Married Women and Children Listed as Head of Household? Marriage and Household in Early Modern Kyoto Reconsidered

Mary Louise Nagata, Francis Marion University

The standard image of the traditional Japanese family is a patriarchal stem family. My research on early modern Kyoto challenges this view. For years I have been puzzled over why a child was listed as head of household despite there being co-resident adults, even adult male kin, in the household. Moreover, some of those children were girls and other households listed women as head despite the co-residence of adult males. Research in property transmission and inheritance has finally begun to provide an answer to why households listed these unexpected heads. Research on single parent households also revealed that many married couples with a co-resident parent were actually living with a single mother, rather than in a patriarchal household. This phenomenon raises even more questions about the patriarchal nature of the Japanese family system outside of the northeastern region of Japan which has been the focus of most of the other research on the Japanese family published in English. Finally, I have recently found evidence of a choice to divide the household among multiple properties instead of co-residence and this could raise questions about the stem family nature of the traditional Japanese family in the traditional capital and center of Japanese cultural tradition.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 147. Marriage Patterns around the World