Japan: Shokado Women's Bookstore
The Japanese adaptation of Our Bodies, Ourselves was first published in 1975, with a reprint of 6000 copies in 1988, all of which were distributed within a decade. At the time, Japanese women and girls had little knowledge of and control over their bodies and the adaptation helped bring reliable health information to thousands across the country.
Though currently out of print, our partner feels their resource has had a lasting impact on Japanese society.
|Here is one inspiring example:
While working on content, they discovered that terms for certain female body parts, such as pubic hair, the pubic bone and the vulva, used Chinese characters with negative connotations. They replaced these characters with others that were more positive or neutral, ultimately coining new terms. Since publication, at least one of the new terms - "seimo" or "sexual hair" - has been integrated into some of the latest Japanese dictionaries.
There is also a growing tendency in Japanese society to avoid Chinese characters that convey "shame" or "shadiness". Instead, our partner reports, Japanese language increasingly uses neutral characters or "katakana-go" - foreign words turned into Japanese - when talking about male and female bodies.
The Japanese resource inspired other women to come together to research and publish information on topics that affect their lives. This helped dispel some of the shame and secrecy that surrounds issues like birth control, menopause, endometriosis and domestic violence. It also encouraged medical professionals to improve the quality of care and services they provide to women and girls.
In 2004, OBOS Global Initiative distributed 45 copies of the Japanese adaptation to organizations working with Japanese immigrants in the US.
In 2001, our partner translated and published a complementary volume to Our Bodies, Ourselves called Sacrificing Ourselves for Love. This publication deals with issues related to dieting and eating disorders, cosmetic surgery, domestic violence, rape, and STDs, all of which are serious problems in Japanese society. It also includes information on shelters and counseling services available to battered women in Japan. Read the preface.
To find out more about how and why the adaptation came about, see Shokado Women’s Bookstore Shows Language is Power, a blog post by OBOS historian Kathy Davis.
If you would like more information about this project and explore ways you might get involved, please contact the OBOS Global Initiative staff.
Japanese edition of Sacrifing Ourselves for Love - Read the preface.
Meet Our Partner
The Shokado Women’s Bookstore used to be a small bookstore and publisher in Kyoto, Japan.
Due to chronic financial shortage and limited support for publishing, the organization's work on a Japanese adaptation was carried out totally on a voluntary base - 23 women worked on translation and another 25 women took charge of editing and gathering information to adapt the book to Japanese culture and needs. While many were housewives, with no experience and/or training in translation and editing (until the project), some did have professional experience and were responsible for proof-reading the manuscript.
The team also had a feminist obstetrician-gynecologist who volunteered to check technical terms and develop content on differences between medical systems and treatments in the US and Japan. She also invited a photographer to join the group and share pictures of women giving birth at her hospital in Hiroshima. In fact, Shokado replaced all the pictures in Our Bodies, Ourselves with Japanese women. This encouraged many women to participate, including a pregnant friend that modeled in the nude and a famous artist that made a charming collage for the cover.
Shokado, under new ownership, has relocated to Osaka and is now known as the Women's Bookstore YUU.
For more information about the Shokado Women’s Bookstore, please contact either the OBOS Global Initiative or the organization directly. Looking for a Copy?
Contact Person: Yuko Moriya
Address: Dawn Center 1 F, 1-3-49 Otemae Chuo-ku, Osaka-city, Osaka, Japan, 540-0008
If you would like copies of the Japanese adaptation, please contact the Shokado Women's Bookstore (now called the Women's Bookstore YUU) at firstname.lastname@example.org.