Criterion Month: Nobuko Miyamoto, ‘A Taxing Woman’, and the Zany, Gendered Comic Body

This essay is by our guest writer Spencer Slovic.

The first part of Juzo Itami’s A Taxing Woman (1987) seen by most viewers is not its opening credits, but its Criterion Collection poster. Nobuko Miyamoto, star of the film, wife of the director, and the titular “taxing woman,” stares out at the viewer over a pair of reflective, leather-bound shades, framed by her flat-cut bangs and pristine white collared shirt. While the film itself, starring Miyamoto as a tax collector who ruthlessly pursues criminals and tax evaders, doesn’t fully live up to this vision of female spectatorship – Itami is too focused on the conniving yakuza and stifling bureaucracy to give the taxing woman the screen time she’s due – Miyamoto’s performance as Ryōko Itakura more than carries the load, at points strong and commanding, funny and absurd, and sometimes cuttingly perceptive into the machinery of Japanese society in the 1980s. Nominated for the Japanese Academy Prize for Best Actress eight times throughout her career, Miyamoto won the award only for A Taxing Woman, in a role described by Keiko McDonald as a “remarkably modern type of female lead” (166).

Indeed, the film marks Ryōko most notably as a female lead. Most of the other tax collectors, and all of them once she gets promoted to the national office, are male, a fact the film and its sequel, A Taxing Woman Returns (1989), comment on frequently. In her first appearance in A Taxing Woman, Ryōko and her only female coworker read Elle and Vogue at a restaurant, wearing sunglasses, counting the number of customers, watching how the waitresses process receipts, and drawing a table layout on the pages of the magazine. The trappings of gender are just a disguise for these auditors, allowing them to scope out the restaurant without a hint of suspicion from its staff. Once she’s promoted to the regional tax office, halfway through the film, almost all of Ryōko’s contributions to the investigation team have to do with her femininity: she serves salted coffee to a yakuza to get him to break the cup and force him to leave, pretends to be on a date with a coworker to detract attention on a stakeout, and points out the different necklaces worn by the suspect’s wife before and after using a bank. Her role both follows and subverts traditional gender norms, ultimately stretching the boundaries of what viewers would expect from her character, generating both humor and an uneasy awareness of social difference.

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Charles Acland poses the idea that powerful bodies on screen do not represent cultural power; in fact, they often “can be a way to compensate for the overall vulnerability people feel in a global system, hence, paradoxically, they refer to people’s sense of inconsequentiality and puniness” (38). As someone with a relatively small body, often standing a head below everyone else on screen, Ryōko might represent the opposite; a vulnerable body who harnesses the power of a social system to support and protect herself. In A Taxing Woman Returns, to take the most literal example of this protection by the system, she persuades a yakuza henchman to give up on stabbing her by telling him the possible punishments and prison terms that could result from his attack. The disjunction between her cultural power and her diminutive form lends a sense of gleeful danger to her pursuits, and often generates comedy along with it. Her primary rival in the film, the tax-evading hotel-owner Gondō, also possesses a body unfit for the cultural role he inhabits; with one disfigured leg, he leans on a cane and walks with a large limp. Unlike Ryōko, however, he harnesses his social power through the yakuza, the Japanese mafia that functions as the organized, anti-governmental force of the film. These mismatches between the actors’ bodies and the filmic or cultural roles they inhabit generate humor and challenge conceptions of that role that create the cultural “norm.”

Throughout her career, Nobuko Miyamoto embodies a range of female characters with varying levels of agency and empowerment in the shifting Japanese landscape of the 1980s and ’90s. Many of them are strong and socially savvy, like the taxing woman, although this empowerment is nearly always channeled into comedy. Whether that’s a positive or negative way to deal with anxieties around the rapidly changing Japanese society of the 1980s and ’90s is up for debate, but to look at Miyamoto and her body of work charts a bold blueprint for the creation of a new, “remarkably modern” Japanese woman. Starting with the role of the body in comedy, then moving on to gender in Japan, and finally the taxing woman’s place in the affective economy of late capitalism, I’ll explore how Miyamoto both carves a new path through society for the Japanese “modern woman” and also represents the anxieties and fears of both women and men in the shifting cultural environment of the late 20th century.

Gender in Japanese Art: Miyamoto’s Early Career

It takes a while for Miyamoto to grow into her niche as the female protagonist of Itami’s films. The two met as film actors in the ’60s, and after marrying, Miyamoto stayed home with their sons while Itami pursued his directing career in TV documentaries (Sragow). Once he became a feature film director, though, Miyamoto was back to acting. In their first collaboration, The Funeral (1984), a droll comedy about funeral preparation, Miyamoto plays the daughter of the deceased and wife of the leading male protagonist. Although she’s one of the main characters, Miyamoto’s role in the film doesn’t deviate much from that of the loyal housewife and devoted, albeit modernized daughter. She gets a little more range in Tampopo (1985), a major hit both in Japan and internationally. As the title character, the owner of a failing restaurant outside Tokyo, Miyamoto plays a “more American” type of character who goes after what she wants with a little humor (Sragow). As she tries to become the best ramen chef in Japan, Itami surrounds her with a colorful cast of characters, all men, to make her an expert in noodle preparation, broth brewing, restaurant design, etc. While many critics praised Miyamoto’s performance, comparing her with Ozu’s primary actress Setsuko Hara, her character never gains complete agency in the film, following her ramen-making male mentors’ advice in a Rocky-esque training narrative without exerting too much resistance to the traditions and standards of cooking cultivated by this male-dominated society.

A Taxing Woman is the film where Miyamoto asserts herself as the clear lead. McDonald writes that Miyamoto’s taxing woman character is as far as possible from the typical female figure of Japan’s “golden era” of cinema in the ’50s, epitomized by the silent sufferers in the work of Kenji Mizoguchi, or the destructive and masochistic women in the films of Akira Kurosawa (169-70). These women, “doomed to make good on youth and beauty while they last” (170), are a far cry from Ryōko, who wears pants, drinks, smokes, is told multiple times that she has bedhead from staying up too late working, and stands a head shorter than any other woman in the film under the age of 65. According to McDonald, the only thing keeping Ryōko from being a complete satire of “the Japanese postwar obsession with money and success” is her lack of sex appeal (171).

A bit of art history helps when placing A Taxing Woman in the context of Japan’s treatment of labor and gender. In her seminal essay “Gender in Japanese Art,” Chino Kaori describes how Japanese notions of femininity and masculinity, dating back to the Heian era, are constructed within a “double binary” created by the coexistence of indigenous “Japanese” culture and engagement with a “foreign” Chinese or other Asian-ness (Kaori 22-3). The Yamato (indigenous) identity could adopt and incorporate aspects of other cultures without threatening its own construction, although in accordance with the masculine roles assigned to Chinese character-writing (kanji) and the feminine use of Japanese characters (hiragana), masculinity was responsible for dealing with the foreign Other while femininity was afforded the role and keeper of “true” Japanese culture (24-6). Thus, up until WWII, Japan has been in the historically unusual position of valuing “femininity” in art as an assertion of its national identity, leading people in positions of power to try attaining the “feminine” skills of fine art throughout history (30). Actual women, on the other hand, were strongly confined to the interior of society, a pattern that continued throughout the “masculinization” of Japanese men in the Meiji era (late 19th century) until World War II.

The Funeral shows the early Itami negotiating between this new Japanese society and the traditions of the old, as Miyamoto’s character and her husband are forced to watch an informational video to figure out how to conduct the funeral proceedings. Tampopo’s plot structure and visual references, which include a truck driver in a cowboy hat and a merry gang of Depression-era hobos, seem lifted right from the annals of American cinema, which puts its titular ramen chef in the same realm as the career-focused female characters of Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday (1940) or Katherine Hepburn in The African Queen (1951). A Taxing Woman, then, is the story of the increased tendency with which Japanese women took on careers in the 1970s and ’80s. In Ryōko’s first interaction with Gondō, he marvels at the fact that the tax bureau sent a woman, saying, “That’s a relief.” Ryōko immediately stares him down, asking, “What do you mean by that?” While she’s a near-perfect model for the working woman, doing her job better than anyone else, she still sticks out as an outlier in this business world: as a body both foreign to its setting and negligent of its traditional role in society.

While Ryōko makes several references to her five-year-old son, he’s never seen on screen and doesn’t play a major role in the plot, besides one scene where Ryōko walks him through making a microwave dinner over the phone, and another where yakuza intimidate Ryōko by threatening him (although nothing ever comes of it). Gondō, a father himself, sees her as a potential love interest, a plot thread that runs through the whole film but Ryōko never latches onto because she’s so focused on her job. Itami seems to have constructed her as an example of how a woman can exist in the workplace, and also as emblematic of the Japanese male’s anxieties around having their homosocial world invaded by the feminine. “You act nice, but you’re a heartless bitch!” shouts one elderly shop-owning woman at Ryōko early in the film when she fines a family convenience store for failing to report their own consumption of goods. The taxing woman, tiring and unimpeachable, follows every rule to the letter but has somehow lost her feminine empathy in the process.

The largest character arc in A Taxing Woman is Ryōko’s growing empathy for those she investigates; her walking with Gondō’s son through a field represents the emotional peak of the film, and provides it with one of its only moments of tranquility. This character growth seems secondary, however, to the satire of Japanese bureaucracy, and is forgotten altogether by the time of A Taxing Woman Returns, which has almost no character growth for Ryōko besides her increasingly zany ways of rooting out tax evasion. The taxing woman’s actions in society compensate for the past portrayals of women in Japanese cinema, but sometimes seem to overcompensate, portraying this radical femininity in a hyper-intense, almost zany comic mode that brings a single-minded, almost angry approach to her role in capitalist society.

On Humor: The Misaligned Body in Comedy

In his comedy studies book On Humour, Simon Critchley writes that humor “functions by exploiting the gap between being a body and having a body” (43). “If we laugh with the body,” he writes, “then what we often laugh at is the body, the strange fact that we have a body. In humour, it is as if we temporarily inhabited a Gnostic universe, where the fact of our materiality comes as something of a surprise” (44). There are many different types of humor, and one of the hardest tasks in dramatic writing is getting someone to laugh, but most forms of humor involve some sort of coming to terms with the real and physical condition of the comic body. In screwball or situational comedies, much of the humor comes from a surprise at the body’s positioning, its physical presence forcing it to interact with people it doesn’t necessarily want to at that moment. Self-deprecating jokes and morbid gallows humor reminds us of the weakness and mortality of the body. Slapstick and scatological humor beats up on the body, surprising us with the fact that any consciousness, no matter how strong, can be incapacitated by a blow to its body.

The humor in A Taxing Woman, and in many of Itami’s other films, relies on this discrepancy between the actor’s being a body and what might be the cinematic equivalent of having a body: the character role. When caught in close-ups, or entranced by her deft knowledge of the tax and legal codes, we forget about Ryōko’s physical presence; her meekness and femininity in the violent and gendered world of organized tax evasion. So when an angry casino owner pins her to the wall and she helplessly fights back, or when Gondō throws bed sheets on her to test their colors, treating her like he treats the women who aren’t investigating him for tax fraud, the physical body of Miyamoto comes as something of a surprise. A different type of humor comes from Ryōko’s ability to inhabit this number-crunching role in society, despite what might be seen as her bodily shortcomings. The first time she and Gondō meet, the hotel-owner tries to tear Ryōko’s tax bureau badge out of her hands. The badge stops mid-swipe, secured to Ryōko’s neck by an elastic band. “First time I’ve needed that elastic band,” Ryōko says, regarding him with suspicion, to which an impressed Gondō replies, “You’re more of a pro than you look. I like that.” This difference between the way a character looks and the way they act provides much of the comedic value of this and other Itami films.

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Most of the time when writing a screenplay, the screenwriter has no idea what body will actually fill the role described on paper. Those casting the film will find the actor whose body and personality most comfortably fits the general, cultural assumption for that role – think John Wayne’s body in the role of the lone cowboy, or Marilyn Monroe as the young ingénue. The body befits the role, and there’s no tension between the two – in other terms, the casting is “believable.” It’s when the body on screen doesn’t fit with the cultural imagination of a role that a productive or detracting friction appears.

Miyamoto, whose presence as the taxing woman at every moment on screen challenges the supposedly “believable” construct of a dull man in a suit, is far from the only actor to embody this role of the bodily misfit. Melissa McCarthy challenges it in her film Spy (2015, dir. Paul Feig), in which she plays a CIA secretary-turned-secret-agent in a film that feels similar tonally to A Taxing Woman. The awkward tallness of Jacques Tati and John Cleese mark their bodies as comedic outliers, as noted by Critchley: “One thinks of Monsieur Hulot’s visible disconnection with his body, exacerbated with its short, ill-fitting raincoat, too-short trousers, and trilby, all of which merely emphasize his strangeness with regard to the world in which he finds himself” (44). The body miscast by fortune or chance in the “wrong” cultural role also appears in drama, like Peter Dinklage’s royal duties in Game of Thrones. While these actors are prestigious and famous enough to generally have roles tailor-written for their bodies, other times the friction happens through the serendipity of bad casting. In The Room, Tommy Wiseau tries to play an all-American, James Dean greaser type (in his own words). Critiques of his casting – of himself – tend to reveal the biases functioning in our archetype of the “all-American” figure. His body is too old, his musculature too grotesque, his accent too foreign to be the protagonist of a standard romantic drama without addressing any of these things on screen (an inquisition can be made into similar critiques of the practice of “colorblind” casting in American cinema, which assert that ignoring the mention or implications of race, gender, etc. in a role is the same as writing for whiteness; but that’s a subject for another essay).

The bodies of Nobuko Miyamoto and Melissa McCarthy don’t function by acting like a normative male body would in the same position, but stick to their personal strengths and styles to succeed in their male-dominated fields in funny, unexpected, and creative ways. Their bodies are funny because they don’t fulfill the expected role of a woman in society, much like the comic archetype of the “unruly woman” described by Katherine Rowe. These “unruly women” create disorder by dominating men, possess an excessive or fat body, talk too much, make jokes, associate with dirt, taboo, looseness, age, etc., and are funny because of the bold forthrightness with which they decline the cultural role offered to them by society because of their bodies. Although Miyamoto and McCarthy aren’t necessarily “unruly women,” they too carve out their own roles in society by using their bodies to demolish whatever roles are placed before them.

In beginning his chapter on the body and comedy, Simon Critchley writes,

Humour effects a breakage in the bond connecting the human being to its unreflective, everyday existence… When I laugh or just smile, I see myself as the outlandish animal that I am, and begin to reflect on what I had previously taken for granted. In this sense, humour might be said to be one of the conditions for taking up a critical position with respect to what passes for everyday life, producing a change in our situation which is both liberating and elevating, but also captivating, showing all too clearly the capture of the human being in the nets of nature (41).

The classic theory of humor proposes that laughter and irony distance the self from the object of study, much as Critchley writes, allowing for the potential of change. While other scholars like Slavoj Žižek have different interpretations, such as the concept of “totalitarian laughter” in which humor identifies deviations from the social norm as being absurd, bodies and their narrative and cultural roles still make noticeable the existing social expectations and norms, leading to delight and wonder in the world that could be.

Bureaucracy, Neoliberal Capitalism, and the Zany’s Illusion of Effecting Change

Where Yasujiro Ozu’s critique of gender roles and expectations in Japanese culture finds its most fertile subject matter in the family, Itami finds his sharpest satire in the social institution. The idea for A Taxing Woman grew out of Itami’s direct experience with the Japanese tax system after his success with The Funeral, and his own writing on Japanese bureaucracy makes it clear that the director is no fan. Before his premature death in 1997, Itami wrote a foreword to the book Straitjacket Society, a scathing non-fiction critique of the bureaucratic system in Japan that makes it impossible to get anything done, according to the book’s author. Itami grounds the book’s personal business anecdotes in the history of Japanese government, starting with the US occupation and American-written constitution implemented after World War II. While the new bureaucratic system worked well for Japan to “catch up” to the rest of the world economically, Itami writes that its now-obsolete policies are holding the country back. “Counterproductive when dealing with matters of the spirit,” depriving society of its “natural flexibility,” and anti-democratic in that inefficient bureaucrats can’t be voted out of office (13, 14), the Japanese governmental system is fundamentally flawed, in Itami’s view.

Nobuko Miyamoto’s turn as the taxing woman acts on one level as a free-market fantasy of a character able to cut through bureaucracy, accomplishing tasks with personal style and swagger that affect actual change in the world; on another level, Ryōko sticks to the rules more stubbornly than anyone. In Our Aesthetic Categories, Sianne Ngai outlines three non-theological “aesthetic categories” of postmodern culture: the cute, the interesting, and the zany. While Ryōko’s Japanese-ness and petite femininity may make the instinctive category for her character the “cute,” her steadfast commitment to her job and the increasingly ludicrous methods she uses to do it place her in the zany, “the only aesthetic category in our repertoire about a strenuous relation to playing that seems to be on a deeper level about work” (7). By injecting matter-of-fact work with the style and cleverness of emotional labor, zaniness operates under a “connexionist” ideology of capitalism that encourages workers to “bring their abilities to communicate, socialize, and even play to work” (8). “Unusually flexible or capable of fluidly switching from task to task,” the zany figure is always working, as with Ryōko in A Taxing Woman. Ngai traces the historical roots of the “zany” figure to the Zanni, a stock character of the commedia dell’arte who was ridiculously awful at tasks, untrustworthy, and merited laughter at their attempts to succeed (14). Ryōko embodies the zany qualities of Ngai’s main example, Lucille Ball, yet turns this incompetence on its head and succeeds not in spite of her qualities as an individual, but because of them.

When Ryōko is first introduced to her boss at the regional taxing office, he exclaims, “We needed a female agent. They’re very rare. She’ll be a great help!” Her knowledge of female habits and anatomy proves instrumental for the bureau in exposing their targets’ tax fraud, but also represents latent male anxieties in the shifting landscape of gender in 1980s Japan. Returning now to the scene where an older woman calls Ryōko a “heartless bitch,” the taxing woman embodies not only the loss of female “empathy” that kept women confined to the home, but also the fear of the male workers in adopting an affective style of labor that requires more of them than simply following the rules. Ngai genders zaniness female, in that late capitalism feminizes laborers by requiring affective and emotional work increasingly more than physical effort (208-9). The taxing woman, then, is the impossible illusion of the perfect worker under neoliberal capitalism, she who uses the full force of her mental and stylistic strengths to bend the world toward a similar aesthetic. Ryōko scolds a younger male worker who gives away his ignorance by asking for a client’s address over the phone; the zany worker must be constantly vigilant. Ryōko wears multiple disguises, digs through trash bags in the rain, raises a child on her own and spends multiple nights in the office; the zany worker must wear many hats and adapt to many roles. Ryōko seduces Gondō to get his personal information but does not fall for his romantic whims; the zany worker must use their emotions to manipulate the emotions of others.

Ngai writes that the satirical feminist book project Living it Up has a “particular way of highlighting the link between ‘women’s work’ and virtuosic labor as precisely a link that has made little difference in mitigating the intensity of the former… the zany is not just funny but angry” (218). Miyamoto’s often-angry performance as Ryōko, her stern seriousness at her job, seems funny to the outside viewer but portrays an intense frustration at the closed and single-minded world in which she operates. The zany collapses any distinction between work and play, not only injecting play into work, but also bestowing play with a furious intensity that mirrors the labor involved at work—what might now be called a “work hard, play hard” philosophy. Throughout the 80s, the “virtuosic,” affective labor of service and business jobs expanded to Japanese men, creating anxieties that are then redirected through the zany figure of the Taxing Woman; a woman who both taxes and tires, physically and emotionally.

Let’s say that the originating figure of the Zanni holds some truth for the working man in postmodern society: a character hopelessly incompetent at adapting to new tasks, looking up to the “zany” females who can harness the force of their personalities to succeed. Gondō is a good example of this: a man so obsessed with his intricate web of business relations that he neglects his own son, who raises money at school so he can get an operation for a sinus condition his father doesn’t even know about. After Ryōko overhears all this in an argument between the two, she has to chase Gondō’s son down and talk him into coming home, restoring order in the family. A bit later, while being interrogated by the tax bureau chief, Gondō muses that the best way to make money is to save it. “Say you give 10,000 Yen at a wedding, 20,000 at a funeral. You’ll never save that way,” says Gondō, proving domestic conventions to be the area he’s neglected in his Fordist, economic-miracle-era style of capitalism.

Though the figure of the zany seems to be constantly working, with more effort and cleverness than anyone else around them, ultimately it is to no avail. Ryōko could get her job done just as well without resorting to these ridiculous tactics; she might not catch the biggest fish of tax evasion, but the system can’t catch the biggest fish anyway. The fact that the tax bureau ultimately succeeds in both Taxing Woman films shows that there’s not only a sense of anger involved in the zany, but also one of idealism; an idealism deeply rooted in the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps ideology of early-to-mid capitalism. This is the steadfast belief that a hard-working individual can move up through the system in accordance with their merit; an ideal that hard-working, moral individuals can change society for the better. The zaniness of Juzo Itami and Nobuko Miyamoto in A Taxing Woman doesn’t deny the possibility of that ideal, but does imply that a fair and equal society can only be created without the stifling bureaucracy of modern-day Japan. When the system locks power and labor relations so firmly in place, the zany, creative, hard-working character can really do little to effect societal change.

Conclusion: Money and the Aging Star

Social conventions and the bonds of the family are ultimately reaffirmed in the early films of Itami, although in an abstract, monetary logic of connection. Tampopo ends with the ramen-making “family” of Tampopo and her mentors having crafted the perfect restaurant, all the pieces working together in harmony. A Taxing Woman ends with a meeting six months later between Gondō and Ryōko, with the combination and location of a crucial safety deposit box still missing from the investigation. Gondō asks Ryōko to come live with him, to which she shakes her head “no,” but Gondō gives her the box’s location anyway, cutting his finger open and writing the combination on Ryōko’s handkerchief in blood. What would typically be a sign of devotion or kinship is now a transaction of knowledge—family ties in late capitalism are forged through currency and exchange, rather than blood and emotion.

Miyamoto’s comic body, too, comes to inhabit a different role in her later career. She displays an increasing knowledge of her body, its advantages and shortcomings in society, throughout her later films with Itami. In Minbo: The Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion (1992), she revels in her knowledge of the yakuza and how to manipulate them as a hired hand by a hotel looking to clear its lobby of extortionists. In 1997’s Woman In Witness Protection, her last film with Itami, Miyamoto parodies herself, playing a rich, aging actress thrust into police protection after witnessing a murder. While her character has affairs and other personality flaws, she overall seems settled into and comfortable with the role her body has afforded her in society. The physical reality checks of her body’s size and gender, which come from the yakuza trying to keep her from testifying at the trial, are a large part of the movie’s plot, but unlike in her earlier films where they seem like fundamental character flaws, here they are written off by the actress as things that happen in the world that she can’t let slow her down (which makes the police officers protecting her struggle to keep up). Miyamoto doesn’t change much about the way the world works—her films are still populated by frauds, cheats, and yakuza—but she carves out her own niche in that cycle, adapting her characters to the nature of her stardom, her gender, her privilege and her age.

The most curious, or perhaps most banal, aspect of Nobuko Miyamoto’s career is her working relationship with her husband, Juzo Itami. From all perspectives, interviews, and anecdotes, the two seem to have collaborated strongly in their movies, with Itami creating films around her acting and star text. Unlike the dynamic between director Federico Fellini and actress Giulietta Masina, who repeatedly portrayed the same “waifish” figure in several of Fellini’s films, Itami didn’t pin his wife into one type of role because of her body. Instead, Itami’s films sometimes pivot on the fact that Miyamoto seems out of her element as an actor, playing off that disjuncture for humor. The actor and director dynamic, wife and husband, seems similar to that of the body and the state; a body adapts, behaviorally, to fit its surroundings, creating roles for itself within the realm of possibilities engendered by the “state.” While Itami let Miyamoto vary her roles, many of them still come down to the director’s obsessions, the metrics by which he values society and society’s potential for change: social institutions, the minutia of money and taxes, the practical carrying-out of rituals and traditions that have been around for centuries. Whether Miyamoto’s body fits into that is the job of the actor: to mold a body to fit a role, to angrily embody its zaniness, to exaggerate or challenge its notions of gender. Change may be an illusion, but Itami’s films tell us that Miyamoto was here, that she fought, and that she found a way to exist in a world that didn’t necessarily have roles already cut out for her.

 

Works Cited

Acland, Charles. Screen Traffic: Movies, Multiplexes, and Global Culture. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

Critchley, Simon. On Humour. London; New York: Routledge, 2002.

Kaori, Chino. “Gender in Japanese Art.” Gender and Power in the Japanese Visual Field. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2003.

McDonald, Keiko. “Satire on Contemporary Japan: Juzo Itami’s A Taxing Woman(1987).” Reading a Japanese Film. University of Hawaii Press, 2006, pgs. 165-175.

Miyamoto, Masao. Straitjacket Society: An Insider’s Irreverent View of Bureaucratic Japan. Kodansha International Ltd., 1994.

Rowe, Katherine. The Unruly Woman: Gender and the Genres of Laughter. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995.

Sragow, Michael. “Juzo Itami and Nobuko Miyamoto’s Creative Marriage.” Criterion Collection. Video, 2017. https://vimeo.com/247208706

Žižek, Slavoj. The Sublime Object of Ideology. London: Verso, 1989.

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