vogel in his ethnographic study Japan’s New Middle Class: The Salary Man and His Family in a Tokyo Suburb (1963). Though decades have passed, this image of masculinity remains the most pervasive and hegemonic form of masculinity in the country, despite also being an increasingly poor representation of newer generation’s ideals of masculinity and gender expression. However, exploration of masculinity outside of the hegemonic mold are explored in elements of even major, renowned authors, such as Murakami Haruki and Mishima Yukio. This paper analyzes the ways that assumptions about masculinity and gender are subverted in two Japanese novels.

MA (Master of Arts)
Literature, Gender Studies, Masculinity, Japanese Literature
Issued Date: