Good Wife, Wise Mother – Women in Japan

One in five women in Tokyo has reported sexual harassment in the workplace. A survey from 2000 states that 48,7% of women have been sexually harassed either on the street or in a train in rush hour. As a solution to the problem women-only rail cars were introduced in Tokyo and other major cities.

Japan 2012
There have been a number of significant social changes in Japan the last decades. Legal equality between the sexes, as well as an increasing proportion of the women population completing higher education, are two factors that play a role in the gender role change seen in Japan today. At the same time the mindset of the more traditional gender pattern seems to be reproducing itself within the Japanese society.

Manami “Mana” Sawa (28) is a choreographer and dance instructor. She teaches children hip-hop dance, as well as other dance forms at community houses around Tokyo. She also runs the dance company Tokyo Party Time, instructing, choreographing, as well as managing thirty female go-go-dancers.

There have been drastic changes in the marriage rate, as well as a declining fertility. The dropping rate in fertility could be related to the to the increasing proportion of unmarried women in their 20’s and 30’s. Many of these so- called Sogo Shoku, or career women, live with their parents, spending their considerable income on consumption and travel.

Yuki and Mizuki are Kanako Satosaki’s (35) first priority. The translation company she works at has introduced maternity leave for women. Many women choose to leave their jobs when they get married and have children and 60% leave their job permanently after having their first child.

Uniform is required in most public and private schools. The uniform consists of a white blouse, tie, blazer with crest, and skirt for girls.

Yorie (75) has been living on the island Miyajima with her husband, Konishi (75), for the past fifty years. They run a small souvenir shop down the street from their house.

Mai Yano (21) live at home in the outskirts of Kobe with her mother, Chie, and sister, Yuki. It’s rare to move out before marriage in Japan, unless you move out due to career decisions. Her father lives and works in Tokyo, and spends most of his time there.
Mai has officially been dating Ken for about a week. He attends a different university, and they both have part time jobs, so it’s hard to find time to meet. A lot of the dating time is spent on the phone or on Skype.

Parts of the Satosaki family on their way home from kindergarden in Yoyogi park.

Kanako often worries for her children after the incident at the Fukushima power plant in 2011. She tries to get healthy food from other parts of the country, and they also have a separate water tank.
In April this year Kanako will loose her permanent employment. She wants to spend more time with her children, and her company is no longer committed to grant for her permission. She will now be one of the many women working part time in Japan.

In addition to managing her dance company, Mana loves working as a dancer in the clubs. Mana’s Japanese husband has no problems with her profession, and often comes along to watch.

A couple having a traditional marriage ceremony at the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island.

Junko Kondo (38) works as a secretary at a construction company in Kyoto. She is not married yet, and lives with her parents. Though she would like to have children, she thinks it will be too late for her to have them now.