Review: Kickboxing Geishas.

“I believe the costuming of today’s Japanese young women reveals, in a powerful way, how for many young Japanese females, Japan is a hard place to become a grown-up woman.”


Kickboxing Geishas: How Modern Japanese Women are Changing their Nation” by Veronica Chambers

For me, Japan has always been an interesting country, and part of what makes it interesting is its constant evolution. Kickboxing Geishas is a look at one of its most recent evolutions: the rise of the modern woman in Japanese society. Granted, it’s a little more complex than just the movement from the Japanese woman as the quiet, subservient geisha stereotype to a powerful force in popular culture, politics, and economics, as well, and Veronica Chambers does an excellent job of taking a look at this shift in perspective through interviews and interactions with a variety of different people from many walks of life, some new and groundbreaking, others more traditional and expected.

Kickboxing Geishas is a really great read. As someone with an interest in both modern Japanese culture and its history, I did not exactly find it revealing or surprising, though there were some new things I’ll have to check out. But I did see it as a very good introspective on people in general, what motivates them, and how they can change their circumstances. Quite a few times, I wished Chambers would dig a little deeper than the surface, but it did make for a pretty quick read. I felt the writing could have been a little polished; perhaps it’s designed to be read much slower, but I felt that, many times, things I had just read were reiterated with only a few shifts in wording.

Despite any little niggling things I may have about this book, there’s no denying that the women that Chambers brings to the floor and the great comparisons she makes about this evolving culture and our own are incredibly insightful and inspiring. Considering that I picked up a book on 17th century Japanese literature soon after finishing Kickboxing Geishas, it’s definitely resparking my love of Japan, which is never a bad thing.

Books read: 5/100.

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