The case of Japanese otona ‘adult’: Mediatized gender as a marketing device

Judit Kroo, Yoshiko Matsumoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This study considers food commercials featuring the term otona, meaning ‘adult, mature person’. Although the term is not explicitly gendered, this study demonstrates that food advertising using otona becomes a conduit for the construction of gendered lifestyle formulations via consumption practices offering consumers entrance into a range of gendered adult life stage practices. Unlike the socially aspirational consumption practices described by Agha, the consumption of inexpensive otona-marked products, which cost the same as their non-otona-marked counterparts but are intended by commercial producers to be viewed by prospective consumers as more mature, is linked to the process of entering adulthood. However, whereas male performance of otona masculinity is shown in the commercials to be based on psychological maturity and economic and social independence, female performance of otona femininity is determined by the commercial producers and the product manufacturers to be based on successful performance of external beauty, sexuality and support of male social sphere members. This article shows how otona becomes a catch-all for aspirational gendered performance, arguing that terms like otona are particularly suited for normative gendered performance presentations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-423
Number of pages23
JournalDiscourse and Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Advertising
  • Japanese
  • commodity
  • critical discourse analysis
  • femininity
  • gender ideology
  • lifestyle practices
  • masculinity
  • mass media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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