Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy Couples in Japan?


Continuing the "Quiet" post of last week ...

I was, of course, quite curious and asked many questions about the state of "happy couples" when in Japan. Ironically - or not - an article appeared in The Japan Times shortly after our arrival ("The Truth about Japanese Love: We just don't get along" by Karori Shoji, June 18, 2012) and revealed the perspectives of at least one Japanese woman/journalist who says that there is wide unhappiness between men and women in modern Japanese relationships. 

Not my photo, unfortunately, but found at http://japanese.lingualift.com/Check out their site for simple explanations of Japanese customs and traditions.Loved reading, of course, about Valentine's Day in Japan, includingthe giri-choco (義理チョコ), or “obligatory chocolates."
She argues "Generally … Japanese women and men prefer to stick to their own genders," citing that her grandfather even used to say "that men and women should sit at the same table no more than once a week, because it led to bickering and stress." Hmmm. Interesting advice. I hear a little Dialectical Theory in there, yes? 

Shoji cites a long history of women not appreciating many of the qualities/ways/traditions of "Japanese men" going back to the first samurai to set up a shogunate who, according to historians and sociologists, was no match - despite his conniving and calculating ways - for his wife who was the ultimate victor over him and his wealth/success. As a result of women's and men's contempt/distrust/dislike of each others' ways much of the time (my paraphrase), she says women in Japan have been finding many ways to distance themselves from men. For example, an obvious/contemporary example are women-only train cars. Other examples manifest in daily practices, usually ones that are not at all subtle and reflect the gender separations of men/women in Japan: "women's" menus and feminine hotel satchels given to female guests, containing items of interest to women, of course, to comfort, beautify, and pamper. 


We didn't get to take photos of the wedding we saw,
but it looked a whole lot like this one which I
found using my handy google machine
www.bestdestinationweddings.com
Despite the news that men and women don't like/love one another according to this one article, I have asked as often as I can - casually among friends/acquaintances/hosts in Japan and before I left and after I've returned - about love/marriage in Japan. The word on the street (real scientific, I know) is that women have quite a bit of power ... mostly because most women manage ALL finances of the family. Such is a tradition that continues to this day in, as I've discerned, almost all Japanese families. 

Anyway, so much more to learn and explore. We did get a pretty cool peek at a wedding taking place at a Shinto shrine during one of our class excursions, and also observed a couple getting their wedding photos taken - they wore traditional wedding kimono - in Japanese central garden/park in Tokyo. Cool! And quite beautiful, both of those occasions. 

My naive perspective: happy couples everywhere have struggles, and some find great joy, but always with work.

5 comments:

Relationship Advice said...

This was a very interesting article. I have found that the big problem in Japan is that the couples tend to show away from relationship advice.
In most of the Western World we are now used to looking up tips or going to speak to an epxert when we are unhappy with an aspect of our relationship. My Japanese friends, both men and women, are horrified at the idea of speaking to someone about their personal life.

Grace said...

How interesting that most women are the money managers (historically and still). Hmmm!

Lord Henry said...

Carol,

You summed up so well. Yes, struggle and yes, work. But the joy these labors bring are well worth it, at least for us. However, the work is always done face to face with a lot of talking and sharing, several times a day, not once a week. In fact we quit our 9-5s to spend more time together because our marriage was deteriorating due to a lack of face time. Still, it is fascinating to see how other cultures make it work, or not.

cj renzi

cj renzi said...

More, more, for cripe sake, more! These are very good posts. Suppose you are busy researching a new post. Oh well, off to fun Friday!

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