Book Announcement: Japanese Prostitutes in the North American West, 1887-1920


Via University of Washington Press.

Japanese Prostitutes in the North American West, 1887-1920

paperback not available
$40.00S HARDCOVER (9780295998336)

SUBJECT LISTING: Asian American Studies; History / American History; Asian Studies / Japan
BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 312 pp., 11 illus., 5 maps, 6 x 9 in.
SERIES: Emil and Kathleen Sick Book Series in Western History and Biography

This compelling study of a previously overlooked vice industry explores the larger structural forces that led to the growth of prostitution in Japan, the Pacific region, and the North American West at the turn of the twentieth century. Combining very personal accounts with never before examined Japanese sources, historian Kazuhiro Oharazeki traces these women’s transnational journeys from their origins in Japan to their arrival in Pacific Coast cities. He analyzes their responses to the oppression they faced from pimps and customers, as well as the opposition they faced from American social reformers and Japanese American community leaders. Despite their difficult circumstances, Oharazeki finds, some women were able to parlay their experience into better jobs and lives in America. Though that wasn’t always the case, their mere presence here nonetheless paved the way for other Japanese women to come to America and enter the workforce in more acceptable ways.

By focusing on this “invisible” underground economy, Japanese Prostitutes in the North American West sheds new light on Japanese American immigration and labor histories and opens a fascinating window into the development of the American West.
KAZUHIRO OHARAZEKI is instructor of foreign studies at Setsunan University in Japan.
“A valuable addition-and intervention-to the existing scholarship on early Japanese American history and Asian American women’s history. Provides a rare glimpse into the demographic characteristics of Japanese prostitutes, as well as the socioeconomic context in which they were compelled to leave home.”
-Eiichiro Azuma, author of Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America
“Oharazeki offers innovative and original discussions about Japanese prostitution on global and comparative scales.”
-Shelley Lee, author of Claiming the Oriental Gateway: Prewar Seattle and Japanese America


About LM

Musings on geekery and gender with a Japan focus.
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