Father’s Day in Japan
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We've all been guilty of forgetting to celebrate Father’s Day at one point or another. I certainly have, especially when I was a kid. I clearly remember being 7, and spending 2 weeks on a little handmade gift and a card for my mother, but the next month, I was slapping together paper and glitter at the last minute in the hopes my father wouldn’t notice I had forgotten about him.
Somehow, it doesn’t carry the same weight that Mother’s Day does, especially here in Japan.
But whether we like it or not, celebration or not, Father’s Day is now part of the Japanese culture and is therefore worth us talking about it — even though one may argue that it’s more commercially so than anything else.
Father’s Day arrived in Japan well after the 1980’s, even though it was first celebrated in 1910 in America by the Central Methodists Episcopal Church. It was the brainchild of a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd from Arkansas, who went on to become the mother of Father’s Day.
Dodd was one of six siblings born into the Smart family, all of whom her father, civil war veteran William Jackson Smart, raised on his own.
In 1909, after hearing a sermon about Mother’s Day, Dodd thought it not right to go without thanking the male parents in our lives as well. Dodd asked her pastor to do something similar in honor of fathers everywhere and initially suggested June 5, her own father’s birthday. But due to unforeseen circumstances, the pastor gave the sermon on the third Sunday of June. Hence the modern date to celebrate Father’s Day today. This year, Japan celebrates it on Sunday, June 19.
Father’s Day arrived on these shores in full swing, with the modern “money-making” scheme trailing close behind it. As you can imagine, it took Japan by storm, with children and their mothers taking hard-earned cash to buy something special for their breadwinner — assuming he wanted something other than that money in the bank. Men are difficult to shop for.
According to Japanese website Iroiro WeBNote, there is often a large gap between what the children think their fathers want and what the fathers actually want. There were a dozen or more things listed on the survey chart, but the one that stood out to me was – cards! Yes, handmade cards! The fathers of Japan actually want simple things that can’t be bought with cash: the scribbles “papa arigato” (thank you, daddy) on scraps of paper. Other “most wanted” on Japan’s dads list included food, liquor (yes, it’s all about the beer), clothes, followed by cash or vouchers. Surprisingly, the following data from Iroiro Webnote shows a certain discrepancy between what father want and what their kids think they want:
Gourmet foods: (kid gives) 25.9 percent vs. (dad wants) 23.2 percent
Alcohol: (KG) 22.8 percent vs. (DW) 14.8
Clothes/fashion: (KG) 22.6 percent vs. (DW) 12.1
Cash/cash vouchers: (KG) 6.7 percent vs. (DW) 7.9
Necktie: (KG) 2.8 percent vs. (DW) 6.8
Sports related goods: (KG) 2.6 percent vs. (DW) 4.9
Wallet: (KG) 1.7 percent vs. (DW) 4.6
Handkerchief: (KG) 1.4 percent vs. (DW) 3.0
Letters/cards: (KG) 0.9 percent vs. (DW) 10.5
Watches: (KG) 0.7 percent vs. (DW) 2.4
Miscellaneous: (KG) 11.9 percent vs. (DW) 9.6
So, do you know what your father wants for this year’s Father’s Day? Good luck with shopping for that perfect present!