Friday, October 14, 2011

Russell's Ken-Bun-Ki April 26, 1996 (Something To Think About Before Golden Week)

I notice the number of fathers who participate in school events/activities seems low. Certainly last week's Elementary School Admission Ceremony had few fathers in attendance. Also, in children's books in the library if there is a note at the back of the book it usually begins, "To the Mothers." At the town hall when there are PTA meetings or Sports Association meetings the vast majority of the participants are the mothers. Why is this? In America I think both parents try to attend, or they switch off in their participation. I am often told that the fathers cannot attend because they have to work during the day. However, nowadays don't many mothers also work outside the home? I think it's important to make time for the children's sake.
Do you know the classic Disney move, "Mary Poppins"? In that movie the father thinks only of his job, spending no time with his children. The nanny, Mary Poppins, helps him realize that the love of his children is more important than work.

I know that fathers work very hard at their jobs. However, for whose benefit are you working? If you don't become friends with your children while they are small I think you will have somewhat lonely lives when your  children are older. Golden Week is upon us. I hope you can enjoy a lot of good parent-child time. Please have a fun holiday week.

By the way, "Golden Week" is a made-up Japanese word. It isn't English.
I wrote this in 1996, and as far as I know the situation in Japan is still the same: the father overworks and is emotionally distant from his children.
For those of you who don't know, "Golden Week" is the week from April 29 until May 5 when the entire country basically shuts down. April 29 was originally Emperor Hirohito's birthday and was always a national holiday while he was alive. Then when the Japanese Congress (called the Diet; I don't know why) passed the new post-war Constitution on May 3 that became Constitution Day and was made a national holiday, too. Lastly, May 5 was always a holiday called "Boys' Day." (Girls' Day is on March 3.) It became a national holiday as well and its name was changed to Childrens' Day. (If you want to be cynical you can see that the boys got the holiday and the girls got nothing, but that's a topic for another post...!)
Emperor Hirohito died in 1989, but rather than mess up the tourism and vacation industries, and to show him respect, the country kept April 29 as a holiday. It became Green Day ("midori no hi") and then sometime in the 2000s it became Showa Day ("Showa" was the name of his reign). The current Emperor's birthday is December 23 and it is also a national holiday.

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