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Childrearing, general

Japan With Kids - Forums: Health Topics: Pregnancy/Birth/Childrearing: Childrearing, general
By Rachel Bonjour on Tuesday, September 21, 1999 - 8:35 am:

How does the Japanese culture deliver, raise, and what do they value with pregnancy?

By Emi on Wednesday, October 6, 1999 - 5:01 am:

This is kind of a broad question! Could you be a little more specific?

By mary k on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 8:12 am:

I'm doing a project for school and i have to find out about raising children in Japan. I need like were you give birth whos in the room where babys sleep what types of games they play and anything else you can tell me. If you can help me with this i would greatly appriciate it thank you

By Rachel Kanie on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 5:39 pm:

hi mary!
i just had a baby 1 and a half month ago , if you want you can e-mail me with your Q
Rachel K

By Natasha on Friday, September 27, 2002 - 6:57 pm:

There may be some big differences in the way Japanese do these things and foreigners living in Japan do these things.
People from other cultures living in Japan tend to bring their values, habits, accepted scripts and customs with them.

For example in the United States it had become the widely accepted standard for babies to sleep in cribs. In Japan babies generally sleep with their mothers.

There are different attitudes in when to start babies on food other than breast milk, how long is a good length of time for breast feeding, and on and on. For example it has been a tradition for a long time for babies to be tied to the front or back of the mother, and this has not changed much though baby carriages are used now too by just about everyone as the baby gets older (and heavier). They even produce special coats that leave extra space so that they can be put on over the baby tied to the back of the mother.

There are a lot of options in giving birth though the great majority of births (over 98%) do take place in special facilities now instead of at home. There are hospital OB/GYN wards immitating western styles. There are birth clinics (with a doctor present). And there are midwife clinics (where a doctor is only called in if there are difficulties). In the midwife clinics you might have the option of giving birth on a futon in a tatami mat room, or on a western style hospital bed. So the current traditions are still a bit of a mix of traditional styles and western imports.

You might also try this link: which has a question form (look way at the bottom).

Also you can try this website mostly geared towards expats living in Tokyo, but with options listed that would be used by many Japanese women also:

By Mary K on Saturday, September 28, 2002 - 5:07 am:

thank you very much

By Anne on Monday, October 18, 2004 - 3:18 pm:

French Speaking Support Group

If you are a French speaking mom or mom-to-be, looking for support and friendship please have a look at our new web site:

By Cornelia on Monday, November 1, 2004 - 12:37 pm:

Gadget available here for removing "hana misu" from baby's nose costs about Y500-600. It is called a "Hana Suiki. Here's a picture:
picture of hana suiki

By Steve K on Tuesday, November 2, 2004 - 2:07 pm:

I remember all the crying and screaming from our daughter when we stuck the hana suiki's tube into her nose. It was hard for us to use because she kept moving so much. In our neighbourhood is a nose, ear and throat doctor whose clinic has a special machine for sucking phlegm and other nasties from stuffed-up kids. The machine's tube is smaller than the hana suiki's tube, but it was more effective at sucking the gunk from our daughter's throat and nasal cavities (even though one of use had to hold her tight during the procedure).

By Trupti Gandhi on Thursday, November 4, 2004 - 12:52 am:

I got the suction procedure done for my daughter for 15-20 days almost everyday... lesser as she got better... i went to a local gibikka (ENT doc) and he did it really well after me and another helper holding her tight... it was quick and her recovery was faster.
I do not have any experience with the pump... but would opt for a professional help in such cases... as a parent might hurt baby easily in the eye with such a pump... :(

By Kristen Kajiwara on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 11:25 am:

I live in Funabashi, Chiba and am looking for a housekeeper/babysitter to help out with my 3 year old while I am pregnant with my second baby. Does anyone know anyone or how I should begin my search? Thank you!

By Bethan Hutton on Tuesday, April 5, 2005 - 11:04 am:

I thought some other foreign mothers in Japan might like to read this story, from the online version of the UK Daily Telegraph newspaper. You can find the story on this site, but I think you need to register:

Godzilla versus the Tokyo supermums
By Kavitha Rao
(Filed: 29/03/2005)

When you bring up a child in a country where the birth rate is 1.33 and rapidly declining, you expect to be the focus of some attention. Still, I was unprepared for the adulation I got when I moved to Tokyo with my two year old daughter Maya.

In Japan's ageing society, children are treated like movie stars. The first Japanese phrase I learnt was "Kawaii, neh!" loosely translated as "So cute!" Shopkeepers would give her toys, old ladies would give her candy and young women would coo. Once a kindly old man insisted on taking her picture, which might be creepy in other countries but is commonplace in Japan.

When my husband took her out on his own, he would be surrounded by women amazed by this display of fatherly devotion, rare in a country where men usually leave the childcare to their wives. "Are you divorced?" they would ask sympathetically.

There's another side to all this welcome attention, and that's the pressure to be a supermum. Bringing up kids is a serious business in Japan.

Japanese children, like their parents, are incredibly polite. Tantrums in public are virtually unknown, and in restaurants you will see toddlers wielding chopsticks with perfect ease and decorum.

This is lovely for most diners - but not so great for those of us who would like company in our misery. Maya's meltdowns and her penchant for throwing food in restaurants had me cringing with embarrassment. There were times when I felt that the whole of Tokyo was staring at me.

I also found that toddlers were expected to be as clean and tidy as their immaculate mothers. Often, old ladies on the subway would sternly point out Maya's crumb-smeared mouth or runny nose.

Any self-respecting Japanese mother would have packets of tissues, wet wipes and probably even a change of clothes tucked away in her Vuitton bag. I would sheepishly wipe Maya down with my grubby sleeve.

The children at school would be beautifully dressed in pressed jeans and newly-polished shoes with matching hair ribbons. Maya would be wearing mismatched socks and the remains of her breakfast.

Their lunchboxes would be filled with healthy seaweed snacks and spinach-flavoured yogurt; hers would contain a hastily slapped together peanut butter sandwich. I often felt like I was starring in a remake of The Stepford Wives but with children.

Still, I had it easy compared to some, as I realised when a friend complained about the uniform required at her daughter's expensive private school. Not a uniform for her daughter, but one for the mothers. Apparently, mums must wear dresses or skirts when fetching their children - no jeans or trousers lest the school's "exclusive" image be tarnished.

Playing with your child isn't child's play either. At the various jido-kaikans - government-sponsored play centres - mothers gather to help their children craft, paint and listen to music.

Ah-ha, an opportunity for tired mothers to take a well-earned break, I thought. But I had to think again. I was leafing through a magazine while Maya happily messed about with paints when along came a supervisor. "You must not read here," she barked. "You must play with your daughter and show her how to paint properly."

Sometimes Japanese toys can take you by surprise too. I had to struggle to keep a straight face when my Japanese friend showed me a doll that looked like a standard baby doll, but produced a tiny plastic poo when you bent its legs. "For toilet training," she said, earnestly.

A mum in Japan also needs to be fit. With few escalators or elevators at subway stations, I had to get used to hauling my buggy and child up steep flights of stairs while negotiating crowds of commuters.

When I was expecting my second child, I began to feel even more conspicuous than usual. Japanese doctors, a notoriously stern breed, recommend that pregnant women only put on 10 kilos in their whole pregnancy. This is easy for the average slender Japanese mum, but I managed to pile on nearly twice that in the first six months.

"Oh, I am so fat," wailed the Twiggy-like mothers in my antenatal class, clutching their almost concave stomachs. Mean-while, I waddled past with my huge belly, stepping on toes and getting stuck in doorways.

To make matters worse, Japanese maternity-wear manufacturers think mothers want to dress like their babies - in pastel pink smocks covered with bunnies and teddies. My petite Japanese friends managed to look like serene Madonnas, but I felt like a massive polka-dotted Godzilla dwarfing the Tokyo skyline.

The only people who didn't notice I was heavily pregnant were the young men on the subway, who remained seated while managing to look everywhere except at my bulge. A Japanese friend told me: "Japanese women are supposed to grin and bear it."

Another friend decided to go to a Japanese midwife rather than the usual expatriate doctor. She reported gloomily that Japanese pregnancy etiquette seemed to be summed up in one word: "Don't." No chocolate, no sugar, no fruit, no dairy, no snacks after dinner, no sitting at the computer, no reading or writing for a month after the birth. But she could eat as much sushi as she wanted.

She cheated, of course, and binged on forbidden Mars bars and lattes - but still had a perfectly easy labour.

Another British friend was told by her nurse to "please don't scream so loud" when in the throes of a difficult labour. Surrounded by stoic Japanese women whimpering quietly, she felt compelled to prove that she too could keep a stiff upper lip.

We departed Tokyo before I could give birth, so I was not to enjoy the experience of having a baby in Japan. But while I am relieved not to have to endure the various trials, I also feel a pang of regret. No longer will I feel the pressure to be supermum. But then neither will I be the focus of approving looks, simply because I have a child.

My children are no longer described as "kawaai" and no one wants to take pictures of them. Suddenly we are just an ordinary family, with 2.1 kids and a mortgage. Something in me misses my adoring fans.

By Amy Uehara on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 1:43 am:

Gathering of people selling used goods, new goods all concerning childrearing and prenatal and postnatal care.
Under the name of "MOTHERING FESTA" which, in advance, I agree should be changed to "PARENTING," it is being held in Mitaka, on the 17 and 18 of March. It is sponsored by the NPO Shizen Ikuji Tomo no Kai" at:

The website for the FESTA seems to be in Japanese only, a little strange when most groups try to include people of other cultures. I will ask someone about this tomorrow.

There is a list of people and groups attending and what they are selling and what events are being held, storytelling, talks by midwives, and quite a lot.

3/17 from 10-17:00
3/18 from 10-17:00
Mitaka Sangyo Plaza, Mitaka City 3-38-4 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi
a 5-minute walk from the Station (I believe the south exit). There is a 1,000 yen entrance fee.

Here is another related site at Shizen Ikuji Community

I do not know if there will be information on homeschooling or stay at home fathers or multilingual childrearing or the things we discuss here. Will see if there could be a place of Japan With Kids or Education in Japan or Homeschooling in Japan.
It is definitely baby friendly and toddler friendly.....

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