Week 1 Family/Gender Issues April 20-26

Conference Call: The time for the call will be arranged so that the participants will all be able to get acquainted.
Reading: 1. The Japanese Mind: Family/Gender Issues

  • Ch. 22, Pg 179-186 “Good Wives and Wise Mother: The Social Expectations of Women in Japan,” Ryosaikenbo 良妻賢母
  • Ch. 7, Pg 61-70 “Male and Female Relationships in Japan,” Danjyo Kankei 男女関係
  • Ch. 16, Pg 135-142 “Childrearing Practices in Japan,” Ikuji 育児
  • Ch. 14, Pg 119-126 The Japanese Ie 家 System

Writing: Weekly Paper: “Impressions and Points from Your Reading”

  • 1. Interact with the discussion questions at the end of each chapter.
  • 2. Discuss how these cultural characteristics might affect your ministry with Japanese people.
  • There is no minimum or maximum amount for this assignment. Use this as an opportunity to reflect and apply what you have read. This is to be written in your comment section of Japan 102.
  • Read as many of the other students’ writings and comment on at least two of them.

Pray:

  • Pray daily for Japan and Japanese, using Operation Japan. Make a note in your blog concerning the information and/or your prayer.

Extra Suggestions:

Discussion

  • 2

    What's the time difference between Japan and where you live?

    Gregg Hutton
    Reply

    We’re living here in Japan, so there’s no difference. My family lives in 3 different time zones around the world, so it’s challenging to get us all connected. Especially when the US jumps back to ‘standard’ time for a few months.

    • Riz Crescini

      Hello Gregg,

      We live in Fukuoka. Where do you live in Japan?

      -Riz

    • Gregg Hutton

      Hi, Riz. My wife and I live in southern Kyoto Prefecture, in Kyotanabe City. It’s about halfway between Kyoto city centre and Nara and 40 minutes from the centre of Osaka. It’s been growing as a bedtown for the past 20 years. Doshisha has one of their Uni campuses here and the Women’s college has 1 campus here as well.

  • 1

    Anne Crescini's Weekly Blog Week 1

    Riz Crescini
    Reply

    Hey guys,
    Every week there’s a link to “Anne Crescini’s weekly blog” but I am just now realizing it takes you to Anne’s home page and not to a specific blog post related to the week’s topic. So each week I will provide you a link to a specific blog post related to the week’s topic. For week 1, please read this blog post and tell me your impressions. The title is 女性だから or Because I’m a Girl:

    https://ameblo.jp/annechan521/entry-12351704814.html

    • Gregg Hutton

      Thanks for directing us to a post related to the weekly topic. It really helps. Her page is interesting–glad to hear she’s a dyed-in-the-wool Cards fan! I found the discussion of various vocabulary in English and Japanese very interesting.

  • 3

    Week 1: Emily's Notes on Family&Gender in Japan

    Emily Frey
    Reply

    I am excited to discuss each of these topics with my Japanese friends, especially those students who have lived briefly in the US and can share their experiences having witnessed American child-rearing and male-female relationships. So many thoughts…

    Ryosaikenbo—this concept is very similar to American mindsets during the 1950-60s where radio and television shows like Leave It To Beaver (1957-1963), Father Knows Best (1949-1960), or The Donna Reed Show (1958-1966) personified family values and roles. All of the socialization regarding Japanese children seemed similar to that in the US, based on my experiences—from dress-up dolls to mini models and mamagoto, domestic clubs and female role models. The entire concept of “good girls” is still very deeply ingrained in our culture as well. We also share a history of magazines and advertisements to set the female standard and tell us how to achieve it. We women seem to be facing the same problems in the modern world, which include facing pressure to live up to objectified physical models, taking opportunity to work outside the home, and finding a healthy work-life balance.

    Danjyo Kankei—Traditionally, male and female relationships in Japan have existed within patriarchal confines and systems. This is no different from the US, especially among Christians following a Biblical example. As I read how equal rights and employment between men and women have emerged in modern society in both countries, outcomes are much the same. Although the US is about 20 years ahead of Japan in normalizing these new changes in public and private life (based on changes in law), I do not think we are any more ahead of the curve in changing mindsets socially or keeping nuclear family units together in a healthy way. Marriage is being redefined in different ways in both countries. Its interesting to observe the effects of the emancipation of women and equal rights on family relationships, roles and dynamics. Also, observations of how men’s roles are changing is important and should not be lost. At the same time, we seem to be losing value on raising our children and preparing them for healthy futures in relationships.

    My most interesting Japan Today read was an article from April 16 entitled “Japanese firm offers spouses apartments to avoid ‘coronavirus divorce’”. Apparently, the pressures of trying to work from home with your spouse and children is too much for many couples. To creatively boost the industry, “an enterprising Japanese short-term rental firm is marketing its empty apartments as a way for stressed out couples to get some time apart during the virus lockdown”. Apartments owners have been found offering spaces for 4,400 yen per day (~$44 USD) complete with a free 30-minute divorce consultation with a legal official. Public broadcasters have been giving tips for how to avoid “potentially marriage-ending frustrations while stuck inside often cramped” apartments. Reports are that this offer has also been attracting victims of domestic violence.

    Another article from November of 2017 discusses the historic practice of batsu—marking the divorced spouse’s name with an X in official handwritten family registries. Apparently, the practice still continues today making divorce a last resort because of the “extreme negativism” and societal shaming a woman receives. The word literally translates to “strike one” or “one name struck from the register”. Many times, women feel stuck in marriages with unrelenting spouses who are cheating, beating, or excessively spending.

    The link to Anne Crescini’s blog was not valid when I was reading but I did watch her Fukuoka TEDTalk and am interested in reading some of her books. I will follow up with checking out her blog this week.

    • Riz Crescini

      Hi Emily,
      I’m glad you were able to watch Anne’s TED talk. That talk was a pivotal event and led to other opportunities for Anne to talk and share about Japanese language, worldview and culture.

      Don updated the link to this week’s “Anne” blog post. It’s titled “Because I’m a Girl.” Did it work for you this time?

    • Riz Crescini

      Emily, thank you for sharing that Japan Today piece. While this may seem incredible to our Western mindset, no one here, in general, would bat an eye. Japanese children are raised from a young age the ever-present principle of not causing trouble to others. Unfortunately, this even extends within families. Many Japanese wives are used to their husbands being gone all day at work. Husbands, too, are more at “home” in their work environment. So being home during this pandemic is a big disruption to their “normal.” Maybe you have heard of cases of divorce following a husband’s retirement from work. They just don’t know how to deal with being around each other 24/7 when for much of their married life, they have lived, in a sense, isolated from one another. We need to pray fervently for Japanese households. Pray for the Japanese Christian women who have non-believing husbands. Pray for the Japanese Christian families that they would be a light and example to their Japenese friends.

    • Linda Grimms

      Emily, good observations! And thanks for the reminder about Anne’s TED talk. I recall watching it a while ago. I wonder — Don, could you add a link to it in the 102 class materials because I would like to watch it again? It fits well with the topics in this class, as I recall.

      Emily, I think that the stress of stay-home orders probably is being seen in many cultures, with an unfortunate risk of increased domestic violence and child abuse. Interesting article that you mention, about entrepreneurs marketing space from spouses! You’re right that the readings this week help us get a glimpse of some of the cultural reasons for this heightened family relational stress.

      Riz, thanks for your encouragement to prayer — for Japanese households, for Japanese Christian women with non-believing husbands, and for Japanese Christians to be a light to their friends.

  • 2

    Thoughts about Anne's Blog Week 1

    Ethan Silveus
    Reply

    Hey there everyone! Hope you’re all doing well. I just wanted to post my thoughts about Anne’s blog real quick.

    I was pretty blown away reading this article! I didn’t realize that gender discrimination was such a huge deal! My almost immediate thought upon reflection is wondering whether or not Japanese woman are frustrated with it or not or if its just so commonplace that is enjoyed. I know that individuality and our rights are very strongly valued here in the US, but how are “individual rights” perceived in a collectivist culture? Is feminism a big thing in Japan? These are the questions that kind of come to mind immediately because I never knew there was that big of a difference!

    All around, I really enjoyed reading this blog post! It offered a lot of great insight into some more of the cultural norms, and I can’t wait to share what I have learned with my wife so that she is not caught off guard when we, Lord willing, go to Japan.

    • Riz Crescini

      Hey Ethan,
      I’m glad you are sharing that with your wife but honestly speaking, it will still catch her off guard. Ha ha ha!

      In the last twenty years, feminism has been on the increase. It’s still not a big thing in Japan but there have been pockets of movement throughout the country, especially in the urban areas. We have Japanese female friends who are frustrated with gender inequality, especially in regard to the PTA and work. In the rural areas, though, this has become just an accepted part of culture. Anne is sometimes frustrated that some of her Japanese female friends expect her to fill and carry out the woman’s “role” in society. She hates it even more that when she doesn’t, they say, “Oh, that’s because she’s a foreigner!”

      With issues like this, I think it’s important to ask yourself, “What good do I see in the culture and how can I affirm it?” Also ask yourself, “Where is my faith supracultural?” The distinction is important. H. Richard Niebuhr has a book called “Christ & Culture.” It is an excellent work on the Christian response to culture. I highly recommend it.

      -Riz

    • Gregg Hutton

      That’s a great comment, Riz, and some good questions there, Ethan. I appreciate the questions you are challenging us with, Riz. It’s easy for us to look at another culture through our own cultural lenses (people do call it a “foreign” culture) when we should see everything through a biblical lens and seek to affirm what we can in the culture, especially when we are interacting with people of that culture and definitely when we live in the culture.
      Ethan, I teach English part-time at a women’s university. There are a number of courses in several departments that are focus on feminism. I haven’t had the privilege of sitting in on them or speaking with the professors, but it does seem that it is a topic that is being promoted in the lives of young people here in Japan.

  • 0

    Response to Ethan Silvenus

    Riz Crescini
    Reply

    Hey Ethan,
    Somehow it wouldn’t let me respond to your post. So I made a separate post as a response. I hope you get to read it.

    _________________________________________
    Hey Ethan,
    I’m glad you are sharing that with your wife but honestly speaking, it will still catch her off guard. Ha ha ha!

    In the last twenty years, feminism has been on the increase. It’s still not a big thing in Japan but there have been pockets of movement throughout the country, especially in the urban areas. We have Japanese female friends who are frustrated with gender inequality, especially in regard to the PTA and work. In the rural areas, though, this has become just an accepted part of culture. Anne is sometimes frustrated that some of her Japanese female friends expect her to fill and carry out the woman’s “role” in society. She hates it even more that when she doesn’t, they say, “Oh, that’s because she’s a foreigner!”

    With issues like this, I think it’s important to ask yourself, “What good do I see in the culture and how can I affirm it?” Also ask yourself, “Where is my faith supracultural?” The distinction is important. H. Richard Niebuhr has a book called “Christ & Culture.” It is an excellent work on the Christian response to culture. I highly recommend it.

  • 1

    Week 1 blog & reading impressions

    Linda Grimms
    Reply

    I thought that Anne’s blog brought some practical examples to the concepts of family and gender in the readings. As Riz commented, in response to Ethan, it is important to ask “what good do I see in the culture and how can I affirm it?” Every culture has its lived experience of family dynamics that are good and that we might learn from. But more amazing is that YHWH God created family for His kingdom purposes – think about preserving Noah’s family, and God blessing Abraham through a family line all the way to Jesus, and Jesus being born and raised as part of a family, etc.. I believe that He can work within every cultural family dynamic to draw people to Jesus. In fact, it is vital to remember that in most collectivistic cultures (rather than the individualistic western cultures), whole families are the goal of our outreach and disciple-making. It is common for families to make decisions together, including the vital decisions about faith and religious practice – because these decisions that will impact the whole family.

    So, when I read the texts for this week and Anne’s blog, I ask myself — in light of this information, how can I engage with families in Japan? As an older woman, I specifically wonder how I might be able to connect with and develop friendships with older women in ways that honor their family relationships? As I understand it, the Japanese church often has more women than men who are active in attendance — how might I pray for and encourage these faithful women, who also live within their cultural contexts of family and gender expectations? I do not have answers, but this is the kind of questions I ask for myself.

    • Gregg Hutton

      Hi, Linda. Thank you for your comments above as well as those in Emily’s reflections. There are often more women than men in Japanese churches. Until recently, men have hardly had any time for activities outside of work. For many men, Sunday has been the only day they can catch up on sleep. The labor laws are changing–finally–and there is less pressure from above for men to go out socializing with coworkers or clients (otsukiai) after work hours. We have seen in our church that more women come to church looking for help in their relationships with the husbands, children, or with others. Aside from the lack of time, men have been more stoic and less willing to admit they need help and are in need of a savior. Please do pray for the Japanese families! Pray the Holy Spirit will work in Japanese men to show them their sin and draw them to Christ. Pray for Christian women to love their husbands and be a testimony to them through their gentle and quiet spirits that have been transformed and are being strengthened by Christ (1 Peter 1:1-4). We have several women in our church that are seeking to live their lives in this way, and we encourage them to continue balancing family culture while standing strong as believers.

  • 0

    Week 1 Reading reflections -- Gregg Hutton

    Gregg Hutton
    Reply

    In the Ikuji chapter, page 139’s question 5, the authors state “When children misbehave in Japan, parents usually say, “People will laugh at you.” In my experience here, this does happen quite a bit, and the mothers are usually the ones to say that to their child when the child is acting up or throwing a tantrum in public. The use of societal pressure in this way is a large club for the parent because most children do not like being made fun of. None of us do. Most parents have had their own experience of being the brunt of ridicule and I think, for the most part, they don’t want their child to go through that. The parent is teaching the child that the primary thing you need to change is your behavior and bring it in line with what the group or society’s expectations. This means there is no real moral standard such as the Bible. Society deems such and such a behavior is accepted or not accepted.
    Parents also will say, “I’m going to leave you here if you don’t stop this.” They start walking away from the child and say, “I’m leaving, goodbye!” and some really do keep walking, forcing the child to catch up with them. This seems to go against what the authors are saying on page 136, “Japanese mothers seemed to change their policies depending on the circumstances in order to avoid creating any mental distance from their children. They also tried to maintain affection suitable for “seep-down” upbringing.” Causing mental anguish in a child by telling him or her that they’ll be left behind creates mental distance.
    I will say that not all is “seep-down” parenting. Parents do say, “You should not do that.” and there are times it’s very direct, “Stop that!” 「やめなさい!」Parenting is certainly a challenge. My wife and I have found that prayer is a very important resource for us.

    Danjokankei
    This chapter rings true in many ways. Sadly, there is still a great deal of gender inequality. Anne’s blog showed this on a personal level, and we see examples in the media as well. Sometimes the media shows that men say things that aren’t helpful or very foolish, or at least the media portrays it that way. A number of politicians have gotten into hot water over the years for insensitive comments. The mayor of Osaka, Matsui Ichiro, made a statement last Thursday that men should do the grocery shopping during this pandemic because women take longer to shop. According to the CNN article (1), he reasoned that “Women take a longer time grocery shopping because they browse through different products and weigh out which option is best. Men quickly grab what they’re told to buy so they won’t linger at the supermarket — that avoids close contact with others.” Mayor Matsui was encouraging less social contact as a way to reduce the coronavirus spread, but it didn’t come across that way. Women shopping for groceries are planning menus, looking for good deals, and often managing the children while they’re shopping. Few men cook in Japan at home, so they tend to be poor at shopping. I’m one of those and I appreciate the challenge of shopping and cooking.
    Another interesting comment in the same English new article was this: “Japan remains a largely male-dominated society. The country is ranked 110 out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest global gender gap index. The country also ranks bottom among the G7 countries for gender equality, despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge to empower working women through a policy called “womenomics.” Prime Minister Abe has been seeking to encourage women’s roles in business and politics for the past 7 years. However, not much ground appears to be gained. Some groups are promoting the work that women are doing in corporate Japan and in the public sector, according to a Japan Times article (2). The article goes on to say part of the problem arises from negative perceptions of women in leadership roles in these areas. A survey of 1000 adults was conducted in each of the G7 countries. Results released in November of 2018 showed that just 28% of Japanese women responded they would be comfortable with a female CEO of a major corporation. Women in the US had the highest positive response of 70 percent in the same survey.
    Women often don’t get credit for all they do, whether it’s at home as a full-time housewife or working outside the home (which means they have 2 jobs) or single women working. That’s also true outside the home. We do see women in our community working hard, taking local government positions and seeking to help their neighbors and others in the city.

    (1) https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/24/asia/japan-coronavirus-osaka-mayor-hnk-scli-intl/index.html (accessed 2020/04/26)
    (2) https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/08/national/social-issues/six-years-abes-womenomics-push-women-japan-still-struggling-shine/#.XqV6LlP7SKU (accessed 2020/04/26)

  • 0

    Week 1

    tidus
    Reply

    The struggles of women in Japan continue to be a huge problem in so many ways. I’m glad that they are able to have the freedom to work and not just be a housewife their entire lives but it seems that even their careers are still a problem when it comes to being promoted into higher roles. After reading all of the chapters, I can’t help but come to a conclusion that the workforce and companies in Japan are causing a lot of problems for every individual.

    The workplaces rarely give women opportunities to advance in higher roles, they don’t quite care for husbands who have families and make them leave them for a different location to work, and in my own personal opinion, they are the reason why birth rates are declining and even prevent relationships from forming.

    If this issue is so visible and clearly everyone sees right through it, why are the Japanese people still abiding to this system? It’s a tragic to see that many people are not fulfilling their love and family lives due to such restrictions. I do have hope for the younger generation gradually separating itself from this mindset but it appears it may take too long.

    And what about the Japanese who marry foreigners? Do they escape these traditions by marrying outside of their race? Or do the foreigners have to obey them just like any other couple in Japan?