Embodying Japan: Cultures of Sport, Beauty, and Medicine 2017

Bodies and Hygiene in Japan

"..An explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations" - Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 1976
“This plainly shows that a manual knack can only be learnt slowly. Every technique properly so-called has its own form. But the same is true of every attitude of the body. Each society has its own special habits… These ‘habits’ do not just vary with individuals and their imitations, they vary especially between societies, educations, properties and fashions, prestiges.” - Mauss, Techniques of the body, 1973

Marcel Mauss observed differences in the body techniques between the English and the French troops and emphasized that every technique of the body is byproducts of education and socialization with societies and its own ‘habits'.

Throughout this path, the idea of biopower and the meaning of bodies are going to be the main tool to analyze embedded national attempts within Japanese hygiene culture. There are numerous aspects of the hygiene culture that can be discussed, however, it is going to mainly focus on five main aspects: uchi(inside) vs soto(outside), bathing culture, toilet culture, health and the chain of power.


Foucault, M. (1990). The history of sexuality: The use of pleasure (Vol. 2). Vintage.
Mauss, M. (1973). Techniques of the body∗. Economy and society, 2(1), 70-88.


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