This beautifully written ethnography follows the lives of two very different Japanese men entering political life in two very different communities. One is the rural leader of a citizens' referendum movement, while the other hopes to succeed his father in a Tokyo ward assembly. Fast-paced and engrossing, The Art of the Gut puts the reader behind the scenes to hear speeches, attend campaign functions, and eavesdrop on late-night strategy sessions and one-on-one conversations. In her groundbreaking analysis, Robin M. Le Blanc explores the the two men's differing notions of what is expected of a “good” man and demonstrates how the fundamental desire to be good men constrains their political choices even as it encourages both to become ethical agents. The result is a vibrant and up-to-date picture of politics in Japan today that also addresses masculine gender expectations in a male-dominated political world, the connection between gendered identity and ethical being, and the process by which men who are neither dominant nor marginal to their communities assert themselves both with and against power.
“[LeBlanc is] such a good writer that her prose is accessible, even entrancing, to mere mortals. . . . Her writing has heart. . . . Her prose simply sings.”—Japan Times
“An engrossing, fast-paced ethnographic study. . . . Highly recommended.”—Choice
“LeBlanc presents a multitude of eye-opening stories about masculinity. . . . The book is certainly a welcome addition that will stimulate further investigation and dialogues.”—Social Science Japan Journal
“Art of the Gut never fails to be eminently readable and compelling, building toward and affecting series of reflections on the qualities that drive a person to do good.”—Journal Of Japanese Stds
“LeBlanc’s book is hugely informative and instructive and exceedingly innovative.”—Gabriele Voct Journal Of Asian Stds
"Effective. . . . LeBlanc writes in a passionate yet nuanced style."
—Joel Campbell International Affairs
“[LeBlanc] displays a deep and empathetic understanding of Japan and its culture that will ensure that this work becomes widely read and appreciated outside Japan studies and political science.”—Laura Miller Men & Masculinities
"A beautifully written book, The Art of the Gut
reads as easily as a fast-paced novel. Searching beyond the formal structures, regulations, and demographic counts associated with elections to consider the potential for one man to make a difference takes LeBlanc into an investigation of codes of masculinity in contemporary Japan as she studies how these men both employ and defy these codes in their political lives."—Jan Bardsley, Associate Professor, Japanese Humanities, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill