Family and Kinship in Japan - Essay Example

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Japanese culture is often highlighted as placing a special emphasis on these elements and this paper explores this assumption by…
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Family and Kinship in Japan
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Download file to see previous pages The sayings, or “Analects” of Confucius were written some 500 years BC and they contain many references to the duties of parents and children, in particular stressing the duty of the young man to respect his elders (Confucius and Leys, 1997, p. 4). In those days peasant families had no social security systems or means of supporting themselves in old age, and so children were expected to provide for their parents. Japanese culture is no longer based on a peasant, agricultural economy, but in the urban centers there is still an expectation that children should respect their elders, and a collectivist approach to society which involves each family unit being responsible for their own members.
With the rise of industrial society in Japan male and female roles continued to be quite clearly segregated, so that women maintained the role of homemaker and provide care for the elders, while the men are expected to work long hours with a few holidays. A relic of older times can be seen in the way that Japanese religion has a place for ancestor worship. The Japanese Shinto religion involves interactions with kami or spirits, and these can include the ghosts of ancestors who have died. Hori noted in the 1960s that this practice is “even today, widespread and important” (Hori, p. 32) but points out at the same time that there is a difference between this kind of lowly household deity and the more absolute deities of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Japanese religious beliefs are syncretistic, drawing on many different sources for inspiration so that the same family can have a Shinto New Year celebration, a Buddhist funeral and a Christian wedding ceremony, without seeing any conflict between the underlying world views. This makes it rather difficult for researchers to work out how deeply embedded any cultural phenomena in modern Japan actually are. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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