Anthropology facts, JS Readings, JST Video

Bambini d’acqua | JST Reading

Reading Time: 3 minutes


Hi everyone, today I am back with a short book review… Yes, it’s about my book, and it might look a little self-centered, but I’m very proud of my work, and I would be very happy to share it with you and have your feedbacks!

Unfortunately, the book (like the video) is in Italian, and saw the light thanks to an amazing publishing house (Franco Angeli), and a great editor that followed me and my work for a whole year. It was a very hard work, and as I expected I would correct something or change something else but all in all I am absolutely thrilled about this little essay, and I really hope you will find it interesting too!

The water children and abortion in Japan

So, let’s get practical: what’s the book about? The Italian title (Bambini d’acqua) can be translated with Water children, and it refers to the translation of mizuko, a term today associated with mizuko kuyo, the rituals for aborted fetuses or children who died soon after birth. So as you can imagine we are moving in a very delicate field, that involves different and complex elements such as abortion, mourning, funerals and burial rituals, the role of the woman in contemporary Japan and so on…

As I tried to explain in the book, Japanese never question the abortion once it became legalized, and since the late Forties no one actually ever tried and push for a suppression of such a right. This may seem very unique, given the enormous amount of talk, fight, screaming and yelling that surround this topic in the West. In Japan, abortion is a given element in society, a woman right; moreover, is the right to plan the family you want.

Of course, the book does not dwell on the ethical debate, and it’s not meant to push any agenda whatsoever. I have no problem in declaring my firm believe in the right for abortion, but the book revolves around very different dynamics and topics, such as the way in which this particular rituals may (or may not) be a modality to go through the mourning process, to get closure, to find peace.

Of course, the interpretations surrounding this phenomenon are numerous and sometimes conflicting; that’s part of the fascination I found while studying the topic, the possibility for different interpretations to explain a social and a cultural phenomenon.

The structure of the book

Before leaving you to the video, I would just like to briefly explain how I structured the book. After a brief introduction about religion in an anthropological perspective, I decided to offer a brief historical analysis and some basic cultural elements of Japanese religions. I considered this to be fairly important, given the fact that we are moving in a completely different cultural background, and in order to better grasp the various problems and topics connected to mizuko kuyo, I thought that some previous knowledge could be useful.

I then decided to offer a brief description of the ritual, along with some places where you can find significant examples of such rituals; finally, I moved to the presentation of the different interpretations, in order to show the complexity and the manyfold feelings surrounding this phenomenon.


Books I found interesting:

  • Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan (William LaFleur)
  • Narratives of Sorrow and Dignity. Japanese Women, Pregnancy Loss, and Modern Rituals of Grieving (Bardwell L. Smith)
  • Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan (Helen Hardacre)

I really hope you will find this work of some interest, and if you have any doubts or questions, feel free to contact me in the comment section below.!

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