When it comes to families in Japan, those hallowed traditions certainly aren't what they used to be.
Spa magazine featured six titillating pages on the topic of "sexual outsourcing," which it explained is "the new paradigm for sexless couples." And which, in the case of wives, bears their husbands' seal of approval.
Gleaned from the "confessions" of the featured parties were a wife who meets with her hubby's former classmate four times a month for sex; a newly married wife who recruited a partner from a bulletin board on the web for engaging in "SM play"; discrete swapping between married couples, arranged through a matchmaking site; and wives who seek satisfaction from commercial sex services that cater to females.
"Along with women's advancements in society, the days when married women remained cloistered in their homes are over," says Rika Oizumi, a prolific author of erotic fiction and manga novels. "More recently such themes as 'how to relieve one's sex urges' are openly discussed among women, and the barriers against sexual outsourcing have been lowered. Borne by the winds of diversity, rapid growth in the availability of such tools as SNS, matchmaking apps, sex service businesses for females and so on are facilitating openness that foments change."
Three weeks later in its Oct 25 issue, Spa highlighted several other examples of "family diversity."
The most excessive of these, at least in terms of chafing the Judeo-Christian mindset, is polygamy. We have no idea how common this practice is in Japan, but Spa claims to have tracked down a 35-year-old gent named Haru who has not two, but three wives.
Seven years ago, Haru took a woman (unnamed in the article) several years his senior as his lawfully wedded spouse. Their union produced a son, now aged six. Subsequently along came a common-law wife, Satoko (a pseudonym), presently aged 27, who was followed by a second common-law wife, Chie, 28.
A closeup photo of the kusuriyubi (ring finger) on Haru's left hand shows three identical bands of gold.
Each month Haru doles out 50,000 yen each to Satoko and Chie for their maintenance and upkeep.
"I pour out my love to him as if he were my own child," says Satoko. "Even when my hubby's not around, we're all on good terms. We even visited Tokyo Disneyland together. When we go together to watch our son's school sports meet or his dance lessons, I feel so happy my eyes mist up."
On the wall hangs a photo of the family of five. The son has been told his dad's two common-law wives are "Nice ladies who live with us." Someday, when he's old enough, he'll learn about the true story of this menage a quatre.
Another increasingly common situation, notes Spa, involves couples who for whatever reason maintain separate households, sometimes even at a considerable distance. Couples like Ushio Yoshida, a writer, and her husband, Koji Kubota, who works at his family's marine products business.
Yoshida and Kubota have resided in separate cities for the past 11 years. And since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, they've only met face-to-face on two occasions. Evenings they switch on their webcams for a friendly online chat.
Their remote marriage notwithstanding, they seem happy enough with their respective living arrangements.
Another recent phenomena are share houses. At a building in Yokodai, Yokohama, 27 family units intermingle under the same roof. As per the "it takes a village" mentality, child-rearing is shared among the residents.
Spa notes other examples of diversity such as couples who agree to allow the wife to retain her surname -- enabling them to assign different surnames to their offspring -- and women who prefer to bear children without the bother of having to put up with care and feeding of a husband.
One problem, as Spa sees it, is that the nation's laws keep falling further behind in terms of dealing with family diversity.
Attorney Kazuyuki Minami tells the magazine that large corporations have been at the spearhead of change. Mobile phone providers, for instance, have agreed to allow family discounts for same-sex couples, and some finance companies now enable joint credit card accounts.
The law, however, has a long way to catch up.
"What better way to show tolerance than for the state to proactively establish a legal system to deal with the increasingly diverse forms of family life," writes Minami.© Japan Today