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Why housewives refuse to visit their in-laws during holidays

17 Comments
By cinnamonellie, grape Japan

After getting married, visiting your in-laws becomes something normal and in Japan, that is no exception. Returning home/帰省(kisei) during holidays, especially, should be something relaxing and fun because you get to see your family and spend precious time with them. However, when it comes to visiting your in-laws, many of the Japanese housewives have a different opinion on the matter.

I first heard this term after talking to one of my Japanese acquaintances and she told me that some of the people really don’t get along, feel awkward and sometimes are even harassed by their in-laws.

That is the reason why holidays like New Year’s turn into something very depressing for those people because, in spite of having a holiday, they will need to 気を使う(ki wo tsukau), be thoughtful of their husband’s parents.

After more research, I stumbled upon different opinions and some women were mentioning that they are not fond of drinking, but they are forced to drink until morning, others are saying that even though is New Year’s, because they are women, they need to cook, wash dishes all night and is just tiring.

Many are afraid to say it directly, but searching for the tag #Kiseiblue on twitter, I could find out more reasons and various opinions of why they wouldn’t want to visit their in-laws and here I will share a few of them:

“I totally understand kisei blue Now I don’t experience it, but when I was young, during Obon or New Year’s holidays, I felt melancholy and honestly detested it. However, because now I will be the mother-in-law, I should be careful and be considerate”.

“First of all, I don’t understand “returning home” to your in-laws. If you get married, you have your own family, right? So why should I go all the way and even do housework at my husband’s place? Is he going to do the same when coming to my family’s house? Why does such a thing even exist?”

“I perfectly understand the 'Homecoming Blue' phenomenon during holidays. Nowadays, it is already an era when women go to work. I don’t get what’s fun in going to your husband’s house during holidays. I also understand when husbands don’t want to go to their wives' houses, too. We should all go to our own houses separately just with our children. However, it might be impossible if you’re not raising kids.”

“If you and your mother-in-aw get to know each other and understand that you are different, then it will eventually get comfortable. From her point of view, I am a guest, so I never helped with preparing anything or washing the dishes. I watch TV, stretch my legs, let the child in their care and go out with my husband. It’s troublesome because you think of it as 'family,' but you are a guest.”

Above you can see different people voicing their opinions about feeling blue when going to their husbands’ houses.

Besides the opinions mentioned above, it seems that some wives feel uncomfortable when their in-laws talk about negative things and it makes them feel depressed just listening to them or are simply tired and just want to rest during holidays, some even receive bad treatment, sometimes harassment!

I’ve heard of in-laws telling the wives about their husbands’ previous relationships or calling them ugly, also suggesting that they should be cleaner, etc. so figures why wives will get uncomfortable going to their place.

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17 Comments
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Dear housewives: Raise the single finger salute and tell them to spin.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Were the prefectures once referred to as 省 therefore 帰省?How about 帰県?Homecoming blues and trouble with the In-Laws spell 帰県は危険.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

And how many male partners hate going to their in laws over the holiday periods

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This is what happens when you force people to do specific things at specific times instead of allowing relationships to build freely.

Is it any wonder that there’s pushback when, on one of the few extended holiday periods of the year, it is expected to have a specific plan year after year and behave in a specific way? (ie travel through gridlock for hours to visit people you may only ever see at this time, behave towards them in a formal way despite them being family, and contribute to the housework, cooking, and serving etc.)

Of course some people are fortunate to have ‘normal’ relationships with their in-laws, but for many - mostly women - I can completely understand their misery.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

More draconian Japanese culture, as usual it’s always the women who say they suffer most from it.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Is it any different than what people do in the West? They travel home for the Christmas holidays and spend time with their in-laws. It is what people do. I think that in a lot of cases where the wife has to cook and clean, it is where the parents are elderly and can't do it themselves. I know my wife's mother still does everything herself, with some help from both her children.

I just feel that these days people are not willing to go out of there way at all for anybody else. There was an article a few days ago in the Huffington Post by a woman writing about how she sends her family away for Christmas so she can be alone and not do anything. She found it so difficult to travel from Winnipeg to Toronto, or heavens even worse, Vancouver. She didn't want to be with her husband's family, or even her own.

She was excoriated in the comments and I had to agree with a lot of them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Controlling people don't want to hear any potential criticism or allow members of their family to make strong connections with their relatives.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They probably do not want to be watched and judged ‘perfect’ wives by their in-laws.

They want to go home and just let go, let their hair down and be imperfect in a place where their own parents will not criticize them for being who they are.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not only in Japan. Just more formalized.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What about the men (like me) who have to go and visit the in-laws with the wife?? Stupid article!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The basic premise of the article and graphic, that visiting family is not the same as a holiday, will be true in all parts of the world. It can be true even when no in-laws are involved.

The article tries to put a Japanese angle on the story but I remain unconvinced. The obvious Japanese angle would be the huge traffic jams that can be involved and the fact that people do not get other holidays in which to relax. Westerners may have to endure a family Christmas with bigoted Uncle Albert and their sisters who fight about absolutely everything, but at least they get time off at other times of the year to lie next to a pool somewhere.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I know of one Japanese housewife.

She has to return home to visit her husband's family every o-shougatsu.

Then in January, every year without fail, her mother-in-law sends her a letter listing all the mistakes she made (in the eyes of the mil) as a wife, mother and daughter-in-law during the visit.

And it's the most ridiculously detailed things such as "not grilling the mochi cheerfully" etc.

What kind of horrible old witch of a mil would do that??

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"the Japanese housewives" ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I get along better with my MIL than my wife. I would not be willing to spend New Years with my wife's family in Japan again. My memory is the drunk by noon uncle making every effort to justify cultural stereotypes as I was stuck sitting by him in a cramped two room apartment. Also do not intend to go to any more miserable funerals or formalistic weddings here either. In Japan anything worth doing can be done miserably.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I love my in-laws, especially my father in-law, couldn’t ask for kinder, caring people. I love them so much, I would gladly take them on holiday with us. I truly enjoy going their and when my wife’s siblings and their kids come over it’s always a party, festive environment. I feel bad for those that just don’t have that kind of experience, too bad.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They never mention how much a son-in-law has to spend on the wife's parents, siblings, cousins, etc. Driving them around, petrol cost, food cost, entertainment cost, etc....

And I don't just mean Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They never mention how much a son-in-law has to spend on the wife's parents, siblings, cousins, etc. 

And I don't just mean Japan.

Oh yeah, that adds on the wife's maintenance costs. We know a dude that had to rent a private jet to be there with his Lebanese in-laws...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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