Society for East Asian Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper explores social identity and gender through the rituals and exchange networks of alcohol among new Japanese immigrants (shin-issei) in a Japanese-style pub (izakaya) in Honolulu. Currently, over 18,000 shin-issei live on Oahu. Compared to the larger population of Japanese-Americans, approximately 300,000, these Japanese transnationals constitute a small, overlooked diaspora limited by cultural and economic barriers. The izakaya provides a place where identity is mediated through mutual alcohol consumption in close social groups, most notably through interaction via gift exchanges and commodity purchases. The form of alcohol rituals is distinct as it is a reconfiguration of embodied practices long cultivated in Japan, traceable to indigenous religious use and modernization near the end of the 19th century. In contemporary Honolulu alcohol becomes an object of relational transnational identities and genders situated in an increasingly commodified sociocultural space.