Discovering the importance of ibasho

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

Anonymous student post

Anne Allison views the problems Japan faces from a lot of perspectives. I am very interested in topic about human relationship and ibasho. Therefore I want to think about it related to my experiences.

I became a university student one year ago, and I began living by myself. What I felt strongly in my university life as a freshman is that life consists of a continuance of acts of choosing something. Because I can choose almost all things by myself, I have to take responsibility by myself. I have had more time to face that by myself and imagine my future since I had such an idea. When I think about my future, that is almost shushoku and shukatsu, I often talk to myself what is most important thing in my life at the same time, because I consider future plan is deeply connected with what I value. In thinking about that, I realized that my view on the family has changed so far.

In short, it was not until I left my hometown and lived alone that I understood how valuable my family is. I knew that the greatness of my mother who raised me and my brother by herself with working every day, and how much I have been supported by family for the first time. If I am worried about something, my family always listens to my worries and gives good advice for me. My family accepts and loves me no matter what I am, and filled with my desire of recognition absolutely. I was sure that family is ibasho for me after reading Allison’s paper.

As Allison says, current Japanese society is unstable, liquid and precarious. Human relationships get to be thin more and more, and many people seek their real ibasho. I know it is important to have a “good” job and earn much money, and praised by many people, however, it is more essential to get deep human relationship and feeling of spiritual satisfaction in like there society.

I have not decided concrete my future plan and what I choose as my occupation yet. However, I have the core of myself, that is, I want to be a person who can be proud of myself to the family and protect ibasho. Moreover, I also hope to become a person who can support someone as one of their

Man thinking on a train journey.

Man thinking on a train journey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ibasho.

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Family would be my ibasho

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

Anonymous student post

I hope to get a job as a regular worker and get married and have children for my future. Actually I have only indefinite work plans for my future, however I really hope to get a job in which I can communicate with many people because it will bring me up to talk with all sorts of people. It would make me feel narrow and uncomfortable if there is only one or two ba for me even now. My life is full and enjoyable because I have several my ba, family, friends, relative, university, workplace as a part time. All of them help me differently to have great every day and any one can’t lack in my life. Therefore I hope to get married and have my family and keep working while I can work.

Family would be my ibasho. I consider ibasho as where I can show my everything and don’t need to pretend to be tough. Family is the most suitable place to be ibasho. That’s why I hope to get married and have a family. My mother works part-time and she welcomes me whenever I come back home from school, therefore it is difficult to imagine both mother and father working full-time. However I hope to raise children and keep working. I’m not sure it would go well because I’ve never experienced the family I hope to have in my future. My father and mother are almost typical a husband and wife, my father is a sarari-man and works to support my family, and my mother is a part-time worker and does all household work.

The media often says it is getting difficult to raise children in Japanese modern society because of the insufficiency to guarantee child rearing. It is one of the serious problems that the number of children who need to go to the nursery school exceeds the actual number of the children that nursery schools can accept. It can be said that one of the causes of the declining birthrate in Japanese society is related to lack of satisfaction with such guarantees. I hope there will be a better society in which to raise children, and that the birthrate would recover.

I’ve thought family would help me anytime, even though some people consider that having family might bring more risks than staying alone. I would like to get married and raise children while continuing to work because my family would be my ibasho and working would give me the strength to get through my life.

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Devoting myself to family and future

University of Queensland

University of Queensland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

Anonymous student post

My future plan is still vague, but I’m going to clarify it a little at a time. Concretely, I’m going to explain about job, my family, and my ibasho in the future.

First of all, I have a few jobs which I want to do in the future. For instance, in the future, I want to be an interpreter, especially interpreting from Japanese to English and from English to Japanese. I haven’t decided the workplace where I will translate, but to give you example, at a big corporation, in a diplomatic situation, at an international organization, and so on.

To make the dream true, I plan to go to the University of Queensland in Australia to study an interpretation next spring, as an exchange student. However, I need an IELTS score to get a right to be an exchange student, so I study hard for the IELTS.

Furthermore, I also want to be engaged in a job like saving children. There are a lot of children who suffer from hunger, diseases, and war. Some children don’t have their parents and houses. I desire to save these children, give them future hopes.

Secondly, I think family is a very important factor in planning my future. This is because family members exist to make other members comfortable, relaxed, and happy and help them when they are at a loss at what to do. Without family, I might not be able to lead a life. Therefore, I want to marry someone, and have a few children. Furthermore, I like children, so I will take a child-care leave at least for three months and I want to devote myself to my children with my wife in the future.

Followed by the family, I’m going to think about my ibasho. Ibasho means a place where you can feel like yourself, or to live in safety, comfort and dignity, where he or she is valued as a person full of history and experience (Ibasho-Creating Social Integrated and Sustainable Communities that Value Their Elders-, http://www.ibasho.org/web/). I agree with the concept of living in safety, comfort, and dignity. My home represents safety and comfort. If I come home, I have parents who wait for me at home. When I go home and stay in my room, I feel relaxed and relieved. Moreover, I have another ibasho, school. There are a lot of friends whom I can tell my real intensions and cooperate each other in difficult situation. Therefore, school makes me feel relaxed and comfortable.

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Ibasho as a lifeline to maintain our lives

Michael Ende - Momo

Michael Ende – Momo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

by Natsuki Shinmei

In this blog post, I would like to write about what I felt and thought through reading Allison’s book, and show what I hope for my future.

In Japanese society, we have a lot of inequality. Employment conditions are different between men and women. Different names are given to workers depending on their situation; sarari-man, furi-ta, NEETkasha ningen, and so on. The working style has changed from life-long jobs and a family-based model to a more flexible and unstable model. Because of fast-aging Japanese society, younger generations are not sure how much welfare pension insurance they will be able to receive.

Despite the fact that we are flowing in a precarious and unequal age, one thing which is equally given to everyone is “time”. Whether you are rich or poor, you have 24 hours each day. However, as I go on reading, I thought even “time” is eaten by someone in this society. For example, company men (kaisha ningen), who work too much and devote their personal time like evening, weekends, and leisure time to their company, seem to live their time less. In addition, according to Asahi newspaper (2014, April 28), Japanese female high school students spend 6.4 hours on average using a smart phone each day (this number is three times as much as that of seven years ago). They are facing its small screen for one-fourth of a day. I feel it is becoming true what happened in “Momo,” written by Michael Ende; the grey gentlemen steals the time of humans.

When I think about myself, I can say that I am living my time. I am studying what I want to, and I have friends and family, whom I feel comfortable being with. Therefore, I feel it can be said that having your time is often related to being at ibasho. Abe (2011) says that ibasho is a lifeline (inochi-zuna) to maintain people’s lives, and people who you trust in are there. When you imagine your ibasho, you should come up with several places or spaces. You may imagine your family, school, working place, your room or favorite café. Abe (2011) indicates this shows that you have various kinds of “you”, and “you” differ depending on ibasho. He also says that you are consisted of multifaceted “you” and supported by ibasho, maintaining your life in relationship with other people.

In conclusion, I want to make person-to-person relationships with people I have met and I will meet, and cherish my ibasho as a space I can be myself. Though precarious facts are shown in Allison’s book and some of them may happen to me,

ibasho would be my lifeline to survive this age.

References

Abe. M. (2011). Ibasho no shakaigaku [Sociology of Ibasho]. Japan. Nihon Keizai shinbun press.

Allison. A. (2013) Precarious Japan. Duke University Press.

Tenohira no sumaho [Smart phone on the palm] (2014.April 28). Asahi newspaper.

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Finding my ibasho at work, without becoming a kaisha-ningen

JaPan kaNto

JaPan kaNto (Photo credit: ~Alia~)

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

by Ayaka Sasaki

My future plan is to become a hotel employee after graduating from Ritsumeikan. To realize my future plan, I am working at a hotel as a part- time job. When I refer to my future plan, many people say that job in hotel is beautiful and sophisticated, but it is not. I know that it is not so beautiful and rather unsophisticated. Because, even though I work part–time, I feel  the precariousness that Anne Allison describes in her book. However, I only work at the hotel, so I can’t refer to other jobs.

For example, I felt that some male employee, especially those who became a manager or a chief of the department, are divorced. There are a lot of reasons, but I felt that some got divorced because they were kaisha-ningen (company person). The harder they work, the further the distance from the family becomes.

In addition, the system of the job in hotel depends too much on the non-regular employees, as part-time workers or dispatch workers. The reason why I feel so is that there are a lot of affairs which can’t be dealt by the regular workers. In Allison’s book, furita are referred as a symbol of the non-regular employee and precariousness.

However, I realize that I am in an ibasho by belonging to the organization, a hotel, as Allison wrote, even though I am a part–time worker. I work as often as regular workers, so regular workers or managers frequently say that I am a big help to their affairs. They approved, so I felt that I am in ibasho and my ibasho is the hotel. The feeling or impression of approval brings the feeling of ibasho.

Therefore, the wages are not so high, and the affairs are not so easy or light, but many non-regular workers work at the hotel because they can feel ibasho.

Moreover, I guess that workers who divorced have become kaisha-ningen because they can feel that they are in ibasho—where they are approved by the company.

Finally, I think that the situation doesn’t change in the future, and the feeling of ibasho relies on belonging to the organization, group and company. Then also it rely on the approval by others. However, in ibasho, I’m not content with the environment, and don’t want to bury my personality. Therefore, I have a plan after becoming a hotel employee—becoming a sommelier.

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The influence of women’s social advancement in Japan on my future plan

The Great Wave off Kanagawa

The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

Anonymous student post

My academic interest in the IR field is peace and conflict studies, post- conflict peace-building, and the Middle East. One of my future dreams is to give peace education and human resource development for children in conflict areas by offering some artwork and developing it into critical thinking. In order to do so, I need to improve my own knowledge and skills. Therefore, I am planning to study abroad at the post-graduate school of London University, SOAS, after graduating from Ritsumeikan University. I have not decided yet whether to take a framework-making approach such as working for an international organization, or a grassroots approach, such as local staff of a NGO. However, in either way, certain period of work experience in companies is likely to be required, therefore I would once get a job in a company to have some social experience.

I think one phenomenon that Anne Alison pointed out in her book Precarious Japan, women’s social advancement in the workforce, might affect my plan at this stage. According to the statistics of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, 34.2 percent of Japanese women (one in three single women) aged 15-39 wishes to be a housewife. Similarly, survey conducted by the cabinet office shows that 51 percent of Japanese people answered that it is ideal for men to work outside as a breadwinner and women to be a housewife. This number increased by 20 points, compared to the number of the survey in 2009, among the age of 20 to 30 years old.

This tendency is due to the despairing situation for female workers to develop a career steadily in their jobs, and the recent economic stagnation. According to Anne Alison (2013), irregular workers are those who are the most precarious in Japanese society because they have minimal rights and protection, and can easily get fired. Women make up 70 percent of irregular workers, and have the worst status by experiencing the worst gendered disparity of all industrialized countries.

Although Japanese society is becoming a result-based employment, women suffer from likewise disadvantage of employment even in regular employment and full-time work. It is based on underlying sexually biased premise that men are the breadwinner and women stay home as a housewife (Alison, 2013). They only earn about 67 percent of men’s salary and around 80 percent of working women makes less than 3,000,000 yen a year. Also, 44 percent of working women receive less than the minimum wage of the year and the number of women staying in professional jobs is remarkably low. The percentage of women having managerial posts is considerably low as well. Moreover, 80 percent of women workers retire after giving birth to her first child (Allison, 2013).

In conclusion, when I look at this current situation, I guess it may be very hard for me to get a highly paid secure job and advance my career in a company, especially when I am planning to ultimately move out and change my job to work in international cooperation. Therefore I have anxiety about whether  I could successfully become economically independent from my parents and pursue my dreams at the same time. In other words, I have to work very hard not become a parasite single.

References

Alison, A. (2013). Precarious Japan. Duke University press.

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (March, 2013). Wakamono no ishiki ni kansuru chousa [statistic on youth’s consciousness survey]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.mhlw.go.jp/file/04-Houdouhappyou-12605000-Seisakutoukatsukan- Seisakuhyoukakanshitsu/0000022200.pdf

Gender Equality Bureau cabinet Office. (April,2012). Dansei ni totte no danjo kyoudousannka [Survey of male’s consciousness on gender equality].Retrieved from http://www.gender.go.jp/research/kenkyu/dansei_ishiki/pdf/chapter_1.pdf

 

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Establishing economic and human relationships

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

Anonymous student post

There are two aspects when I consider my future plan: one is about job and economic situation, and the other is about family and human relationship. Firstly I will focus on my work plan, and secondly I will explain my family plan.

I am thinking of becoming a journalist as a full-time worker, which means I have to do job hunting. However finding a job is becoming more difficult these days because of the deep depression and irregular employment problem. Therefore, I am considering two ways to realize my dream. One way is to do job hunting while I am a university student, and the other way is to go to a graduate school, study more about journalism and do job hunting. I have already decided which company I would like to work for as a regular employee, so I do not really care the process to get in the company. Actually, the Japanese present economic situation has affected my decide of a company. These days, it is usual for women to get job and work even after they get married and give birth, so I will work as long as possible.

My second topic is about my family plan in the future. Since I am going to take care of my parents when they get old, I have to live with my parents or live close to my parent’s house. This decision may make it difficult for me to find a partner, but I want to get married with a person who has a regular job and have my first baby before I am thirty, when I have enough energy to take care of the baby. I will share the housework with my husband, as both of us will continue to work. I may have to go back to work in one year or so after giving birth, but I will try to make time to spend with family. It is said that the connection between family is becoming weaker and actually the similar thing is happening to my family now, so I want to keep the family relationship good and strong. I want to make home as each family member ibasho, the place which everyone want to come back and feel comfortable. No matter how difficult it is to keep balance of work and housework, I will try hard to live a happy life.

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Avoiding becoming a Christmas cake

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

by Yuri Muramatsu

In the future, living in Japanese society may become much more severe. As Allison mentioned in her book, Japan has a lot of issues that have huge effects on our future.

First of all, Allison argued that Japanese became muen shakai (relation less society). I have some anxiety for this muen shakai situation. There is possibility that I will suffer a solitary death. I also have suspicions about Japan’s society.

First, I do not want to get married if I am over 25 years old. If I would be a “Christmas cake,” I would abandon some hope for marriage. In my opinion, I cannot be a mother if I am over 25 years old because it is difficult to raise children.

There are two main reasons. The age of 25 years and over is the important age to stabilize the position in the company that the time to be entrusted with important tasks. I do not want to miss this chance. Moreover, if I get married after the age of 25, I will give birth after the age of 26. This means I would have to take a maternity leave after 26, and that I would go back to company after 27 or over. However, taking maternity leave is difficult sometimes. This is the second reason. If I married someone over 25 years old, I would not have a chance to have children. I cannot believe this system.

In addition, it is unfair that the men should work and earn money while women should protect the family. Allison indicates that Japanese people tend to make this style of family. Women should be housewives and men should work and earn money. On the other hand, I want to continue working all through my life, even if the company tries to cut me because I am a woman.

I would like to get a job that has relationship with the Japanese social insurance system. I think Japan faces ikizurasa (difficulty of living) now, so I am happy if I could relieve this feeling. I believe that social insurance system can change Japan. Japanese society does not have a good system to support people in need. This situation directly connects ikizurasa.

That is why I want to get a job that can be changing the severe situation of Japan. Many people feel ikizurasa. I do not want to be a housewife but at the same time I would like to cherish human relationships to prevent falling into a muen shakai situation. I think my ibasho will be my local town, friends and work.

Although Japanese society may getting more worse in the future, I want to fight against an unfair society and rebuild a new system. At the same time I try to value opportunities for communication.

 

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Balancing plans for work, travel, and family

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

by Arisa Kato

My future plan starts from now. My dream is to take a job at a travel agency because I love traveling and encountering foreign cultures. Therefore, I’ve been studying for a certification of travel consultant. It is one of national qualifications in Japan and this requirement would help me to get regular job in the tourist industry. I don’t want to be haken (contract worker) while I’m single because I desire to make my work place my ibasho. So I need something strong to win the job hunting. In addition to study for the qualification, I will go Spain and Mexico to study Spanish while I’m a university student. Not only studying the language, I’d like to learn culture and tourism of Spain and Latin America.

After I get a job successfully, I will work as a tour conductor. I will guide travelers in Japan and all over the world. Even more, I have been thinking of making a plan that participants can experience daily lives in the countries. So I’m also interested in organizing tours.

In my plan, I will get married around thirty. It is because I want at least two children. If I could, I will have three. I wish the first is a girl. This is because girls tend to take care their younger brothers and I hope for going shopping and a café with my daughter someday like me and my mother. While the children are little, I might take a rest from or quit my job to bring my sons and daughters. I think family must be the most comfortable ibasho for children and mothers have responsibility for making pleasant ibasho for their families. Therefore I’ll be concentrate on housework and mothering.

After children grow up, maybe when they go on to junior high school, I want to return to working. If there is a chance, perhaps I may return to a travel agency. However, it can be useful to be a haken. Although it is irregular working and insecure, part time jobs usually allow workers to choose the time when they work. So I can adjust a schedule to suit other private events and appointments. From this point, irregular work is good for people who have plans in their private lives.

After I get older, I’d like to live in countryside. If I may be allowed to wish so much, I desire to live abroad. Anyway, I would like to find good partner who apprehend me well because there are so many things I want to do.

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Enjoying work and family

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

by Yuri Kamino

I have not made a concrete plan about what I’m going to do in the future, but I vaguely imagine that in the fourth year I will fight against the glacial age of hiring, work for a company, marry someone, have babies, raise them and in the latter half, I will live a slow life with my husband, many grandchildren and dogs.

Job hunting is waiting for us and as many classmates have said, it becomes more difficult to get good work without enough knowledge. For university students, I think it is quite natural to hope to find good or top-rank work and live a better life because it costs a lot to go a university, so they desire to get work that corresponds to the money they have spent. However, personally I think it is not necessarily important to be employed in what is called a first-class company. Of course I want to get a better job, but for me, it is more essential whether I can enjoy the job at the company and handle both a career and raising children.

I have two points for my job hunting. One is that can the company be my ibasho. These days, the number of people who work oneself to death is increasing. More and more “kaisha-man or woman” sacrifice their holidays and private time. They also suffer from stress among their companies. I don’t think these situations can never be my ibasho. Maybe I will relate to the company for a long time, so I wish to keep a good relations with them.

The other point is that whether the company has a sufficient system for women to concentrate on both their job and childcare. Today, more and more women are doing great things in society, but there are still many companies which treat them as less important because they tend to retire from their jobs or take long vacations when they marry and give birth. As established by law, we can take childcare leave until our child reaches the age of 1. However under these companies, I could not pay much attention to my child. I strongly hope to build family with boundless love and wish it can be ibasho for my children.

I think that for children, family is the most important and for me, a job is essential to live more worthy life so, I am eager to seek for a way which I can meet both.

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