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"Kickboxing Geishas": A Lecture at Pomona College on How Modern Japanese Women are Changing Japan

Veronica Chambers, an acclaimed journalist, and author of  Kickboxing Geishas: How Modern Japanese Women are Changing Their Nation, will give a lecture on that topic on Friday, January 26, at noon. She will address how Japanese women today are leading a socio-cultural movement that is shaking Japan’s gender stereotypes to the core.

A geisha’s white features were once a familiar archetype. But in today's Japan women wear many other faces: girlish and sexy, traditional and trendy, sophisticated and punk. In her book, Chambers goes inside the world of the new Japanese women who are freely mixing East and West, burying stereotypes and defining a new zeitgeist.

While Japan is often thought of as the land of the new: super technology, big business and a perpetually hip culture, Chambers found that for most women Japan was more like 1970s America than anything remotely 21st century.

Chambers observes that opportunities for woman in corporate Japan are still rare. Women who aren’t married by the age of 30 are called “losing dogs.” Shop-happy, twenty-somethings live with their parents and spend their disposable income on Louis Vuitton. But Chambers also encountered pioneers who have changed what it means to be a woman in Japan: the wildly costumed Yamamba girls, career women and entrepreneurs, fashionistas, and the Christmas Cake Girls (those who are over twenty-five and remain happily single).

Publishers Weekly writes: “With compassion and warm wit…[w]riting in a hip, visually vivid and entertaining style, Chambers fluently places the courage and isolation of these women in a briefly sketched social and economic context…”

Chambers was an editor for the New York Times Magazine and a culture writer for Newsweek. Her work has also appeared in Vogue and Glamour.

This lecture will be held at Pomona College’s Oldenborg Center (350 N. College Way, Claremont), and is organized by the Pacific Basin Institute and co-sponsored with the Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages & International Relations. The lecture and luncheon are free. For further information, call: (909) 607-8065 or (909) 607-1159.

The Pacific Basin Institute is dedicated to expanding and enhancing comity and shared knowledge among the nations and cultures that face the Pacific. A valued study, media production and research center for the distinguished, PBI also offers books, film series and lecture programs to a general as well as academic audience. Since the turn of the past century Pomona College has been a leader in Asian Studies among American universities.