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By Abito Ito; Kokusai Kyōiku Jōhō Sentā

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Additional info for Aspects of Japanese culture and society : an anthropologist's view / [written and prepared by Ito Abito]

Sample text

The ability of chônai to function as local communities can be attributed to the lack of mobility of their residents. In Korea and China, the degree of mobility was much greater than in Japan; even 34 in the cities, residents maintained a tight network formed by relatives of the same patrilinear descent and natives of the same district of the country, while in China, organizations, resembling guilds, of persons in the same trade functioned in addition to these. In Japan, on the other hand, there was a closely knit system of mutual aid within the chônai , where people of all kinds of occupations lived together.

The tea ceremony and flower arrangement, for example, already had their iemoto system in the Edo period, but the huge centralized, hierarchical organizations seen today were made possible partly by the new approach to such traditional accomplishments, constituting part of the new "national culture" in the towns following the Meiji Restoration, and in particular by the firm place they established for themselves as polite accomplishments naturally expected of women. 41 Learning and Education Education in contemporary Japan can be roughly divided into popular traditions handed down since the Edo period and the school education newly introduced following the Meiji Restoration.

Nowadays, all households living with the locality, and not just merchant families, are considered as members, and though many of the traditional roles of self-government have been taken over by official administration, basic matters are still, as in the past, decided at meetings of the heads of families. One of the most important annual events is the Shinto shrine festival carried out over a wide locality with the various chônai concerned cooperating. In traditional towns in the provinces, there are many cases where the festival of the shrine whose god might be seen as the tutelary deity of the whole town is carried out with the several chônai working in overall cooperation.

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