This article focuses upon the intersection of Japanese concepts of person, mind and body and ideas about senile dementia. Questions explored include: How do Japanese ideas about person, in terms of the relationship between mind and body, differ from those generally accepted in the Euro-American world? And how do these ideas influence Japanese conceptualizations of senility? I argue that gerontologists and others concerned with the treatment and understanding of senility from a cross-cultural perspective need to pay close attention to how the person, as an ontological concept of being, is perceived and constructed in different contexts. The manner in which people in different cultures conceptualize the nature of human being will inevitably have a significant influence on how they perceive and experience senility. The data for this article were collected during more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork in northern Japan.
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