Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I am grateful.

The other day I was sitting in the tub and thinking about what I was going to blog about. I was going to call it "I had one of those days". In my mind I was ranting....really ranting. It was one of those days that I just shouldn't have gotten out of bed. It started with not enough sleep followed by a realization that my cell phone company charged me $200 too much followed by going shopping on the Sunday before Christmas at the costco mall here in Fukuoka (note to self-don't ever do that again!!!) followed by rain....sweat...rain...too many people....couldn't find what I wanted.....more problems with the cell phone company. UGH!!!

I didn't blog about that at the time as I was too tired (though I guess I just kind of did LOL) and I remembered something I saw on CNN. It was about a typical Japanese family. The husband and wife get up everyday at 5 am. She makes "obento" (lunch) and his breakfast. He has a 90 minutes commute to work. She stays home with their baby. He finishes work at 10:30 pm. He comes home at midnight (notice he gets less than 5 hours of sleep a night). He never sees his daughter-in fact his daughter doesn't recognize him and will cry when she does see him. The wife talks about the American movies she sees where the husband comes home early (anything before 10pm is early here) and plays with the kids and has weekends off and takes vacation-she says that is a dream. And after living here for more than 10 years I agree- it is a dream for most families here in Japan.

From August 2003-February 2008 I had to live this kind of life. Ok....I never got up at 5 am and I have never made obento for my honey but the rest is the same. We never took a vacation. He never had any kind of weekends. "Holidays" just meant he had to work longer and his normal working day was 12-17 hours long. His boss would call the house at midnight. He had to go to parties and pay for his boss (this could be 100-200 dollars). He could never question anything and he could never say no. I hated it. Thankfully he was laid off in February and thankfully my etsy business was growing enough that he never had to find another job. I know I might have told this story before but when I saw that Japanese family on CNN I had tears in my eyes because I remembered what it was like. I had tears in my eyes because I was so grateful that we don't live like that anymore.

9 comments:

Colleen said...

And it's important to remember to be thankful for those things we so often take for granted! When I was living there, I remember being shocked at the hours and what a lot of my students there (business people) called a "family life". Thanks for the reminder to be grateful!

terryann said...

The American Dream is a real thing even though us dreamers don't seem to appreciate it as we should. Thanks for reminding me and waking me up just a little!

Robyn said...

Why do Japanese families do that? Why is it that the husband works such long hours? Does he not make much money or does he just want more? I'm very curious about this. Do companies allow for vacation time or sick days? What is the divorce rate like? It must be very difficult for the wife.

FromJapanWithLove said...

Robyn-it is the Japanese way. The company owns you. You do what they say. If the company says "you start working at the Tokyo branch In April" you go (can't say no) but your family will stay in Fukuoka (it's like you going to New York and your family stays in Florida). Many people don't get paid overtime so even all the extra hours don't bring extra money. Technically I believe people have vacation time BUT it is rare to take more than 5 days. People will travel to Europe for 5 days (3 I guess if you count 2 days for flying). If you are really sick, you don't go to work I guess but then that means other people in the office have to do your work so it is seen as a bad thing. Divorce is rising but it is still much lower than the States. It is VERY difficult for the wife as she is left to do everything...housework, take care of the kids, get up in the morning BEFORE the husband to make him fresh lunch and breakfast. I really could go on and on about this as I have strong feelings about all of this but a lot of it comes down to "group thinking". Standing out/being different/being unique is seen as a bad thing here and you will be punished for it so if you go home early, take long vacations, say no to your boss....you are being different and "selfish".

FromJapanWithLove said...

Colleen...even after more than 10 years here I can be shocked by things!!

Terryann-some of my students have been sent to the States for 3 years because of their jobs....they never want to come back. They truly love the relaxed way of the American life. They love the choices.

'Cuz I Felt Like It! said...

Wow....those are some loooong hours. I'm glad your honey and you don't have to deal with that anymore. I can't Imagine how tough that would be on the two of you.

Super Kawaii Mama said...

Oh I so needed to read that right now. I've been very grumpy and full of complaints this last month. I know I have it good but sometimes, it just takes a little more perspective to make you truly appreciate your lot in life. And on another note, congratulations on the success of your Etsy business! That is an awesome achievement.

Robyn said...

Did your honey ever expect you to get up early and make his meals? Or are these things not expected of you because you are not Japanese? Do you think that Japanese women resent you for this or do they envy you? (Sorry for all the questions. I'm really curious about other cultures.)

FromJapanWithLove said...

superkawaiimama-thanks for the kind words!!!


cuzIFeltLikeIt-it was difficult-especially since I just couldn't understand it and wanted him to question things or say no to things and he couldn't. I eventually stopped trying and just put up with it!

Robyn-My honey has NEVER expected me to do any of those things but I think the real reason why is that he lived in the States for 4 years and so he knew my (Canada is pretty much the same when it comes to these things) culture. He himself is not really Japanese...He is Japanese but not in his thinking. when I first got here I always said that I would never marry a Japanese guy because of the expectations but then I met Futoshi and it works!! I do think some women are jealous of me and the freedom I have and that Futoshi does so much around the house. Even my adult female students tell me that he isn't Japanese and they say "iina!!" which basically means "I'm jealous!". A lot of them have to ask for permission to go places or do things. Some have to cook dinner for 2 hours every night and their husbands refuse to go out to a restaurant or order in. Some women tell me there husbands come home, sit on the sofa and demand beer and snacks!!

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