The Japanization of wife and whisky in NHK’s morning drama Massan | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2051-7084
  • E-ISSN: 2051-7092


The story of NHK’s morning drama (asadora) Massan (2014–2015) is loosely based on real events. It depicts the lives of the Japanese whisky pioneer Massan and his Scottish wife Ellie in pre- and post-war Japan. Ellie assimilates and grows into the role of a perfect Japanese ‘good wife and wise mother’, while Massan fulfils his dream and succeeds in producing the first authentic whisky made in Japan. Approaching the series’ narrative from the perspective of multiculturalism, I argue that the series falls into the trap of representing the heroine as a stereotypical foreigner, resembling figures who perform their otherness in Japanese TV shows. Furthermore, when one considers Massan’s whisky entrepreneurship as a symbol for Japan’s postwar economic success, the series reflects several tropes of national ideology such as the belief in a unique Japaneseness. Thus, I suggest that this morning drama establishes an imagined and exclusive national community for its audience, in which a serious discussion of multiculturalism and foreigners living in Japan remains absent.


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