Get access

RUNAWAY STORIES: The Underground Micromovements of Filipina Oyomesan in Rural Japan



During fieldwork among Filipina migrants married to Japanese men in rural Nagano, stories about Filipina women who had “run away” from Japanese husbands and families in the region regularly surfaced in casual conversations. This essay focuses on both running away and stories about it as interconnected means through which these women negotiated their dissatisfactions with their lives abroad. I suggest that through such practices, these women's dissatisfactions assumed a “runaway agency” that created unsettling and, sometimes, unexpected social effects. First, insofar as running away involved “underground micromovements,” it enabled Filipina women to craft spaces in Japan outside the domestic boundaries of both the home and the nation. These “extradomestic spaces” offered at once hopeful and dangerous possibilities for building alternative lives in Japan. Second, as Filipina women who remained in rural Nagano gossiped about those who had run away, they pressured some Filipina wives into staying while encouraging others to leave. Third, running away became an unexpected leveraging tool through which some Filipina women negotiated the conditions of their domestic situations to unpredictable effect.