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Filial piety -- it's back in style

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Filial piety? In this day and age? Yes, it's back, says Aera (June 13) – in an article, however, which does not so much as mention Confucius.

China and its cultural satellites, Japan among them, were raised on filial piety, as Christians are raised on “do unto others.” Confucius (551-479 B.C.) said, “A youth who does not respect his elders will achieve nothing when he grows up.” The revolutions and technological advances of the 20th century were not kind to Confucianism. Elders no longer seemed wise, merely slow, uncomprehending and infirm. The young left them behind.

Or did they? Now, if Aera is to be believed, a reversal is underway. At a Tokyo wedding, the magazine’s reporter attended, the bride’s and groom’s mothers wore wedding dresses too – it was a marriage not just of two individuals but of two families. “What I am, I owe to my parents’ support,” said the 24-year-old bride. “I am so grateful to my parents for raising me.”

Likewise Yuka Akitaya, 26, of Fukuoka, who became a nurse because her mother was a nurse. “It was my way of showing respect,” she explains. It was more than a mere gesture. Nursing is an all-out commitment, at least when undertaken with such a motive, and her work in a hospital emergency ward wore her out to such an extent that her health broke down, forcing her into early retirement. One poignant experience that deepened her own filial sentiments, she says, was that of seeing patients die before they had a chance to do anything for their parents. Filial piety came to seem a worthy avocation. Last September she set up a website on the theme.

Parents are cool. Really?

Yes, really, say 66% of women in their 20s, according to a survey co-conducted by Aera. They meant their dads specifically, with Father’s Day just around the corner. Moreover, 49.5% affirmed they “appreciated how tough dad’s work was.”

But “parent love” – the expression is Aera’s – is not only about daughters and fathers. Wataru Horiuchi, 25, lives in Chiba but whenever he comes home to Tokyo, he takes his 55-year-old mom on a “date” – to Odaibu, Mount Narita, wherever. Horiuchi works part-time for now, but, aware that this causes his parents worry, has made up his mind to set up his own business – “a business that will make people happy,” he says.

Marketing writer Megumi Ushikubo says she began noticing and writing about an upsurge of filial affection (if “piety” is too strong a word) three years ago. Before that, she says, “you’d risk getting labeled ‘mazakon’” – somebody with a mother complex. “Lately, though, people in their 20s have drawn closer to their parents.”

She mentions several contributing factors – the recession, which forces kids to stay home because they have no money; the fact that today’s parents are probably more easygoing than any generation of parents in history; and the family’s shrinking size, leading to greater intimacy.

It’s nice, but she sees a potential downside. Does it mean grown children are too dependent on parents, financially and psychologically? Does it mean children are failing to make that leap into full-fledged adulthood?

© Japan Today

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9 Comments
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My take on this may be a bit jaded. But this sounds more like another manifestation of Japanese refusing to grow up than it does a cultural shift towards the past.

How many adults in Japan already depend upon their parents for support, housing, income and just about everything else? How many would starve on the streets without help from Mom and Dad?

Financial dependence upon parents here is pretty extreme and I am guessing some of that has to do with the filial change.

The other likely cause is that everyone in Japan has had a reminder of what is and is not important by the recent quake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. Reports of a rise in the desire to marry are likely coming from the same motivator that is drawing people back to family.

But like Tokyo's brief flirtation with energy conservation, sooner or later life will get back to the busy norm and parents, the rush to marry and energy conservation will all go out the window. Energy is already well on the way as a visit to any city center demonstrates.

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Parasaito generation leeching off their parents! Anything to avoid adulthood...

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the bride’s and groom’s mothers wore wedding dresses too

That's so sad. The bride's big day, and her mum has to try and steal her thunder. Shame on those mums.

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@cleo

I think that's the point. It's NOT the bride's big day. I'm not defending the mums, because their actions sound ostentatious and self-centred, but the idea that a wedding is the merger of two families is far more historical than our nuclear family pairing.

I don't advocate going back to paying dowries or bride prices, but my wife certainly didn't get just me at our wedding.

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Everybody knows it's the merging of 2 families that's why there is a bloomin' wedding in the first place. The couple are a symbol of that. I agree with cleo, in fact I think it is more than sad, it's sick. Yuck Yuck Yuck. Like cant the father-in-laws organize a little hoe-down for themselves or whatever, if that's what they want. Confucius just stating the obvious there, no enlightening whatsoever. YUCK

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At a Tokyo wedding, the magazine’s reporter attended, the bride’s and groom’s mothers wore wedding dresses too – it was a marriage not just of two individuals but of two families.

Stupidity know no bounds.

Likewise Yuka Akitaya, 26, of Fukuoka, who became a nurse because her mother was a nurse. “It was my way of showing respect,” she explains. It was more than a mere gesture. Nursing is an all-out commitment, at least when undertaken with such a motive, and her work in a hospital emergency ward wore her out to such an extent that her health broke down, forcing her into early retirement.

Well, at least she knows what her future is going to be like. "My mother worked herself to death, and by Jesus, that's what I'm going to do!".

But “parent love” – the expression is Aera’s – is not only about daughters and fathers. Wataru Horiuchi, 25, lives in Chiba but whenever he comes home to Tokyo, he takes his 55-year-old mom on a “date” – to Odaibu, Mount Narita, wherever.

I didn't know that being a mother's boy was a good thing now. Does he get to second base?

By the way... "Odaibu"??? Shouldn't that be "Odaiba"?

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Wataru sounds like a real mama's boy. I would be embarrassed if I were him. Shows up to work on Monday, and others ask him what he did. ...and he replies I took my mother out on a date. No office romance for him for sure.

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.... and then we went to a love hotel.

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You made me gag Ms. Legs

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