Organized Panel Session
“Rien” (離縁), “enkiri” (縁切り), “fûfu wakare” (夫婦別れ), and “rikon” (離婚) are a few of the Japanese translations for the English word “divorce.” Yet there are subtle differences to each of these Japanese words. These differences reflect what the socially constructed institutions of marriage and family along with their breakdowns have meant at different moments in Japanese history and jurisprudence. The ideas of “marriage” and “divorce” have not necessarily followed a linear path toward increased individual liberty and gender equality. Modern changes in family law have not always been progressive and traditional practices regarding ideas about the family have not always been detrimental to the status of women. The papers in this panel will analyze how the idea of divorce in varying genres of literature (short stories, novels, and poetry), written in different time periods (Heian, Meiji, Shôwa, and Heisei), and via different platforms (from serialized newspaper stories to Twitter) is used as an artistic metaphor by some of Japan’s most famous, if not scandalous, women writers who for various reasons and in different ways exited their own marriages.