Friday, May 11, 2007

Thirty years ago

I saw a young girl and her sister with their parents the other day in Isetan, the department store of choice for young, hip families in the Tokyo area, probably shopping for Children's Day (Kodomo no Hi), which was last Saturday.

They were looking at clothes in the kids section where designer T-shirts and jeans are sold with price tags to the tune of 25,000 yen or more.... Japan Times Online

Kaori Shoji writes about some of the differences in children's lifestyles between now and 30 years ago.

I wasn't living in Japan 30 years ago, but I certainly remember my first visit at about that time. And I know what my wife's childhood was like through her stories and old photos. It has been a huge change in the Tokyo area. People tend to believe that the Japanese are rich or at least fairly well off. This isn't completely true today, but 30 years ago, it was even less true.

I grew up in a pretty rural, isolated part of the U.S. but all-in-all, my family was much better off than my wife's lower-middle class family. They were relatively lucky in that they had a house and did not have to live in a flimsy apartment (I mean apartment, not the so-called "mansion" of Japan. Mansions are better built and more expensive.) They could not afford a camera, so the photos she has are from her schools or the occasionally photo taken by a friend whose family was wealthy enough to afford a camera. Naturally, her family owned no car, and hardly ever traveled outside Kanto. Japan in the 70s and earlier was not rich. One could argue that most folks were poor, especially compared to Americans.

Given that, it is amazing how far the country has come in that time. It's easy to criticize trade policy, education, "Japan Inc." or other things, but it has worked out pretty well so far for Japan.

No comments:

Post a Comment