Posts Tagged Japan
According to an article in The Economist, many women in Asia are now rejecting marriage because, although more of them are now working, they are still expected to fulfil the traditional domestic role. The example given is that of Japanese women who will often work outside of the home for 40 hours a week and then spend another 30 hours on housework.
30 hours? That’s more than 4 hours a day. I thought a lot of Japanese people, in the cities at least, lived in appartments or favoured minimalist design such as this –
Now, as some of you may know, I am not a fan of housework and tend to be economical with the vacuum cleaner and a damp duster, but even I could tackle a room like this without fear. Look – no dust collecting ornaments, shelves, books, lampshades, radiators, firplaces – hardly any furniture at all in fact! No rugs, no dogs, no people, no sign of life. I see now where I am going wrong.
Perhaps if I get rid of the stock waiting to go into my vintage shop, ditch the candlesticks and baubles, tear out the log burners and install underfloor heating, kick the kids out, slide the ‘closed’ button on the cat flap and take the dogs down to the rescue centre – my house could look as clean and tidy as this even without spending 30 hours a week on housework.
Flippancy aside, I know not all Japanese people are quite so minimalist (or have what appears to be a mini swimming pool in their bedroom) but 4 hours a day? What do they do? Or, once again I must ask the question, ‘is it me?’
As a footnote – the same article says that, as opposed to the 30 hours a week spent on housework by the women, the men do only 3 hours a week – now, that’s more like it.
My friend Maggie has always been passionate about fashion, design and sewing which led to a career as a fashion buyer for Marks & Spencer. Inspired by a family wedding which took place in Japan, Maggie has been collecting kimonos, both vintage and new for over 10 years. She has become very knowledgeable about oriental culture and as her collection of kimonos grew so did her understanding and appreciation of the traditional symbols and images used on them.
This knowledge of Japanese imagery and silk textiles has developed into an unusual “day job” as a kimono interpreter. It is so interesting listening to Maggie explaining a particular image or design and if, like me, you are tempted to become the owner of one of these beautiful items, it makes it even more special to know a bit about the culture behind it. I have a silk haori jacket which I wear belted and also a garment which is more like a coat but I wear that belted as a dress as I love the beautiful silk,the designs and the sleeves but prefer a fitted look.
Maggie fulfilled a long-standing dream last month and visited Japan where she met with suppliers and enjoyed the beauty of the kimono in its own surroundings. She has been newly inspired, made some new contacts , strengthened relationships with existing ones and returned with some more beautiful silks and yukata cottons in her luggage (excess baggage had to be paid of course!!)
Maggie has a shop in which she offers vintage kimono, Japanese silk and cotton fabric for use in dressmaking or crafts and also some items she has crafted herself by adapting the oriental culture to fit in with the western lifestyle.
I always find Maggie’s enthusiasm about Japan so infectious and I’ve encouraged her to start a blog because she has so many interesting things to say about Oriental culture in general, and kimonos in particular, that I think people will really enjoy reading it.