Term Paper: Japanese Culture Past and Present

Pages: 5 (1595 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sociology  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … post-modern Japanese cultural society and its effects. It looks at the similarities of the culture that existed in the past and present. The paper also takes a look at cultural deviations that did not exist in the past.

Japanese culture is known to be quite unique as it is a mixture of old cultural values and new beliefs. Japanese culture has often been compared to American culture and always manages to show its diversity in being different. Experts believe that Japan has more of a shame culture rather than a guilt culture. There are many different aspects of society which form the foundation of the culture which it depends on. Japanese culture has either evolved or stayed the same in certain cases. This has been the case for youth culture, women's role in Japanese culture as well as Japanese pop culture. The Japanese culture used elements of social control such as family, the power of the gender, corporate mentality and respect by people in authority to destroy diversity. Due to the changes in the world brought by globalization there are a number of changes occurring in Japanese society.

Youth Culture

The youth culture in Japan has evolved a lot since the last fifty years. Youth culture was quite restricted due to the strong influence of the military. The Japanese defeat during World War II badly affected the Japanese society. Japan did make a lot of progress through industrialization and urbanization, which brought an increase to the middle class. The youth culture was disillusioned with life there and this sparked a lot of protests against the political structure. The youth community was looking to implement communal values originating from the rural communities and not urban values. This was in sharp contrast with the urban Japanese who wanted to deny the rural values and create urban values. The youth of that era wanted a return to values of the past and retain their culture. The youth culture movement allowed a slight change in the educational system. The youth culture started pretty late there due to the late modernization of the country. The true urban culture started during the 1970s and allowed for very little diversity. The youth went through a period of hard work and due diligence. There were hardly any luxuries for them as they were not enough growth. The youth culture went through a massive change in the 80s. They were brought up in a more affluent consumer society and did not grow up within a mass culture. A majority of the baby boomers were born after 1970 and make up one third of the Japanese population. They are the children of the postwar baby boomers and grew up in affluence. They did not endure any war or hard work while growing up as compared to the children of the previous generations. The children of the previous generations were not as demanding as the children of the current generation. There is a huge generation gap amongst parents and children compared to the late 50s. Around 85% of teenagers claimed that they had the freedom to rebel against their parents. The youth culture changed quite a bit in the 90s due to the baby boomer junior generation. The youth before that time did not make any distinction between the American and European culture. The western European and American culture had a huge effect on the Japanese youth. The new boom allowed Japanese culture to come into its own and it was used to influence TV, video games, music and cultural idols in south East Asia.

Role of women

Women were always treated as second-class citizens for a long period of time. Working- women were frowned upon, as the corporate mentality was pretty conservative. They believed it wasn't honorable for women to work, as their husbands should be able to provide for them, as they believed in the samurai code of honor. They were firm about not allowing women to work in a male dominated area. Times have changed recently as women are more active in leadership roles in university, political and business settings. Women have gotten to play a larger role in the workforce in Japan due to the new economic and social challenges in society. There has been a new trend of late where young Japanese are either marrying late or not marrying at all due to social behavior. This problem exists due to the Japanese culture, which demands that the oldest son care for his parents. Japanese sons have a moral obligation to take care of their parents regardless of the circumstances. The cost of living has become very high for young Japanese and it takes up a lot of effort to manage everything.

However despite the increasing number of women in the workforce there are still a small percentage of women in managerial positions. A large number of women are forced to leave the labor force due to family responsibilities or taking care of their children. The Japanese women are very dominant in their household however compared to the women of the past. This is one reason why Japanese employers still don't promote young women, as they believe that they will quit their jobs. There has always been a lot of discrimination against women in the workplace. A lot of women earn less than their male counterparts and face a lot of hurdles for promotion at the work place. This problem has existed since women were allowed to go to work. It is a great achievement that women have been allowed to work at all but there are a lot of hurdles left for them to cross. There have been a number of cases of sexual harassment cases in Japan, which go unreported because the women don't want to be seen as troublemakers.

Women have to spend most of their time cooking, cleaning, making babies, etc. they are still expected to fulfill all their duties despite their new role in modern society. They are supposed to take care of the house no matter what and don't get any assistance from their husbands. Women are still responsible for taking care of the elderly and sick. There is also no support for women from the government. Women who are working are forced to take up part time jobs so that they can make ends meet and balance their lives. This is one reason why they are allowed to dominate the men, as they are the ones who have to work hard to hold their place in the house.

Popular Culture

Popular culture did not exist quite a long time back as there was no time for such activities. However most of the Popular Culture out there exists only for males between the ages of twelve to thirty four. Anime is the main pillar of the popular culture in Japan anime consists of animated films, which are released both theatrically and straight to video. Manga is another part of the sub-culture and consists of visual literature such as comic strips and graphic novels. Manga has had a huge influence on animation the world over and is a result of Japanese culture reaching out to the world. Manga and anime sell in millions in Japan alone. They have a huge fan following as well around the world. Manga is a $5 billion dollar industry. It took form after the events of World War II when people needed an escape from the reality of life. The main readers of the manga comics were during the 1946-49 era. The readers continued to grow throughout the years and it managed to include people of all age groups during the 60s as well. They have had a great influence on Japanese society as they appeal to everyone.

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