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Japanese New YorkMigrant Artists and Self-reinvention on the World Stage$
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Olga Kanzaki Sooudi

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824839413

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824839413.001.0001

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Pushing the Reset Button

Pushing the Reset Button

Self-Reinvention and the Triumphalist Japanese Migrant Narrative

Chapter:
(p.54) 2 Pushing the Reset Button
Source:
Japanese New York
Author(s):

Olga Kanzaki Sooudi

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824839413.003.0003

This chapter examines what it calls the triumphalist migrant narrative through conversations with Japanese migrants in New York City. Through an analysis of two historical fictional stories by migrants living abroad, Nagai Kafū's “Nezame” and Mori Ōgai's “Maihime,” the chapter shows that the migrant's trajectory out of Japan and to NYC is about “pushing the reset button” on life, a means of starting life anew as an adult. It also explores the ways in which the triumphalist migrant narrative fetishizes the everyday as the paradigmatic site for individual self-reinvention. Comparing urban everyday life in NYC with that in Tokyo, it argues that the former is fetishized as a symbol of social dynamism completely absent at home. Finally, it interprets Japanese migration to NYC as a practice of jibun sagashi, or self-searching.

Keywords:   migrant narrative, Japanese migrants, New York City, Nagai Kafū, Mori Ōgai, self-reinvention, everyday life, Tokyo, migration, jibun sagashi

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