lifestyle

Do young Japanese women want to be housewives?

42 Comments
By Evie Nyan, RocketNews24

As discussed in our Women in Japan series, being a housewife is still a respected career in Japan. A common response from girls here to the standard “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question is: “a beautiful bride” or “a housewife”.

But increasingly less Japanese women are choosing to get married and have children these days because of the expectation that Japanese women should quit work immediately after, and become housewives. Those who try to buck the “system” can face maternity harassment and find themselves squeezed out of their jobs. Accordingly, we were curious to find out what young Japanese women in their twenties think about such a future. Luckily, YouTuber That Japanese Man Yuta has come out with a new and informative video to satisfy our curiosities.

As we can see from the video below, this is a divisive issue, with a mix between modern and more traditional viewpoints.

Some of the interviewees expressed a common wish to “enjoy working” and “realize their dreams” before settling down to the inevitable life of a housewife. The difficulty of balancing full-time work with childcare and taking care of a family seems to leave young Japanese women with little impetus to continue their careers post-marriage, prompting them to get their fill of working life first.

While Japanese housewives still enjoy more respect than their Western counterparts, times are changing. Whereas before, a housewife’s busy schedule of cooking, cleaning, childcare, errand-running and the like was seen as essential to the household, some young Japanese women these days are starting to see staying home as tantamount to laziness. Others may prefer the mental stimulation of work to staying home with the kids.

One interviewee raised a salient point, which is often not discussed, that addresses the lack of parity in married couples where one partner is financially dependent on the other. Feeling that the breadwinner of the family would “look down” upon the other is contingent on one’s individual relationship, but part of the reason why some Japanese women want to continue earning in some capacity is to avoid being at the mercy of another person.

Another point raised was the increased cost of living, with many married couples now needing to earn a joint income to make ends meet.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Source and screenshot: YouTube/That Japanese Man Yuta

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- What Japanese women really think about the gender gap in Japan【Video】 -- Why aren’t there more female entrepreneurs in Japan? Pull up a chair… 【Women in Japan Series】 -- Three reasons why it’s okay to be a girly girl in Japan

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42 Comments
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Japanese housewives still enjoy more respect than their Western counterparts,

Are you frikken kidding me? How do you figure that?

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Lazy women just wanting to stay home without contributing anything to the economy... Japan's biggest downfall!

-4 ( +11 / -15 )

@Sensei......my first reaction....I agree with you....however a case could be made that this is true. For example the "women's movement" in Japan is far behind western countries. In the U.S. for example there are cases where being a housewife is considered to be subjugation and those that go out and work and try to balance career and household duties (which should be shared in my opinion) are considered by feminist movement to be an example of the way things should be (I make no comment on whether this is right or wrong). Additionally in Japan the housewife tends to have much more control over the family's finances than the male spouse and also much more control over child rearing. This can be pretty empowering in some ways.

@Mike...is your comment a parody? Bringing up kids and taking care of the house is an important part of society and should not be ridiculed.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Lazy women just wanting to stay home without contributing anything to the economy... Japan's biggest downfall!

Is this supposed to be irony, or are you serious?

3 ( +10 / -7 )

"Whereas before, a housewife’s busy schedule of cooking, cleaning, childcare, errand-running and the like was seen as essential to the household, some young Japanese women these days are starting to see staying home as tantamount to laziness."

Back in the days of 5-8 kids, no washing machine or vacuum, had to buy the live chicken and kill and slice it, etc. women worked real real hard. Nowadays with 1 or no kid and every conceivable convenience it is pure laziness...

5 ( +12 / -7 )

It would be nice if someone who hasn't watched the video yet would come up with totals of the opinions expressed by the Japanese women.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Call me old-fashioned but there is nothing wrong with the Japanese way of husband at work and housewife at home. Everyone knows their place - the husband is expected to work and hand his salary to his wife, and the wife looks after the home and children if they have them. I have always liked the fact that Japanese women have no issues with saying they want to be housewives.

Nowadays with 1 or no kid and every conceivable convenience it is pure laziness...

Ever tried being a housewife even with just 1 child? Men like us couldnt handle it.

-5 ( +12 / -17 )

TigersTokyoDome: Ever tried being a housewife even with just 1 child? Men like us couldnt handle it.

If you're the type who's never changed a single diaper for their own kid, I guess it could be hard.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Saying that housekeeping "with every possible convenience" is pure laziness is absolutely ridiculous and shows the writer never helps out at home. Do we say say office work of all kinds has become pure laziness because of computers and printers and copy machines? Misogyny means looking down on some activity and some people just because they are women or women's typical activities. Don't be a misogynistic!

Anyway, not every family can afford all those conveniences. Many homes don't have enough space for a clothes dryer, for example, let alone a dishwasher. Except in the most recently built homes, stoves have just two burners ... the list goes on and on. A housewife is a problem-solver, someone who figures out solutions to common problems and is available to conduct family business during daytime hours. Not all women are so clever, nor do all husbands hand over all their paychecks to their wives every month. That is a myth. It depends on the husband. Not all women are cut out to be housewives, and everyone should pitch in with housework and child rearing.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I never wanted to be a housewife. I always wanted to follow my own career, and I have. Fortunately my husband is supportive and we work in the same industry. However, there are not many other women in my office or my field as a whole. I do not really experience discrimination, but I do sometimes get asked why I did not decide to have children and stay home. I think the people asking those questions do not have bad intentions, but no one has ever asked my husband such a thing. I feel like there is still a strong expectation in our society that we are supposed to stay home, have children, and that our careers are not as serious as men's careers.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

IMHO those monster mothers are the worst, they have nothing for themselves, not only they create hell for their children, but other children as well, because they meddle in schools, pressure on teachers, demanding the "best result", while they themselves are having gourmet lunches, endless afternoon coffee/tea with other "sengyou shufu", not caring a bit what's going on with their children's mental health.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

To each their own, but for me I have no respect whatsoever for women whose sole goal in life is to be a housewife and not contributing, and find it incredibly repulsive

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

To each their own, but for me I have no respect whatsoever for women whose sole goal in life is to be a housewife and not contributing, and find it incredibly repulsive

Yet again, this misconception that a housewife sits on the sofa all day doing nothing. Maybe if there are no children. But if there are young children your comment is also repulsive. As you say each to their own, but I myself found it repulsive back in the UK when I met women who basically wanted to be men and who were insulted at any suggestion that they could be housewives caring for children and home. Not contributing? Man up. Go to work earn a salary and let women be women if they so wish.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

All these people defending Housewives didn't listen to what the women said. The ones that wanted to become Housewives predominantly said the attraction was having more free time & waiting at home for the Husband. They also said being a housewife would depend on the Men having enough Finances! Men are basically ATM's in this country. Where is the love or caring for the husband & family & working together to built a great household as well as being financially stable?

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I feel sorry for working married mothers. A friend of my wife is married raising two kids getting out the door by 7 or 8 am, getting off work at 5 or 6 only to go home, cook dinner and take care of all the chores. Then up at 4 or 5 am to start over.

Without a thought for herself. A true family hero IMO.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

I have been working for the last 13 years, I have always worked. Now after moving to Japan I have been working for the past 2 years here. I am currently pregnant with my first child and my Japanese husband has given me the choice of going back to work or becoming a housewife.

After working 12 hours a day, coming home and cooking and cleaning is the last thing I want to do but I have to if we want a clean house and warm food. My husband is an engineer and is exhausted after work, more than me so I feel that it's easier for me than him to do the housework.

Thinking of the future it's not just about cooking and cleaning and raising a child, the cost of nursery for the child can outweigh what you get paid for a part time job, the horror stories of some nursery schools is terrifying. Lastly why hand over a child to a stranger when you can look after your own child?

Being a housewife in Japan is not about being lazy, it's an educated choice looking at the factors of finance and child care.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Looking at these girls being interviewed, they seem pretty young and the ones saying they dream to become a housewife and would be nice to have lots of free time and wait for her husband, they're only dreaming and not mature enough to know what married life is like. So, to be fair, if they ask older ladies who are already married and see if they would rather stay home and be a housewife or to continue working, or work part time, the answers would probably be different. My view towards housewives changed significantly after I had my own family. To judge the Japanese women based on these young girls' interviews is biased in my opinion.

I worked full time before marriage and after (even now). When I took some time off after I had my first baby, I realized being housewife while having a small baby was much harder than I imagined. When I went back to work full time after that, it sure was hard just to get out of the door ... baby would cry, puke milk, scream when being buckled in... It was hard being stay-at-home mom, it was/is hard being a working mom (though you have a little "break" from someone climbing up on you while at work).

I would be interested to see how the interviews would turn out if they interviewed women in the 30s and 40s.. or even older.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Do you want to be a housewife?

"I just want a carrot!" replied the girl on the left.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Both men and women should be free to choose their own path. That said, if that path includes children somewhere along the way, then provision needs to be made for them and their needs should come before any thoughts of career. Up to the age of three at least, longer if possible, there should be a parent at home caring for the child full-time.

Three kids spaced an average of two or so years apart means a 'career gap' of around seven or eight years. It isn't so much a 'gap' as a 'switch'; raising kids is a full-time, strenuous and arduous career. It's not a career for a lazy person.

being a housewife would depend on the Men having enough Finances! Men are basically ATM's in this country. Where is the love or caring for the husband & family & working together to built a great household as well as being financially stable?

If one half of the couple is at home raising kids and not earning an income, then the other partner needs to be able to earn enough to cover that. Men (usually) do need to have enough finances if the family is to be financially stable through the child-rearing years. Duuh.

Disclaimer: we were DINKS until the first baby came along, then by mutual consent I left my paying job to be a full-time mother, which I remained until the younger child hit kindergarten. Then I was able to do a bit of PT, from home, so that I was always there when the kids came home from school. As school hours lengthened so did my working hours. Now they've both flown the nest and I work freelance - FT, but I can choose my own hours. If you have a job in an ordinary company, working hours as flexible as mine probably isn't on the cards; but if instead of stressing 'getting mothers back to work instead of being 'only' housewives', more attention were paid to accepting that mothers need reasonable time off for child-raising and that being at home with a toddler is not 'being lazy'★, possibly more young women would feel able to have children.

★Anyone who seriously thinks this has no idea what is involved in raising a child and deserves a slap up the back of the head with a large, preferably frozen, fish. There's a lot more to it than keeping its bottom clean and its belly full.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

being a housewife would depend on the Men having enough Finances! Men are basically ATM's in this country. Where is the love or caring for the husband & family & working together to built a great household as well as being financially stable?

Did you hear the same girl who said it'd be nice to stay at home to TAKE CARE OF CHILDREN if husband made enough money and allowed her to stay home? I personally didn't think of men being an ATM machine from that comment. What I thought from this comment was that it would be nice to be able to stay home to take care of children if financially secure - and traditioanlly in Japan (and in many other countries), more husbands work outside than wives, so it only seems natural that she thought she'd like to stay home to support the family while he worked to earn income. Sounds like a building a great household as well as being financially stablekind of plan to me :)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Harsh words dcog but completely agree with you!

Imo one can become a housewife if life, circumstances etc 'facilitate' this but to target that before even being in a relationship is wrong and unattractive.

I actually wonder what type of women would say that to a guy before or even early in a relationship? Never met any. Perhaps the type who ask straight away ' what's your job and how much do you make'? They probably have their public but am not one of them.

The good thing is these 'housewives by birth' are snapped up pretty quickly by men who enjoy/need total financial control over their gf/wife which leaves women who don't see men as providers for the rest of us. Pretty decent deal, everyone's happy.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

not against housewives, but there is nothing more depressing that get young women in their 18, 20s telling you they want to be a "housewife". So sad. This just confirms how inexperienced and lazy they are. As if a life as housewife was that easy.... if I was a woman I would say "Probably in the future, but just while I take care of my small kids".

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Women at least in some society understand the basics of humanity and human warmth, not chasing fleeting material "happiness". Raising children or even a single child is "lazy" now, what a set of moral values. Unless they are doing it to avoid having to pay for themselves, there is nothing wrong with being a housewife. On the contrary, looking at modern trends, you have to have a heart and courage to be one. Not otherwise.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I know plenty of college girls here that say they want to be married by 24 and pregnant.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@goldorak: Harsh, but as I said, to each their own. A lot of men prefer these types too, possibly over some fantasy about a servant waiting patiently at home to put out. But yeah, no way for me

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I think the biggest problem is that it is ceasing to be an economically viable proposition. Many younger men simply do not earn enough for this to be an option anymore.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I would also like to be 24 and pregnant, but a mid-40's male will find that hard to pull off.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

i really dont know if the traditional japanese system is more or less productive than western style:

1- western style: women also have jobs, very independent.

2- old traditional japanese style (not all japanese do this): women stay at home, keeps house, so that husbands can stay at work 14 hours a day with a productivity equivalent to about 6 western hours

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Three kids spaced an average of two or so years apart means a 'career gap' of around seven or eight years. It isn't so much a 'gap' as a 'switch'; raising kids is a full-time, strenuous and arduous career. It's not a career for a lazy person.

@cleo hit the nail on the head. Raising children is a very difficult career, and probably one of the most important careers around! It makes me sad/angry when housewives who are raising their children are looked down on by "feminists" - as if earning a little bit more money (after factoring in child care and whatnot) is more important than caring for and raising your children properly. And to be honest, handing your children off to someone else and going to work is often actually easier/less stressful than looking after them yourself all day!

Note: a housewife without children to raise is a completely different story - in that case it really may be a case of them being lazy/not wanting to work.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cleo has the right answer. "Both men and women should be free to choose their own path. "

That is it. That is all. I am a transactionist, a feminist. A humanist. If a couple comes together and makes the deal and sets the rules, I have no problem whatever they decide. Why would I? Now, if we are all going to wail about social expectations, I say get rid of them. All they do is interfere with people's duties and dreams.

Want some controversy? OK. Personally speaking, I would very quickly become disgusted and bored with a woman who would fall into a lazy rut of daytime TV and stupid stupid housewife conversations. I would say I am lucky to be married to a working mom, but luck had nothing to do with it. We choose our lives and our spouses and we honor that choice for life.

Taking care of home and kids? Well, the mom and dad both have to help, obviously, and if everything does not get accomplished perfectly... Who cares? LIfe is hard. You do your best. Kids have to have some independence and help out. It is all about supporting one another and being individuals, not coddling little snowflakes. Dinner is cold? Cry me a river and make a sandwich junior, your mom is tired. Everyone cooks. Everyone cleans. Specialization is for ants.

When I see videos with young women who just want to find a guy, latch onto him, and kick back and have kids, I have this advice for young men: ALWAYS wear a condom. "Women and men are free to choose their own path" until someone gets pregnant.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

TigersTokyoDomeNOV. 30, 2016 - 09:38AM JST Everyone knows their place - the husband is expected to work and hand his salary to his wife, and the wife looks after the home and children if they have them.

I think what you mean is not "Everyone knows their place," but rather, "Everyone is spared from ever having to think about their place because it's decided for them and they don't have a choice." It's an easy mistake to make- people made the same mistake when they supported caste systems, slavery, apartheid, and abuse of the LGBT.

FizzBitNOV. 30, 2016 - 12:43PM JST I feel sorry for working married mothers. A friend of my wife is married raising two kids getting out the door by 7 or 8 am, getting off work at 5 or 6 only to go home, cook dinner and take care of all the chores. Then up at 4 or 5 am to start over.

Why feel sorry for married mothers? They're living the life they chose to live. I think rather you should feel sorry for women who marry men so gormless they don't know how to put in equal work around the house.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

it depends on how hot she is. i make loads so supporting a hottie housewifey isnt a problem for me. she should just help out around the house at least! GaiPlay

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

In the video, I thought it was funny when the girl said her mother would read her diary because she had nothing else and had become obsessed with her (their) family life. My kids' elementary school has parents' days every month and sends my kids home with a letter from the teacher pretty much every day. Its very common for parents to have to do lots of running around and volunteering for any extra-curricular stuff the kids do. I think the system in Japan is set up for parents to become obsessed with banal details in their kids' lives, all while not allowing families the time or energy for better and deeper interaction.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think more young Japanese men want to be housewives, right?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In my humble opinion if a woman wants to be a housewife then I don't have any issues with that. If they want to work after marriage, I don't have any issues with that. I'm not prepared to stand judgement on what women do after they're married. What they do is up to them.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

raising kids is a full-time, strenuous and arduous career. It's not a career for a lazy person.

I think women tend to exaggerate and 'big up' how hard it is.

It's not easy I suppose but it's not that hard.

If you listen to women they make out that raising kids is like building the Titanic single-handed.

It's no harder than a day at work in most jobs and easier than many.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It is not a question of wanting or not wanting to be a housewife at this point. It is now about economics. With wages having stagnated for men over the last 25 years, on average, a family can no longer afford to live on just one income.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sorry, but with the way the economy is, (at least where I live) having a two income household is the norm. I work with 9 women at my pharmacy who mostly work full time AND raise their young children. They all have between 1-2 children that they're raising. Their husbands work, and help raise the kids and take care of the household.

I'm still confused about how Japanese housewives "control" the finances since everything can be done online now with just very few cases where I may have to go out and get money orders for my rent/ and student loan payments. But everything else is as simple as logging online and paying bills to whomever I owe.

Even banking can be done online as far as keeping track of finances. So it's really not all that hard. As for child rearing, Japanese society needs to get with the times especially with it's current economic situation.

If it works for some folks if the husband is capable of earning enough that a 2nd income isn't required, good for them. But **** happens, husband can lose the job, or die, and I've seen more than enough horror stories from women who completely lacked the ability to take care of things because the family cashflow suddenly stops. It's happened to 2 of the working mothers I've worked with and they said, "Never am I going to allow myself to be stuck in that kind of position again..."

As for the families I know that have both parent's working, they've had a much easier time weathering such storms. The father actually does share duties that used to be relegated only to the housewife.

As a male I know how to clean, cook, and rear children. I also know single parent fathers that also work full time, and handle their business. While it is still a choice as to be a housewife or not, it's time to start understanding the realities and consequences that can and have happened in todays economic environment.

The 1950s "Leave it to Beaver" lifestyle is a long bygone era that won't be coming back anytime soon if ever.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

livvy: Saying that housekeeping "with every possible convenience" is pure laziness is absolutely ridiculous and shows the writer never helps out at home. Do we say say office work of all kinds has become pure laziness because of computers and printers and copy machines?

Companies got rid of the masses of clerks who used to sit on high chairs like Bob Cratchit and tally up figures all day six long days a week, and typists who used to type out bosses' handwritten notes with copies from carbon paper or mimeograph. Don't know what they did with the productivity gains, probably padded the execs' stock options with it. That's a different situation from housework.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Real reward in society for work rather than being merely tolerated would allow for a greater acceptability to the office. As it stands given the discriminational attitudes and pay why would any woman want to work if they didn't have to? 50 years of change didn't occur in Japan like in other countries. Family story is that the grandfather came back from the war to find that the wife liked running the business, and thus taught that to the children which affected the following generations. Thus concepts in the division of labour shifted over time. Different countries have had this run at different speeds but basically the same effect.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

2- old traditional japanese style (not all japanese do this): women stay at home, keeps house, so that husbands can stay at work 14 hours a day with a productivity equivalent to about 6 western hours

then you can have your dysfunctional family.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I dont think housewives are lazy, specially when there are childs; but besides, even if it were true that she works a lot less than me I wouldnt mind it if I am recieving from her what I need to be happy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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