Published by Simon and Schuster
Japanese women today are the leaders in a socio-cultural movement in Japan that is shaking the country's gender stereotypes to their core. Journalist Veronica Chambers explores these explosive changes. If a geisha's white features were once a familiar archetype, the women of today's Japan wear many faces: girlish and sexy, traditional and trendy, sophisticated and punk. In this fascinating book, Veronica Chambers takes us inside the world of the boundary-busting new Japanese women -- the kickboxing geishas -- who are freely mixing East and West, burying stereotypes, and defining an electrifying new zeitgeist.
"Women the world over are subject to stereotypes. But few are so carelessly pigeonholed as those from Japan, put into boxes as 'exotic,' or 'submissive' or 'inscrutable,' but rarely labelled 'rounded human being.' Veronica Chambers' Kickboxing Geishas does an admirable job to change that. Based on dozens of interviews with Japanese women, she presents a layered, contradictory picture of a rapidly shifting social landscape in which women play a central and catalytic role.
While many books treat Japan as an onion to be peeled, Chambers goes about things the other way. She gradually adds layers, talking to more people and throwing in new ideas that complicate and confuse but, in the end, illuminate." -- David Pilling, Financial Times
"With compassion and warm wit, the author talks to successful Japanese women -- from hip-hop superstars to senior corporate executives and entrepreneurs -- about their education, careers, personal lives and aspirations, and about the social norms they face as they carve out a bold new existence in a country wedded to tradition. Chambers portrays her subjects as social pioneers operating in a cultural vacuum, without the support of a widespread women's movement. Writing 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, noting that 'today's young career women -- entrepreneurial, independent -- have more [in common] with their hard-working grandmothers than they do with their Bubble Economy housewife mothers.'" -- Publishers Weekly
"A charming adventure and a compelling account of cultural exploration. My own misconceptions about Japan melted away as I read this book. With vivid color, Veronica Chambers portrays a pastiche of Japanese lives: a hip-hopper, a jewelry designer, a snowboarder, a lesbian legislator, an IBM executive. She explains Japan's obsession with Audrey Hepburn, describes the blossoming sex clubs for women, and outlines why so many newlyweds get divorced upon return from their honeymoons. Kickboxing Geishas finds universal humanity in the paradoxes and vibrancy of Japanese women." -- Seth Faison, author of South of the Clouds: Exploring the Hidden Realms of China and former Shanghai Bureau Chief for The New York Times
"Kickboxing Geishas is a knockout! Veronica Chambers punches through the "shoji screen" that separates the true lives of Japanese women from the stereotypes that surround them. Her reporting is as fascinating as it is appealing, her insights as surprising as they are generous." -- Aimee Liu is the author of Gaining: The Truth About Life After Eating Disorders (2007) and the novels Flash House, Cloud Mountain and Face