Graduate Student Forum

Ruikatsu Activities in Tokyo: Exploring the Link between Crying and Mental Health

Tuesday, 9 March 2021 | 12:15 - 13:00 (JST)
Zoom Meeting
  • Carlota Solà Marsiñach School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford
  • Sawako Shirahase TCJS Director
Event Description

Originating in 2013, the number of ruikatsu activities in Tokyo has slowly but steadily proliferated during the past years, catering to companies and other institutions such as schools, clinics and community centres. Drawing from her yearlong fieldwork in Japan (2018-2019), my presentation will try two answer two main questions: what is ruikatsu? How and to what end is it used by individuals and institutions?

While ruikatsu is presented as an activity aiming to improve mental health by relieving stress through crying, she will argue that ruikatsu is in fact understood and used in two different ways. On the one hand, ruikatsu is used as a tool to relieve stress and thus be able to control oneself and endure in ‘normal daily life.’ On the other, ruikatsu is used to facilitate the expression of one’s honne in order to strengthen bonds with others and improve communication, be it in the personal sphere or in the workplace. In this way, in her presentation she will show how these two understandings and uses of ruikatsu reveal two competing views regarding emotional expression in Japan, and how these views are tied to broader medical and socio-political stances.