Introduction: Are Japanese Families in Crisis?

Merry Isaacs White

in Perfectly Japanese

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780520217546
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936591 | DOI:
Introduction: Are Japanese Families in Crisis?

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This chapter introduces a book in which notions of family life in Japan are discussed. The Japanese family is a patriarchal Confucian lineage family, the home is the source of respite, solace, and nurturance. Japanese feel that what does not meet the public eye need not conform to orthodoxy (the duality of tatemae and hone—ideal form and reality—excuses behavioral deviations from the norm as long as they remain private and as long as the individual or family punctiliously maintains the facade of tatemae). Unfilial individuals who, by their irregular lifestyle choices, treat the family as a pit stop for its members. Images of the selfish mother, absent father, careless children, and neglected grandparent demonize members of families who appear to be ignoring their responsibilities. Official “scripts” for family, embedded in policy statements and rhetoric in media commentary, encourage the preservation of the home as Japan's social security.

Keywords: family life; Japan; patriarchal Confucian lineage family; home; respite; social security; tatemae

Chapter.  6356 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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