Monday, September 29, 2008
Traditions in daily living
My homestay family has had students before and is pretty laid back about traditionalist aspects and rules. A lot of people living in homestays have rather strict parents, imposing tight curfews and whatnot. The biggest surprise I have had with living here is being able to take showers in the morning. It is a hard coded Japanese tradition to take a BATH in the EVENING. Some of the other people in my program doing homestays can take showers, but I think I'm the only one who is allowed to do so in the morning. Also, some Japanese families are very rooted in tradition, and find ritualistic phrases such as Itadakimasu, Itte Kimasu, etc. to be required for their appropriate times. According to our director, homestay students in the past have been kicked out of their homes for failing to honor these traditions. Japan has a complex system of social norms. One way Japanese norms are defined is through the uchi/soto relationship. I’m not going to explain this now, but this concept is kind of like a set of rules for social interaction based on a hierarchy of closeness with another person. The mother’s domain is the kitchen, and quite often guests (especially male guests) are not even allowed to enter the kitchen. I’m not allowed to help with the dishes, yet, but I can go into the kitchen and put my dishes away. Okasan does let me do my own laundry, however. I think I’m still in the guest phase, though, because she always serves me bigger servings and more sides for the meals than herself or her son.