From Situated Selves to the Self

Conversion and Personhood among Roman Catholics in Tokyo

By Hisako Omori

Subjects: Asian Studies, Anthropology, Religion
Paperback : 9781438478142, 240 pages, January 2021
Hardcover : 9781438478159, 240 pages, May 2020

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
A Note on Transliteration and Translation


1. Setting the Stage

2. Propriety, Virtues, and Social Obligations

3. Breaking the Barrel and Becoming Catholic

4. Housewives, Nippon Danji, and the Church

5. Private Faith and the Legacy of Persecution

Conclusion and Implications

Works Cited

Argues for an important transformation in the construction of the self among Japanese converts to Roman Catholicism.


In many parts of the world, the Roman Catholic Church in the twenty-first century finds itself mired in scandal, and its future prospects appear fairly dim in the eyes of many social critics. In From Situated Selves to the Self, however, Hisako Omori finds a radically different situation, with jubilant Roman Catholics in an unexpected place: Tokyo, Japan. Based on twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork, the author provides a culturally sensitive account of the transformative processes associated with becoming Catholic in Tokyo. Her ethnographically rich narrative reveals the ways in which Christianity as a cultural force can effect changes in one's personhood by juxtaposing two models of the self—one based on conventional Japanese social ideals and the other on Roman Catholic teachings. Omori takes readers to a living room ("ochanoma") in a parish, a Catholic bar in a nightclub area, Catholic charismatic meetings, and busy intersections in Tokyo. In so doing, she traces subtle yet emerging changes in women's agentive power that accompany the processes of deepening faith. From Situated Selves to the Self gives us a rare glimpse into Christianity as a cultural force in an East Asian context where Confucianism has historically been the dominant ethical framework.

Hisako Omori is Assistant Professor of International Liberal Arts at the Akita International University.


"This volume is a must-read for further studies on how religions can shape one's behavior and sense of self." — Religious Studies Review

"This book contributes to the scholarship on Japanese self and women, builds on works on Japanese religion, and offers a very nuanced and in-depth study of practitioners." — Nancy Rosenberger, Oregon State University