Japanese Language and Culture 1

This essay will explain how the Japanese family structure has been changing since the early years of last century and in particular in the period since World War Two. It will cover the main differences between the traditional Japanese attitude towards family and the current, more modern attitude towards family, child rearing and education.

In pre-modern Japan, before the Second World War the traditional concept of a family was the'ie' (this is now the word for house or home). This concept is very different from the modern western idea of immediate family. The traditional ie did not simply consist of the living members of the immediate family, it also included their dead ancestors and unborn descendants.The ie was very spiritual as the living members of the family were expected to put the interests of the family before their own, to please the dead ancestors and bring fortune upon the living and unborn family members. The structure of the family was very hierarchical and authoritarian. The head of the house, usually the father, enjoyed special privileges made the rules and everyone elses had to obey them. When the head of the family passed away the eldest son would usually inherit all of the property and the position of head. The eldest son also received privileges much like those of the head of the house did. Younger sons would inherit nothing and would be expected to either marry and establish branch-houses of the ie or marry into other families that had no male heir. Young men still marry into other families and adopt the family name in modern Japan. Daughters on the other hand did not receive as much respect as sons, they were often treated as little more than servants. They were almost always married off and would become part of the ie that they married into. In contrast with Western tradition there was often much more tension between daughters who married into families than sons. With each passing generation the…