This book presents a wide-ranging study of widows in Japan filtered through the dramatic and complex intersection of women with death. These experiences are portrayed as intensely personal and yet foreshadowing momentous societal ramifications. The work represents years of research, numerous personal interviews conducted throughout the country, and reflects not only historical and current perspectives, but also the diverse voices of widows who participated in the research. Widows provide a point of focus for a multi-level analysis through the exploration of the inner-workings of the state, the family and the social relations of gender. The lives of widows are examined as they are shaped by kinship and gender ideologies, class, transformations in language and most dramatically war.