An ethnographic look at grieving, giving, and growing older.

click image to order from Rutgers University Press. Available January, 2015

click image to order from Rutgers University Press.
Available January, 2015

"Aging and Loss is a mournful book that treats loss as both a space of emptiness and a temporality of creativity. Achingly beautiful about aging and death in a country where both are rising today."

Anne Allison, author of Precarious Japan (Duke University Press 2013)

"Jason Danely’s book represents an excellent contribution to our understanding of aging in Japan and provides an important exploration of the intersection of religion and aging."

John W. Traphagan, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Texas Austin, Author of Rethinking Autonomy: A Critique of Principlism in Biomedical Ethics (SUNY 2013)




Based on nearly a decade of research, Aging and Loss examines how the landscape of aging is felt, understood, and embodied by older adults themselves. In detailed portraits, anthropologist Jason Danely delves into the everyday lives of older Japanese adults as they construct narratives through acts of reminiscence, social engagement and ritual practice, and reveals the pervasive cultural aesthetic of loss, burden, abandonment, and hope.
This is the first volume in the new series, Global Perspectives on Aging, edited by Sarah Lamb (Brandeis) and published by Rutgers University Press.

From the reviewers

"Devoid of academic jargon, Aging and Loss addresses several key theoretical questions in anthropology today. Its elegant prose makes it accessible to wider audiences, attesting to the power of ethnographic storytelling as a form of knowledge-making."

--Anthropological Quarterly

" A gracious, observant, and sensitive ethnography. Jason Danely contemplates the experience of aging, mourning, and memorialization in Japan. Danely is interested in capturing the texture of these experiences: the space that loss creates, incompleteness, transience, hope, giving things up, and finding new clarity. This aesthetics of loss has its context in the broad repercussions of Japan's declining population—closed, vacant schools; inadequate welfare support; and the loss of traditional values."

--American Ethnologist

"Danely tackles the complex topic of aging and loss with a great sense of tact and sensitivity. He addresses the topic by employing a skillful analysis of folk stories, films, and delicately conducted interviews … Far from being dry ethnography, this book is written in a poetic and emotive voice. Yet the pictures of aging in Japan are far from overly optimistic."

--New Asia Books

"Aging and Loss is a beautifully written piece of work that could be enjoyed from multiple perspectives beyond the lenses of anthropology or Asian studies. The fact that the stories took place in Kyoto - an ancient capital and the heart of Japanese traditional arts and culture - will further instill interest among those curious about the rich culture, nature, and changes challenging the city."

--American Anthropologist

"The in-depth stories and analyses of this interweave with theoretical reflections resulted in a rich ‘‘story,’’ which is both an academic study and a piece of fine art"

--International Journal of Aging and Later Life