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Family - Japanese Customs & Parenting

Japan With Kids - Forums: General Discussions: Family - Japanese Customs & Parenting


By GayleDarvon on Wednesday, March 29, 2000 - 3:01 am:

I am interested in the customs of traditional japanese families related to raising their children from birth to five years old. The roles of the mother and the father, discipline, and sleeping arrangemnets. Are japanese children put in cribs and beds in their own room or is it custom for them to sleep in the same bed with their parents?


By megan gare on Sunday, February 6, 2000 - 8:08 pm:

Hi! I have been hoping to do some research on the difference in Parenting goals/skills/styles of Japanese Parents compared to foreign parents. There is not a lot of information that I have been able to locate, and I am hoping to suppliment natural observation with some facts and cultural basis. Does anyone have any suggestions or even any observations of their own? I wonder if our home countries could benefit from the Japanese way of childrearing. What do you think? megan gare meegare[at]hotmail.com


By Cornelia on Thursday, December 20, 2001 - 9:35 am:

Since loyalty to the company is paramount, many families split up (but do not divorce) in order to keep the kids in their known and stable environment for the duration of their school years. Here is a quote from a father:

"I live in Yokohama alone now apart from my family because of my job. This is called as tanshinfunin in Japanese. My oldest daughter is 16 and my youngest daughter is 10."

Needless to say this living apart phenomenon gives the father a lot of freedom to pursue hobbies in his limited spare time since he has no further time obligation to his wife and kids. On the other hand, many of these men are in fact very lonely, and suffer from depression.

This also leads to a hidden statistic, in that a lot of Japanese households are in fact being run by a single parent (the mother). In some marriages it may be a convenient solution which does not incur the disappointment of grandparents and social stigma attached with divorce. But in others it leads to the wife's depression and also to problems with children who may not have a needed role model in place during certain developmental years.

This situation is often mitigated by the presence of one or more grandparents living with the family. There are a lot of solutions available if there is extended family. However, if there isn't, then the single parent can become very isolated. Help from non-family members is not traditionally acceptable. In the big cities, this is quietly changing.


By Tokyomama on Wednesday, June 18, 2003 - 5:42 pm:

How are kids' birthdays celebrated here in Japan? Do they invited each others to homes and have cake & ice cream? Just wondering...


By Cornelia on Friday, January 9, 2004 - 1:37 pm:

Learn something new ... every day !
Most of us know about ages 3, 5 and 7 being special (shichigosan). And 20 is coming of age. But there are other significant birthdays down the line. My student informed me of how she spent her New Year and it included a beiju birthday celebration for her father. What's that? Well, here's the story, as best as I could understand it.

"Kazoedoshi" a method of age counting. So my friend's father via "kazoedoshi" method turned 88 this year though by western calendar counting he is only 86. This is because at birth a child is counted as one year old (after only 9 months in the womb) and also at the first New Year after the birth the child is counted as 2 years old, and every January after that counts as a year older. Maybe the "kazoedoshi" age counting goes back to a time when people/culture/government did not keep track of individual birth dates.

88 is one of the special congratulations birthdays. So it calls for a big party and a lot of more distant relatives come. Other special birthdays includes the 6th decade year that falls in the same Chinese zodiac year as the year of birth. Of course there are only 10 years in the decade and 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. So if you do not have your zodiac year falling in your 6th decade... you use a different age counting method ! [And from here on the method in broken English was starting to head out towards the twilight zone (or rather my ability to comprehend).]

Kanreki means cycle. The 6th decade is one cycle finished. The birthday person wears a red jacket. Seventy is called "koki" (old and rare). Seventy-seven is called "kiju" (congratulations age -- yorokobu). Eighty-eight is beiju (rice age) which is a play on the written form because the hiragana for 88 (written vertically) and the kanji for uncooked rice ( called komei) are very similar.

By kazeodoshi counting 42 is a bad fortune year for men. There's a prevention ceremony for this year called "shijuni no yaku otoshi". For a woman the bad fortune year is 33.

Ninety is called sotsuju (graduate) which is again a play on the hiragana form of 90 and the kanji form of "graduation", sotsu.


By Renae G-S on Wednesday, July 14, 2004 - 1:51 pm:

I am an Australian woman living in Australia with my Japanese husband. We are expecting our first child.

I want to know the gift Giving traditions from grandparents for a new baby according to Japanese traditions.

I don't want to expect too much from my in-laws and seem demanding nor do I want to make them feel left out of the process of preparing for our new baby by expecting too little.

In Australia with the first child each set of grandparents usually buys one "large" item (such as a pram or cot). What are the "usual" items Japanese grandparents buy?

Also when are gifts for a new baby usually given (before or after the birth)?

Thanks in advance


By Yuko Kubota on Wednesday, July 14, 2004 - 7:07 pm:

Hi Renae,

The answer to your question might depend on the region, relationship and wealth, but with the birth rate going down, many sarcasticly talk about how grandparents spoil their grandchildren, so it's likely that before you know it, they'll start showering you with gifts, sometimes even unnecessary ones :)

That said, it is considered impolite to ask for any gift before the giver offers one. So when the grandparents say, "What would you like as a gift?" then you can tell them whatever you think is necessary, especially something you can't afford.

I don't think timing of giving the itmes is that important. Practically timing works best. Large items are best given before birth, and things like fancy clothes are best after you know the baby's gender and health condition for sure. Friends usually bring gifts after birth.

In any case, let your husband do the talking with your in-laws (his own parents), so that you can be frank to each other.

In my case, since my husband's siblings had babies earlier than us, my husband's parents said they have a used baby bed, baby chair and baby basket to offer in which we accepted and had it delivered in time for the birth.

As for my own parents, me and my mother went to Akachan Honpo, the wholesaler where you can get the cheapest baby goods in Tokyo. We bought loads of plain but practical goods like diapers, underwear, washing tools all on my parents' expense, and that was before birth.

My mother who knits, also gave me a brand new blanket, pair of socks and cardigan all hand-knit by herself, probably around the time our baby was born.

I don't remember clearly, but perhaps my in-laws brought something small and new as well, when visiting us to help around the house while I was at my parents' for a month after the birth.

So bottom line, I think you should accept whatever they insist on giving you, but you should say "no" to whatever is unnecessary for you or would be a burden for you. This "no" at this early stage is in fact important, since some folks keep on showering your house with unnecessary items. TV sometimes tells us comically about grandparents who stopped talking too each other over double-booked gifts :)

By Yuko Kubota on Wednesday, July 14, 2004 - 06:09 pm:
PS both my parents and in-laws are average middle-class Japanese. Parents are from Tokyo, in-laws were born in Fukui but based in Nagoya.


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