The Role of Women in Japanese CultureFrom a western point of view, Japanese women are seen as being relatively subservient. While Japanese culture often does define a woman’s role within her society, a lot has changed over the past 150 years, which means that the submissive Geisha image is no longer completely accurate.

Japanese women in the family

Traditionally, Japanese women who are said to follow the path of being a good mother and wife are called ryosai kembo. However, while it may appear that Japanese Culture has these women standing gracefully in their kimonos, their household role is entirely dominant behind closed doors. Those who do not take on a working role outside of the home are pulling the reigns behind closed doors, and are often the key decision makers and caregivers.

Japanese culture changes following WWII

The biggest changes to the role of Japanese women in their society came following the events of World War Two. Like women from all countries embroiled in the war, Japanese women were forced to take on what were once traditionally male roles in order to keep the country running. This turn of events meant that following the war, women slowly turned away from adopting their traditional roles, to becoming more independent. Today, it is not unusual to find Japanese women ruling in the business world, or walking through the halls of their university wearing casual outfits like jeans and t-shirts.

A choice between two worlds

Thanks to the freedom brought to Japanese women in the events during and after WWII, today they have the freedom to choose between two worlds. Unlike many other countries around the world, Japanese culture still exists despite great modern advances. This means that it is not unusual or unpopular for a woman to adopt the traditional geisha role, and they still have the freedom to head down a less traditional path should their hearts drive them towards doing so. Many can even choose to have the best of both worlds, taking on the role of a geisha behind closed doors, and that of a modern woman publicly.

Picture: Elwynn – Fotolia