Sabine Frühstück

Sabine Frühstück
PhD, University of Vienna

Professor of Modern Japanese Cultural Studies

Koichi Takashima Chair in Japanese Cultural Studies

Office: On research leave, 2023–2024
Personal Website:


Sabine Frühstück studies modern and contemporary Japanese culture and its relationship to the world. Her research has engaged several intellectual fields. Her most recent book, Gender and Sexuality in Modern Japan (2022) describes the ever-changing manifestations of sexes, genders, and sexualities from the 1860s to the present day. Playing War: Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan (2017) is a cultural history of the naturalized connections between childhood and militarism. It analyzes the rules and regularities of war play, from the hills and along the rivers of 19th century rural Japan to the killing fields of 21st century cyberspace. The ethnography, Uneasy Warriors: Gender, Memory and Popular Culture in the Japanese Army (2007) employs gender, memory and popular culture as technologies of engagement with a number of debates that centrally involve the ambivalent status and condition of Japan’s contemporary military. Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan (2003) is a socio-historical study of the creation, formation, and application of a “science of sex” from the late 19th through the mid-20th century.

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Committed to the pursuit of knowledge as an interdisciplinary and transnational enterprise, Frühstück has guest edited special journal issues of the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth (2023) and Asian Anthropology (2020), and co-edited volumes on Child’s Play: Multi-sensory Histories of Children and Childhood in Japan (2017), Recreating Japanese Men (2011), Neue Geschichten der Sexualität (1999), and The Culture of Japan as Seen Through Its Leisure (1998). Her books, articles, and essays have appeared in Japanese, German, French, Russian, and English.

Frühstück is the general editor of the book series “New Interventions in Japanese Studies” of the University of California Press and co-editor of the Journal of Japanese Studies. She has been the PI on Korea Foundation Establishing a Professorship Grant (2022–27), a Taiwan Academy grant (2023), and a Japan Foundation IPS Grant, 2019–22 (Ref. No. 10121178), and has served on the Scientific Advisory Boards of the University of Vienna,  the German Institute of Japanese Studies, Tokyo; the American Advisory Committee for Japanese Studies, Japan Foundation; an ACLS Fellowship Committee; the North East Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies; the Executive Board of the Vereinigung für sozialwissenschaftliche Japanforschung; the Board of Trustees of the Society for Japanese Studies; the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources; the advisory/editorial boards of book series on “Transnational Asian Masculinities” (Hong Kong University Press) and “Children, Youth and War” (University of Georgia Press); the advisory or editorial boards of The Journal of Japanese Studies, Japan Forum, Critical Military Studies, Vienna Journal of East Asian Studies, and U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal, and the editorial committee of the University of California Press. She has been a member of the Eisenhower Research Project at the Watson Institute of International Studies of Brown University, the chair of the Executive Board of the Pacific Rim Research Program, University of California, and the director of the East Asia Center as well as the Center for Taiwan Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Frühstück was a Japan Foundation postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Tokyo (1998-99, 2001), a University of California President’s fellow at UC Berkeley (2001-2002), an external faculty fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center (2005-2006), a visiting research professor at Kyoto University (2003), a senior fellow at the International Research Center for Cultural Studies, Vienna (2010), a visiting professor at the Deutsches Institut für Japanforschung, Tokyo, a visiting scholar in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Stanford University (2015-2016), and the 2019 Shinhan Distinguished Faculty in the Underwood International College of Yonsei University, Seoul, among other honors.

Shared Media

View videos and listen to podcasts about Frühstück’s research and teaching.

  • Cultures of Emotion in the Japanese Empire

Interview with Will Brehm about why Playing War: Children and the Modern Paradoxes of Militarism in Japan (2017) matters now on FreshEd, a “weekly podcast that makes complex ideas in educational research easily understood.”

Roundtable on “Meiji at 150 – Gendering War & Peace in Modern Japan” (Episode 21). Tristan Grunow (UBC) in conversation with Frühstück, Barbara Molony (Santa Clara University), and Hillary Maxson (University of Oregon).

The “Short(est) History of Sex in Japan” (in Japanese and German) on the Goethe Institute’s website.


Selected Articles

Courses Taught

  • Violence and the State in Modern Japan (Japan 25, lower division)
  • Sociology of Japan (Japan 63, lower division)
  • Asian Values (EACS 7, lower division, co-taught)
  • Modern East Asian Cultures (EACS 4B, lower division, co-taught)
  • Childen at War (EACS 136, upper division)
  • Representations of Sexuality in Modern Japan (Japan 162, upper division); cross-listed with History and Anthropology
  • Modernity and the Masses in Taishō Japan (Japan 164, upper division); cross-listed with History
  • Popular Culture in Japan (Japan 165, upper division)
  • The Modern Girl Around the World (EACS 166, upper division)
  • Japan Modern (Japan 226, graduate seminar on various topics)
  • Modern East Asian Cultural Studies (EACS 215, graduate seminar on various topics)
  • Freshmen and honors seminars on: Gender and Sexuality in Modern Japan, Men and Masculinities in Modern Japan, Growing Up in Japan, and History and Memory in the 20th Century.