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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Event Series
March 16, 2022

DIJ Gender and Sexuality lecture series talk on Japanese ryokan

What does it take to produce one of Japan’s most relaxing spaces: the ryokan? In this talk, Chris McMorran will share the behind-the-scenes work required to keep a traditional Japanese inn running smoothly, from the daily tasks of cleaning, serving, and making guests feel at home, to the generational work of producing and training a suitable heir who can carry on the family business. McMorran’s insights are based on nearly two decades of research in and around Kurokawa Onsen (Kumamoto Prefecture), including a year spent welcoming guests, carrying luggage, scrubbing baths, cleaning rooms, washing dishes, and talking with co-workers and owners about their jobs, relationships, concerns, and aspirations. The talk will address how Kurokawa’s ryokan mobilize hospitality to create a rural escape in contemporary Japan and highlight the strictly gendered work found in the ryokan. It is part of the DIJ Gender and Sexualities lecture series. Registration and details here

Chris McMorran, National University of Singapore