‘Tokyo Sisters’, a Radioscopic Examination of Womanhood

In this book, journalists Raphaëlle Choël and Julie Rovéro-Carrez document their interviews with around one hundred Japanese women.


WordsClémence Leleu

© Éditions Autrement

‘We don’t claim to have understood everything. One day, we’re proud to have understood one aspect of civilisation, then the next, everything is turned upside down. Knots are tied, untied, tied once more… Japan is the school of humility.’ Raphaëlle Choël and Julie Rovéro-Carrez, who co-wrote Tokyo Sisters, spent a little over a year in the Japanese capital. There, they met women from all backgrounds, and shared long conversations with them.

Tokyo Sisters is therefore a snapshot of women in Tokyo in the 2000s. Married or single, housewives or businesswomen, college or university students, or even retirees, the voices that express themselves in this book are many and varied, and each sheds new light on a different facet of Japanese society.


A portrait gallery

Tokyo Sisters does not have a sociological aim as such, as the two authors did not seek to analyse or put their interlocutors’ statements in perspective. These testimonies reveal the everyday experience of Japanese women, their vision of relationships, motherhood, ambition, their status as women, and the role that has been assigned to them by this highly patriarchal society. The texts express intimate, personal viewpoints, but ones that should be considered as they are and not as standards of what the Japanese woman could be

Tokyo Sisters is intended to be more like a portrait gallery, with each portrait providing the subject for a chapter. These snapshots of women in the largest megalopolis in the world, which can be enjoyed in succession or sifted through by the themes addressed, outline the different profiles of Japanese women. 


Tokyo Sisters (2010), a book by Raphaëlle Choël and Julie Rovéro-Carrez, is published by Autrement (not currently available in English).