For better or Worse_ Arranged marriages still Thrive in Japan by runout


									Arranged Marriages Thrive in Japan
1. For most women, a marriage proposal is usually a reason to celebrate.
But 29-year-old Masako Saito was not at all pleased when her boyfriend
asked her to marry him. Saito lives with her sister in central Tokyo and
enjoys a successful career as a fashion designer. Like more and more
Japanese women of her generation, being single suits her lifestyle just
2. Such attitudes are revolutionary in a culture where arranged marriages
                                       were once the norm and where
                                       women who don‟t marry by the age
                                       of 25 are sometimes called
                                       “Christmas cakes”—too stale for the
                                       market. Japan‟s “I May Never Get
                                       Married Syndrome” has prompted
                                       widespread debate on television talk
                                       shows, in newspapers and magazine
                                       columns and among older
                                       generations of Japanese shocked by
                                       the audacity of their daughters and
                                       granddaughters. Already there is a
                                       surplus of 2.5 million single men -
                                       some of them farmers who make
                                       annual pilgrimages to Tokyo, where
                                       they drive their tractors through the
                                       streets urging women to marry them.
                                       And statistics show that the average
                                       age of a women‟s first marriage is
                                       rising; today it‟s 25.8 (26.7 in
                                       Tokyo), compared with 24.7 in 1975.
The trend suggests that more Japanese women are fed up with their
traditional roles. “Women tend to express clear ideas about what they
want from marriage, whereas men still want someone who would manage
a family for them and be quiet and obedient,” says Setsuko Muramatsu, a
marriage counselor in Tokyo.
3. Arranged marriages are still common in Japan. Approximately a quarter
of all marriages are a result of some form of parental influence.
Prospective parents-in-law make a thorough investigation of their child‟s
potential partner beginning with the educational, financial and social
background. In some cases private investigators are used, particularly
when a family is preparing for the marriage of their first-born son. The
P.I. will check whether there is history of recurring illness, serious
indebtedness or foreign blood in the family of the future bride. The
 smallest inconsistency, such as one Korean grandparent, is sufficient to
 negate the whole arrangement.
 4. Although there are formal matchmakers the honorable meeting, or
    omiai, is often brought about by an important person who knows one or
    both of the young people searching for a marriage partner. He can be a
    respected family friend, a teacher, or even the boss of either of the two
    parties. These days lots of young people do omiai, literally, meet and
    look. In today‟s prosperous Japan, the traditional omiai kekkon, or
    arranged marriage, is thriving.

 5. A teacher of one of the schools in Tokyo was constantly consulted by
 a parent inquiring about his daughter‟s academic progress. Eventually
 he was told the real reason for the frequent visits. The parent was a
 very rich man who had begun his life as a son of a poor farmer.
 Almost illiterate he was a good worker who, by a combination of good
 business sense and luck, became a millionaire. Unhappily he had no
 son to inherit the business, but he did have two daughters. They were
 attractive, intelligent and well-educated. But in Japan‟s rigid social
 structure they had no social standing. The man asked the teacher if he
 knew a suitable groom, who, in exchange for a financial legacy, would
 raise his daughter‟s status in society.

 6. The teacher knew a Tokyo university graduate who was just beginning
 his career as a government official. He didn‟t have a girl friend and was
 27 yeas old, the standard age for marriage in Japan. An “honorable
 meeting" was arranged in a luxurious Tokyo hotel and the young couple
 exchanged their printed curriculum vitae whilst drinking afternoon tea.

7. A week later the young man visited the businessman‟s office. He
   wanted to get married and the girl, proved certain conditions were met,
   would make a suitable wife. He would need a monthly entertainment
   allowance enabling him to wine and dine his colleagues and politicians
   in the best restaurants in order to advance his career. His life would
   require a clothing allowance for his wife so that she would not have to
   wear the same dress twice when attending cocktail and dinner parties.
   Finally, there was to be a monthly allowance for his parents. The girl‟s
   father agreed to all three demands and arrangements were made for the
   marriage. Then disaster struck.

 8. The bride‟s younger sister went to Korea for a holiday and returned two
 weeks later with a husband. Racial discrimination plays an important
 role in Japanese life. All foreigners are considered inferior, but the
 Koreans are the lowest of the low. Because her sister foolishly fell in
 love with, and married, a Korean, the arranged marriage did not take

9. Finding the right mate is getting tougher even for those eager to marry.
   Professional matchmaking services have sprung up to help; many
   companies lure customers by providing personal counseling as well as a
 complex computer system to bring singles together. It also organizes
 more than 250 events a year - including dinner parties, tennis games
 and even overseas trips - to help members to meet. Last year the
 company took 35 women to New York to meet Japanese businessmen
 stationed in the United States.

 10.In the belief that a married employee is a more stable employee, some
 companies like Mitsubishi provide in-house marriage counseling and
 matchmaking services. But for a growing number of women such
 gestures may come to naught. “In the old days, I would have felt
 absolutely uncomfortable if I stayed single at my age,” says Kyoko
 Hirakawa, a 34-year-old businesswoman. “People would have talked
 about me behind my back. Now I work and make my own living.”

 Lead in:
 1. What is the best way to find a husband or a wife?

 2. Should you let your family to select a mate for you or should you date
    many young people and try to „fall in love‟?

 3. What do you think of matchmaking?

 Read the following descriptions of courting practices from around the
 world and decide whether they are used in Israel or not.
    Young people usually meet at a community center or through
     A young man can meet a young woman at her home only in the
      presence of her family.
     Young couples, who socialize by dating, go out for an evening
      alone together.
     Many young couples meet on their own at school, in the army or
      at the workplace.
     Sexual intimacy before marriage is often part of the process of
      selecting a future husband or wife.
5. If a married couple is not compatible, should they stay married or get

6. How important do you consider love as a reason for young people to
   get married?


1. Does the article begin with the general or specific?

2. At what point does it change? ________________________________

3. Many women in Japan don‟t marry young because_______________

4. What does the phrase “Christmas cakes” mean?__________________

5. Paragraph 3:
    i. describes marriage in Japan.
    ii. tells us how to arrange a Japanese marriage.
    iii. infers most Japanese marry for love.
    iv. describes interfering Japanese parents.

6. The word “prospective” in paragraph means:
    i. reliable
   ii. possible
   iii. impressive
   iv. eventually

7. The marriage will not take place, according to the context of
   paragraph 3, if
    i. a detective has been used.
    b. somebody has been unwell.
    c. an ancestor isn‟t Japanese.
    d. the marriage is arranged.

8. The function of omiai is___________________________________

9. The businessman really wanted his daughter‟s teacher to
    ( paragraph 5 )
   i. give her extra lessons.
   ii. inherit his business.
   iii. help her to study.
   iv. find a husband for her.

10. Even though the businessman is a millionaire, his daughters are
    considered to be lower class because _____________________

11. What did the young men ask the businessman to do?
    a. He asked _____________________________________________
    b. He asked _____________________________________________
    iii. He asked _____________________________________________

12. The marriage was canceled because __________________________

13. Which word in paragraph 3 means “the usual way of doing things”

14. Why does such a big company as Mitsubishi hire professional
    matchmakers and counselors?

15. In your opinion:
    i. Most people could find more than one person in the world with
       whom they would be happily married.
   ii. You should not get married just because you feel something has
        been missing from your life.
   iii. The male partner should have more money than the female,
       because it is his duty to look after her.
   d. Men should iron their own shirts.

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