Aging is inevitable. Every individual experiences life's pathos of diminishing strength, flexibility, beauty, roles, relationships, and memory. On the other hand, aging is a group experience that differs from culture to culture. Especially in multicultural societies like the United States, aging differs from one ethnic group to another. The Japanese American elderly, who are perceived as a model minority, are no exception to this differentiation. Aging among Japanese American Immigrants explores the ethnic dimensions of aging among Japanese immigrants in the United States. Due to the successful assimilation of Japanese (Issei) and Japanese Americans (Nisei and Sansei) into American society, they have not been perceived as a discrete age group that needs social support or special health care. Their aging experience, however, is essentially dissimilar to that of 'white ethnic' elderly. Most of the Issei and Nisei are now old men and women who relish Japanese ethnic food and croon Japanese songs in Japanese. It is apparent that the elderly are forced to re-synthesize themselves and transform their social and cultural involvement based on their ethnicity.
The ethnographic research explores the ethnic dimensions of aging among Japanese and Japanese-American elderly in the United States, and illustrates their acculturative aging process and the parallel diminishment of culture-deculturative process.
Itsuko Kanamoto is Associate Professor of Anthropology and head of the Department of International Communication and Tourism, Heian Jogakuin University, Kyoto, Japan, and is the author of A Quantitative Study on Japanese Elderly in Brazil (Beneficencia Nipo-Brasileira de Sao Paulo), and also a contributor of Methodology for Intercultural Communication Study.
1. The Graying Japanese American Community 2. Toward New Perspectives on Ethnicity and Aging 3. Living with the Japanese Elderly: Research Methodology 4. Ethnohistory as Collective Memory of Japanese Immigrants in the United States 5. Tales of Aging: Oral Life History as Projective Configuration of Memory 6. Retracing Ethnic Memory: The Ethnography of Aging in Elderly Communities 7. Conclusion: Activating Ethnicity in Memory during the Later Stage of Life