Gender Equality in a Good Partnership

While researching the significance of being a ‘Good Wife and Wise Mother’ (ryosai kenbo) in the Japanese society, I found some noteworthy articles on this topic.

In the early 90s, I was called a ‘career woman’ for working in Japan, which occasionally came with a  negative connotation. For some, I should have stayed at home, being a ‘kanai’ (Japanese for: in-house person), looking pretty, and cooking well. And yes, maybe wearing Snoopy socks while fixing my husband’s meal.

Gender equality is far from being the norm in Japan — the country ranked 101st out of 135 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index in 2012.

For the longest time, it was the norm for a Japanese woman wanting to achieve the ryosai kenbo status in society. This has changed though. Japanese women are less likely to get married these days.

Surprisingly though, even as late as 2016, the Japanese man is still looking for these traits in a wife. If you look at the men’s expectations below, it will become clear as to why fewer Japanese women opt for marriage.

Based on this article 10 Qualities Japanese Men Want their Wives to Possess from 2016, this 10-point list really puts Japan’s gender inequality in the spot light:

——————————————-

10. She has good “money sense,” and knows how to manage the household finances. It is not acceptable if she overspends.

I want the same good money sense from my male partner too.

9. She knows how to cook well, and can make good meals for guests.

Yes, my husband can cook a good meal. Especially on the weekend, if he has time to scour the New York Times recipe section to cook something new for us.

8. She is good at housework, and can make a clean and comfortable living space.

He’s not around that much to do housework, and I work from home. I do most of it.

7. She has a successful career, and a good education.

This is a rather high demand on a Japanese man’s wish list. Have a successful career and raising successful children too..? Is the same man capable of having a good education, a successful career, and raising children on the side as well? No, these are double-standards.

6. She has a positive attitude, and speaks to people with a sincere heart.

We all like to be surrounded by people with a positive attitude.

5. She has a good character, and excellent social skills.

My husband has a good character, and since he is a working man, he also has developed good social skills.

4. She is gentle, kind, and obedient.

I like a partner with a gentle heart too, but I would not expect him to be obedient. This would not be a partnership. Definitely gender inequality.

3. She has a healthy figure. She loves sports, and is good at one sport, or can play an instrument, or dance.

Don’t overdo it here! After a full day at work, raising successful children at the end of it, you expect your partner to do sports, dance, or play music…? I’ve read the Japanese wife is supposed to bring your slippers, run your bath, and fix your meal when you come home at 11 pm. Sorry, I won’t play the Shamisen for you that late.

2. She must be nice looking, and is willing to raise children; the more, the better.

My husband is nice looking. Thank you.

1. But the most important quality is a good family background; that is what most Japanese men put as the first priority. A good family background brings lots of benefits to the future family. Well-raised kids will get along with other family members, and there will be a harmonious family life.

One of my former students in Japan told me she had to write something similar to a CV and resume before she could be asked out on a date by the man of her choice. He submitted her paperwork to his parents. When it was approved, she could go out with him.

Yes, the family background is still a first priority.

Take my input with a grain of salt, but do keep in mind that we hope for respect, dignity, and equality in any relationship.

Here I played the role of a ‘Good German’ really well: dressed in Bavarian clothing, selling German goods in a Japanese department store. These career women… 🙂

Selling German goods in Japan

More articles to read on this topic:

Three Versions of the Good Wife in Japan (article in the JapanTimes)

Joshiryoku-How is Girl Power defined (women’s ability to look after their appearance and being insightful enough to care for others by savvytokyo)

Quote of the Day

“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful”.

– Barbara Bloom –

Education in Travel

What looks like very pleasant to our eyes and inviting to our taste buds is actually meant for canine pleasures. Found this pet shop with a wide selection of canine delicacies for all occasions.

Dog food Japanese style

We surely miss all these jidou hanbaiki 自動販売機(じどうはんばいき) – Japan has the highest number of vending machines per capita around the world, averaging one machine for every 23 people. There are vending machines for hot and cold beverages, cigarettes, ice cubes, eggs, vegetables, umbrellas, beer, rice wine, instant noodles, and much more. It seems every street corner has at least one. There are close to 6 million machines throughout the country, generating a huge amount of sales.

In 2008, a smart card called taspo was implemented in tobacco vending machines to restrict sales of cigarettes. From such machines, cigarette purchases may only be made by taspo card holders, which is issued to adult applicants (in Japan,  this is 20 years of age). The card is held up to a sensor after money is inserted into the machine. Some beer vending machines also require age verification.

Vending machines in Japan

At the Fukuoka Airport, I saw a tobacco vending machine customer holding up his wallet to the sensor. He did not even have to take out his card. This looked very futuristic to me.

Japan spends  a lot of money on its conveniences, but still neglects to hire proof-readers/translators when putting information onto print.

Translation Japanese - English

The simple beauty of a stone basin and floating flower heads, as seen in Japan, inspired me to take out my Imari bowl and snap off some pansy heads from the flower box on the balcony.

Stone basin with flower heads

 

Quote of the Day

People love to be praised, so do so with all your might.

– Japanese proverb –

Even Monkeys Fall from Trees: The Wit and Wisdom of Japanese Proverbs: Vol 1 from Amazon.de

Corn Ice-cream from Korea

Around the Oberursel area, we get all kinds of ethic, exotic, and extra-terrestrial food, or so it seems. The latest contribution to my collection in tasting unusual food was this corn ice-cream.

A Korean student had brought it to the lesson, and when I saw the wrapper, I did not associate a picture of corn cubs with ice-cream. Except for that it was very cold to the touch.

Corn ice-cream from Korea

Low and behold, it did contain corn-flavored ice-cream, complete with kernels.

corn-flavored ice-cream

… and surprisingly, it tasted very good! Asians do have a knack for combining ingredients in unusual combinations, such as using vegetables in an ice-cream. The Asian market seems to be more willing to try out new concoctions.

The Japanese have a proverb – roughly translated:

If you eat or drink something you have never tasted before, you get to live an extra 70 days.

If you are in the Oberursel area and would like to try this ice-cream, then visit Handok.