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This article is based on a larger ethnographic project that examines the construction of gendered identity within a Japanese men’s rowing club. For members, notions of masculinity and Japanese identity converge to the point of naturalization. The embodied experience of being a rower is underpinned by the cultural artifacts of hierarchy, social positioning, and group membership. Membership in university rowing clubs somatizes and naturalizes the valued characteristics associated with salary-man identity (duty, loyalty, self-sacrifice, mental and physical endurance) to the point of common sense. The resultant masculine identity is congruent with forms of hegemonic masculinity that are critical for successful employment in company-centered Japan.
The author is with Human Movement, Recreation and Performance, Victoria University, Footscray Park, PO Box 14428, Melbourne, Victoria, 8001, Australia; firstname.lastname@example.org