A disjointed family seeks unity in Tokyo Sonata

Tokyo Sonata

Tokyo Sonata (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Masatoshi Yamamoto

Tokyo Sonata is a movie that shows us a recent ordinary Japanese family. The Sasaki family appears in this movie. Ryuhei, Megumi, and their 2 sons make up the family. This movie starts with a tragedy of Ryuhei. He was working at a company, and he was a department chief. However, suddenly he was fired by his boss because the company decided to set up a new operation. Ryuhei did not talk about it to his family, and he pretended to go to work every day after he lost a job. Nobody in the family knows about his joblessness because he wore a suit and left the home typically. But Megumi who is Ryuhei’s wife saw him receiving a soup ration in a park.

In this family, there were some problems other than Ryuhei’s joblessness. Both 2 children had what they wanted to do. The older son wanted to join the American military, and the younger son wanted to go to a piano school. However, Ryuhei disagreed with them, and he had a very strict authority in his family. Megumi had no opinion of it. Because of the dictatorship of Ryuhei, the family started to break up.

This movie has no happy ending, but I felt that this disjointed family may be able to become a united family through this ending. In the halfway of the movie, both Ryuhei and Megumi wished to start their life again because their family broke apart. How can they rebuild their family?

Ryuhei made a lot of sacrifices in his life to keep the social system in Japan going. He was working very hard at the company, and he did not have enough times to spend with his family, and he often worked late. He tried to contribute to the society and economy. However, he couldn’t receive enough benefits from the company. Moreover, suddenly he was fired, so he lost his ibasho both in the society and his family. People work hard and contribute to the society, but it is obvious that there are many people who cannot get enough welfares. I think that the traditional Japanese society system should change. For example, the labors should be guaranteed their positions more in their company.

In conclusion, I thought that probably there is a relationship between family and economy through this movie. Many people work hard, and they don’t have enough time with family. From this, the relationship in the family may sour. Therefore, if the economy starts to get worse, the number of families which have breakdown of relationship may increase. In our future, we will depend a great deal on the society and economy.

Reference

Tokyo Sonata. 2008. The Media factory Inc. from: http://www.mediafactory.co.jp/tokyosonata/

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Can We Start Over Again?

Tokyo Sonata

Tokyo Sonata (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anonymous student post

We watched Japanese movieTokyo Sonata” in the class. This movie strongly appealed to us that how the Japanese society is. In particular, it focused on one family which is a normal one in Japan. But existing problems which brothers had have come to the light and their father was fired. In other words, one trouble causes another one. Their mother suffered from them. And all of them seeks their new ways in this story. As the most interesting point, they not only act as members of a family, but the film shows the actual example that Japanese people have now.

I can say that this movie relates to Anne Allison’s book deeply. In short, this shows how Japan is precarious. For instance, their elder brother was like typical young person of today in Japan. Like Allison says, many young people do not have hope or dream for the future. And they do not know what they want to do or should do. Finally he joined the American army in the movie. Moreover, their father who was fired by his company was also important. He met with some misfortune; dismissal, the death of his friened who was in the same situation, coming out of his dismissal and being a contract worker. Halfway through the movie, the family seemed to be about to split. However, they wanted to start over again in spite of such a bad situation. But I have a question. Can the loser really start over again in Japan?

In the movie, they understood the situation they were in and stood together again. But how is it in this real world? Now Japanese society is regarded as a strict society. In terms of failure, if someone makes some mistakes, he/she can not get over them. So people try to avoid the risk and seek safe lives. When such lives collapse even if they are safe, they fall in panic. Many Japanese will try to hide the fact if they lose their job. In the movie, in fact, several contract workers were wearing suit before working despite they did not need to wear. This scene means Japanese care too much about appearance. They never want others to know the dismissal.

In conclusion, I think Japanese society have to be more tolerant. Of course, I know that people are too tired to give a helping hand to others and all they can do is to support themselves. So we must aim to let this society be like that. And then loser will try again easiliy. Failure is not big thing.

References

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Tokyo Sonata. 2008. The Media factory Inc. from: http://www.mediafactory.co.jp/tokyosonata/

Tamagotchi, prosthetic sociality, and starvation in Japan

English: My very own Tamagotchi.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Masanori Takino

Author Anne Allison created the concepts techno-intimacy and prosthetic sociality when she heard “if I don’t feed it, the dog dies. It’s utterly dependent on me.” (2013:101). The definition of prosthetic sociality is “electronic goods that attach to the body and keep users continuously plugged into circuits for information, communication and affect” (2013:101). Allison mentioned that in present Japanese society, family ties have become weaker and weaker. Tamagotchi can describe how the Japanese family ties is in the present situation. As you may know that, to keep the game of the Tamagotchi, the player has to keep feeding until the pet in the screen died. Someone have to continue feeding the Tamagotchi so it will not be starved.

Techno-intimacy or prosthetic sociality is, of course, an issue in the present Japanese society. One of the example is the starvation incidents (2013:103). As the author pointed out, “the incident has triggered warning bells all over again of the ‘heartlessness’ of the times and a society that has lost its humanity. A situation of life and death, of mendo (care of daily living) coming undone.” (p.p. 103). Weakening the ties with own family and community has been outstanding by the incidents.

The ties with the family, community have been loosened by the changing of society. The author criticized the starvation incidents by using the word “heartlessness.” It cannot make sweeping statements, only the word, “heartlessness”. There might be the other reasons of the incident of starvation having happened. For example, about the feeble connection with the neighborhood, even if the people live in the same apartment, they are not figured out who lives in the next to their room. Can people borrow or give money to people who do not well? Of course no, people cannot do such things to who do not know. It is far difficult to depend on easily. Moreover, those incidents should not be blamed the around the people or the community, but also the victims themselves. “Of hesitance in seeking out help even by those in dire need” (2013:103), if the issues which the people faced were too serious, they should rely on their relatives no matter how slight their connections were. Therefore, the problems cannot deal with only the word, “heartlessness.”

Reference

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

The state of modern family in Japan

Tokyo Sonata

Tokyo Sonata (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anonymous student post

Tokyo Sonata is the story of modern Japanese family. The family consists of four persons, the father Ryuhei, the mother Megumi, the older son Takashi, and the younger son Kenji. This type of family is popular in modern Japan, called kaku-kazoku. The film tells about the present state of Japanese family and from a breaking down to a rebuilding of the family.

In the opening of the film, the father gets fired from his company and the company employs a Chinese person instead of him, because Chinese workers work for cheaper wages than Japanese workers. Therefore, he lost his job and he couldn’t get income expect for a retirement payment.

After he lost his job, he could not say it to his family and he pretended as going to his company everyday, because he had a pride as a father of the family. In middle of the film, the story continues on with the breakdown of the family. The younger son started lessons of piano and he was recommended entering the music school from the piano teacher, but he refused the proposal because he thought his father opposed to this. Then, the father went to a Public Employment Security Office to get work  and he finally got a job as a sanitation worker in a shopping mall, but even this he hid from his family.

In this point, it can see that he regarded the people who lost jobs and work in low wages as embarrassed. One day, when the mother was home, she was attacked and taken as a hostage by a robber. The some day, the father had an accident and he was injured, and the younger son was arrested by police officers because he got on a bus without paying the fare. The next day, they came back home separately. After in this time, the family began lunch on one table without talking and asking, so anyone knew the events happened for themselves. In the end, the parents went to a music school because they see the physical skills test of their younger son to enter the school. The son showed talented performance and audiences was attracted by his recital. At last, the parents and son left the school after the son’s wonderful performance.

I think this film shows the state of modern Japanese family and economy. Anne Allison said the state of family is changing and breaking down. This phenomenon relates to not only people’s way of life, but also even economy. In this film, a Japanese worker lost job because Japanese company promotes employment of foreigners. It caused by globalization and cut in labor costs. We know there are many people who lost job or home and it becomes the problem in Japan but to improve the problem complex and difficult because many facts connect to this. But the ending of film, the breaking down family rebuilds little by little. Anne Allison also said the most important things for people are economy and family because these make ibasho and support the life of people Therefore, in conclusion, family is important place for people and to keep peaceful, but to that end, people should need the stable economy in Japan.

Reference

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Tokyo Sonata. 2008. The Media factory Inc. from: http://www.mediafactory.co.jp/tokyosonata/

Japanese fixed concepts and weak relationships

Tokyo Sonata

Tokyo Sonata (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Misaki Kosaka

First of all, while Anne Allison’s book refers to the homeless and they have merely lost their home materially, Sasaki Ryuhei, who is a main character in the film Tokyo Sonata, has lost his home space mentally. That is, he has no place inside of his home. After WWⅡ, family roles in Japan have been rigid, such as “sengyo shufu” or the breadwinner of the family. Especially, the fixed view that a husband should work very hard for his family is an idea accepted by most Japanese. Ryuhei could not tell his family the fact that he was fired due to this fixed idea. He acts as if he is still working, wearing his suit and having card holder after his dismissal because being at home without any jobs of a husband is often recognized as ashamed things in Japan. Ryuhei’s former classmate who was fired like Ryuhei was even sets his cellphone ringing in designated time. They were afraid that people around them, especially their families, find out they have lost a job. Husband or father in Japan have to be just existence as people imagine. Ryuhei rejected a work as cleaning man and hoped a work people there wear suits at first, then it is also a kind of the fixed concept of people in Japan or himself.

But such an idea is not only a cause of not telling the truth but also of a weak relationships. In Allison’s book, Japanese tend to seek their identity at workplace and have few connections with their family or neighbors. The characters in this movie also put their place on workplace, so Ryuhei would feel to take away “ibasho” when he lost his job, and he could not tell the truth his family because of disconnectedness and incommunicativeness. Allison says that this family is “ordinary” in Japan.

In this movie I was most impressed by the scene that the family gather and start to eat a meal. This scene seems to be ordinary family’s life, but I felt something strange because although they are sitting in front of same table, they hardly talk each other. We generally think that they don’t need to gather for a meal if no one speaks, but I guess that sitting around the table with one’s family keeps a few relationships, and it may be only evidence that they are “family” even if nobody speaks. This strange sight can be seen in any Japanese home. Japanese are losing a spiritual home.

Reference

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Prosthetic sociality building new senses of home

by Minami Ichiji

“Prosthetic sociality” means the transformation of human relationships in 21th century Japan: warm sensibility is getting to be less fleshy. Anne Allison (2013) explains “In an era of material accumulation and sterile decorporealization (datsushintai), young people who “float” the waves of “net society” have “informationalized bodies.” That’s to say, they communicate with one another mainly by “social network services” (SNS) for example, Facebook, Twitter, and Line. Allison also uses “techno-intimacy,” that is “an intimacy premised on care and built into technology” (Allison, 2013) to literally focus on technology. She sees robots, Tamogotchi and Pokemon as techno-intimacies. I find some examples of it. “Bishoujo” (beautiful girl) and “renai” (romantic love) games, players meet bishoujo or ideal partner and go out with her/him on an electronic screen. They establish imaginary relationship through this play.

Allison refers to techno-intimacies, “this is a play that, while mulitifaceted and complex, turns on fostering sinews of attachment that burrow into the nervous system ‘as if humanly interactive, even social”. I agree with her analysis, prosthetic sociality is meaningful concept. “The paradox of the vanishing social today: the kinds of human connections that bring warmth have also come to seem annoying” (Allison, 2013). She points out this paradox is stirred up structurally, accompanies with the advance of technology and “shifting in constant, competitive, and intense labor”, she says is spreading all over Japan. I consider this phenomenon as the issue, prosthetic sociality and techno-intimacy play an important part in it.

Reading chapter 4 of Precarious Japan, I notice that there was a sign which would lead to the paradox. Before the destruction of the family-corporate system, according to Allison (2013), under the trend that “aspirational adults treat their kids as investments for the socioeconomic marketplace, the young people he (psychiatrist Serizawa) treats as hikikomori are emotionally stunted, hungry for a kind of love they rarely get from parents overly focused on achievement.” If the abandoned youths should meet a chance to get a robot or a game, they would rush to these prosthetic tools.

In a struggling recession, more and more people are hired as unstable labor. It is hard for them to have the opportunity to spare time for “the soul”, “the time to touch a mother with Alzheimer’s or to shelter a child getting bullied at school or to simply enjoy the rhythm of slow eating with friends” (Allison, 2013). As the author remarks (2013) “a nuisance coming from ‘existence utterly depending on me’ also drives people to prosthetic sociality, dog and tamagotchi will die without perpetual caregiving”.

Although, what I see as the most serious issue is the paradox I state above. To be specific, anyone feels lonely can seek human connection. And then, affording to pay for a maid café, a hostess and a game, they can buy some kinds of easier “home” and go their house. There are desperately lonely people who have nowhere to go and lack money, like net café refugees. No exception, this can happen to anyone.

Prosthetic sociality is created as new and ultimate way of organizing home.

References

Allison, Anne. (2013). Precarious Japan. (pp.52,100-101,106,118). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

The connection between Tokyo Sonata and precarious Japan

Tokyo Sonata

Tokyo Sonata (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Yume Furumura

Tokyo Sonata is a movie which shows a breakdown and a bit of hope in an ordinary family in Japan. There are a lot of messages of this movie, but I’d like to analyze it focusing on “ibasho” and “jiko sekinin” of the ideas in Anne Allison’s book, Precarious Japan.

Allison writes “If only we have hope and respect, we can live. But without a secure means of existence, many today have no place or sense of home at all [ibasho].” In this movie, each member of the family looks for their own “ibasho”. For example, Ryuhei (the father and husband) lost his job, but it was the only ibasho for him. Then, he starts to pursue his new ibasho. The other members of the family also search for it. However, Allison has doubts about Japanese’s having problems of “ibasho”. She says as follows, “instead of finding shelter for their dream making, many feel exiled but not to anywhere else as much as to nowhere at all?” It does not necessarily mean that all Japanese don’t have their house. However, if it is a form-only house, it doesn’t occupy their mind. In fact, the family of the movie has a house, but it is just the house for them. It was not ibasho.

The older son loses “kibo” (hope) because he cannot find a good job and believes that he will never be acknowledged by society in Japan. The son got tired of the structure of Japanese society, kakusa shakai. Therefore, he decides to be a soldier in America for finding a new ibasho and for his family. Ryuhei was strongly against what he tried to do. However, the son went to America with “jiko sekinin” (self-responsibility). According to Allison, “Couched in a rhetoric of ‘quality of life’ and ‘living independently,’ this turn to individual responsibility (jiko sekinin) and return to family or household is the signature of government attempts to privatize care and cut back on state spending.” Even if the son dies in America, the government of Japan wouldn’t do anything, because it is his (the son’s) jiko sekinin. In fact, Megumi tried to confirm her son’s safety, but she couldn’t do even that. If I were in the son’s shoes, I would probably think that whatever the outcome, it is better to go to America than live in disgrace in Japan.

I was surprised at the close connection between the movie and what Allison’s book says, because it is a Japanese who made the movie, and it is a foreigner who wrote the book. Japan has been thought as a rich country by people in other countries. However, a lot of Japanese feel that they are not happy now, and the perspective of the future of Japan may start changing. I want Japan to be the society that all of the people can have hope, and I expect the hopeful story will be made next.

Reference

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Japanese issues in “Tokyo Sonata”

Tokyo Sonata

Tokyo Sonata (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Tomohiro Doi

In class, we watched the film “Tokyo Sonata.” This movie showed issues in Japan. A man was fired and he looks for work but he cannot find it. In his family, he tried to hide that he was fired. And his family became hopeless and worse than ever before. Then his family members broke up and relationship of that became weak. He frantically tries to bring his family together. However, his family still broke up.

I think this movie shows the modern Japanese society faithfully. The minority which is no job people and fired people are despised by the majority. A certain people were driven to suicide. And then I think this movie displayed not only unemployment but also all problems in Japan.

In Anne Allison’s book, Precarious Japan, an important issue in Japan, especially the breakdown of family is described and it is connected with this movie. Allison interviewed the Marxist sociologist Adachi Mariko. She argued about this problem appropriately. She said that the Japanese stereotype that is male work outside female stay at home as housewife has broken down. Therefore the male as breadwinner broke down. And the man’s family corporate system has ended little by little.

Allison said that the family corporate system linked a particular structure of work to one of family and home. However, this system have changed. In this movie “Tokyo Sonata,” the man behaves as a breadwinner male and worries about himself authority in family. But he was found out to be unemployed and work as a non-regular employee. Allison wrote about hope for the breakdown of family. In this book, it was about Tamura Hiroshi, who is a Japanese talent now. In his middle school student time, his family broke down. In his family, his mother died two years ago and his father brought up his two children. However, he could not work and he abandoned his two children. In the movie, father could not work and looks like to break down his family.

Now, the break down of family could connect with a case. In these days, a certain man divorced and broke down his family. And he was not able to bring up his son and to kill him. Like this, like “Tokyo Sonata,” this breakdown of family may connect with a crime and disintegration of relatives.

About denizenship and refugeeism

Anonymous student post

Denizenship and refugeeism lead people to seek belonging. I think belonging has a good point and a bad point, so it is difficult that I decide whether belonging is good or bad. In a good point, belonging gathers people and produces a sense of solidarity, because people can share their emotions and information. When people get intimate with one another, they can get connectedness in the belonging. In other words, they can get ibasho. In a bad point, people in a belonging may have a stereotype, because belonging usually makes a specific concept. If people stick to a concept, when they know different concepts, they will have difficulty understanding them.

In current society of Japan, people have to get belonging to spend their average daily life safely. In other words, if people can’t get belonging, they can’t earn decent wages, and they are danger of life such as homeless. Generally speaking, becoming a permanent employee, or so-called seishain, connects to a safe and stable life. That is why a lot of people want to be a permanent employee.

However, for some people such as foreigners, handicapped people, single parents, furitā, and so on, it is difficult to be a permanent employee. They often work as temporary workers or contract workers. They earn a low salary, and don’t compensate social security system, so they struggle every day. In Allison’s book, Yuasa notes, ”postwar Japan bred its own form of welfare that depended on the corporation and family and organized little public welfare itself” (2013, p.58). Once you are laid off your job, you can’t come back your former status in the current society of Japan, which Yuasa describes as “sliding down society” (suberidai shakai) (2013, p.58). The gap is expanding more and more.

Under this circumstances getting belonging is finding a permanent job, because the government don’t take sufficient welfare policy, so people have to stand their own two feet. In addition, other relationship of human except work disappears. For example, you don’t know the face and name even your neighbors. In this society, people will not be able to ask for help. To avoid isolation, people are eager for belonging unconsciously, and this anxiousness sometimes people make believe a bad concept or a cult such as Aum Shinrikyou, I think.

In conclusion, your life depends on your job as Allison quotes Amamiya, “ikizurasa (hardship of life) is connected to poverty and labor issues” (2013, p.65). In my opinion, it is essential to get belonging for getting good jobs.

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My future plans

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 Masatoshi Yamamoto

I am 19 years old now, and I will graduate from this university in three years. After graduating, I will become a member of the society. However, it is hard to be a regular worker now. There are a lot of irregular workers in Japanese society. Their life is very unstable because of their jobs. It is one of the serious problems in Japan. You can see that Japanese society is very precarious through the book, so I feel uneasy about my future.

First, I am worried whether I can get a stable job. I don’t want to change my work. The employer can discard and replace irregular workers. Therefore, I think that if I become an irregular worker, I will have to spend with the anxiety every day. I don’t know what kind of job I want to get in my future, so I cannot have an enough image of my future. However, I want to be a regular worker and have a stable life.

Second, where is my ibasho (a place of security and stability)? I think that it is my family. I feel very comfortable when I am with my family. My parents are very kind to me. Thanks to them, I could grow up, and thanks to my sister, I can enjoy with her at my home every day. Therefore, my family is very important existence for me. In my future, I also want to have my family, and it will be my ibasho. Of course, my friends are also important for me. I can enjoy my university life with them and help each other when we have problems. I think that the relationships with friends in university life are essential because the relationships will continue from now on.

Through Precarious Japan, there are a lot of serious problems in Japan such as kakusa shakai, hikikomori and muen shakai. I have never experience these feelings because I am rich in friendships and have nice family. I go to university every day and communicate with many people. My parents support my family, so I can have plenty of money. I think that I am really in a lucky circumstance. I have to appreciate for people around me, and I also think that ibasho is necessary for each person to solve the problems such as withdrawal. It will help us when we have issues. Every people should earn each places.