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Graveside Portraits of Japanese Families (Photos)Itō Masayo (Photographs)

What thoughts go through people’s heads when they visit the graves of loved ones? What news do they wish to share with their departed relatives? These photographs show Japanese families gathered together at cemeteries where they have gone to pay their respects.
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The Imperial Family as Postwar Role ModelYamada Masahiro

Since the late 1950s, when the fairy-tale romance of then Crown Prince Akihito and Shōda Michiko captured the public’s imagination, that much-admired couple—now the emperor and empress—has served as a role model for the postwar Japanese family. Sociologist Yamada Masahiro explores the way the imperial family has molded and embodied Japan’s changing mores, from the Meiji Restoration through the emperor’s recent statement on abdication.
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People in Twenties Less Marriage-Minded in Japan (News)

Tokyo, Nov. 2 (Jiji Press)—The shares of people in their twenties who hope to marry and have a child have declined, according to a recent National Institution for Youth Education survey. “The issues of economic disparity and poverty seem to dampen” young people's interest in making new families, said Yoichi Akashi, director of the institution's Research Center for Youth Education. The instituti…
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The Future of the Japanese Family: Diversification or Virtualization?Yamada Masahiro

The family as an institution has both a social and a personal function. It can facilitate an economically prosperous lifestyle while at the same time making it possible to live with loved ones and to satisfy one’s needs for affection. Until quite recently, these two functions in most industrial countries were fulfilled through a gender-based division of labor, characterized by a breadwinning husba…
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The Birth of Culinary Experts and the Evolving Needs of Japanese HousewivesAko Mari

The early twentieth century saw the rise of the fulltime housewife in Japan, which was paralleled by the emergence of culinary experts offering them advice. Social changes in the ensuing years have seen the roles of women and culinary experts change. This article takes a look at those changes leading up to the present day.
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Raising Pregnancy Awareness in Japanese SocietyJames Singleton

Walk down the street or ride a train in Japan, and you will often see a heart-shaped keychain bearing the image of a mother and baby dangling from a woman’s bag. Known as a maternity mark, this simple illustration informs others that the bearer is pregnant. Introduced by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare in 2006 as part of a broader program promoting maternal health, the mark has become a…
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Empty Homes: A Growing Problem for a Shrinking NationYoneyama Hidetaka

The number of unoccupied homes in Japan is rising. Some of these are dilapidated and dangerous structures, but outdated laws make it more advantageous for owners to leave them standing than to knock them down. Housing expert Yoneyama Hidetaka explores the issue and potential solutions for a country with a shrinking population.
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Festival of Friendship and Fortitude: Photohoku Brings Emotional Relief to Fukushima PrefectureDavid McMahon

A 50-meter-long nagashi sōmen stand was one of the many attractions at the festival. (© Miseon Park) It is perfect weather for a matsuri, and the air in the small coastal town of Shinchi, Fukushima, is abuzz with the hubbub of children frolicking and old folks gossiping. School dance teams and other performers entertain the crowds from a modest stage, and refreshment stalls offering local produc…
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Traditional Japanese Cooking in the Home: An Endangered ArtIwamura Nobuko

Washoku, the “traditional dietary culture of the Japanese,” was recently inscribed on the UNESCO list of the world’s intangible cultural heritage. Iwamura Nobuko, a researcher into food and family life in modern Japan, looks at what “home cooking” really means for people in Japan today.
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“Undōkai”: The Day for Sports in JapanMichael Schauerte

Once a year, quite often in October, Japanese elementary schools hold an event called undōkai, or “sports day.” This year was the fifth time for me to get up early on a Saturday to attend the undōkai at my daughters’ elementary school. The event is sort of a big deal in Japan. In fact, the yearly undōkai is the main reason I own an expensive camera equipped with hundreds of (largely unused) fun…
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