Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Marriage in Japan hr634

on September 19, 2020

I went out for lunch with my partner at a cafe the other day that stood across the train station in a Japanese desolate rural town where I live. To call it a cafe is a bit too fancy. It’s not the likes of Starbucks but rather a small old mom-and-pop diner that was built well over 30 years ago and remained as it was, which perfectly matched this old town itself.
We sat at the table and overheard a conversation from the table next to us. Three old women in their eighties sat around the table by the window. “She has passed away, too.” “This could be the last time we get together.” Although they were exchanging a downright sad conversation, they were talking in a matter-of-fact way and their chats were lively.
While we were eating a salad with watermelon that came with our main dishes of curry and rice with a fried pork cutlet, a family of three came in. A boy about ten years old and his parents in their thirties sat at the table near ours. As soon as their orders were taken, the boy started reading one of comic books that the diner placed for customers, and his father went outside to smoke. His mother was staring into space.The father came back in when their dishes arrived on the table but they didn’t talk while they were eating. Except that the parents occasionally said something to the boy separately, there was no conversation between the parents. After they finished eating, the father went out again to make a phone call, the boy played with diner’s puzzle toys, and the mother stared into space again. I saw through the window the father talk with someone over his phone pleasantly while smoking and laughing. He came back in and also began to play with a puzzle toy. I thought it was much more fun for him to have lunch with a person on his phone.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Quite too often, I see a married couple having almost no conversation at a restaurant. I wonder if people stop talking each other when they get married. While they must have clicked each other enough to get married in the first place, what makes them fall silent? Since I have never been married, I have no idea whether it’s because they have changed or they have lost interest in each other after marriage. The closest married couple I know is my parents, which means my knowledge about marriage is a generation old. My parents are from farming villages in Kyoto that is the oldest city in Japan. According to the old custom, their marriage was arranged by their families’ intention not their own. Inevitably, they were strangers with no affection whatsoever. In my childhood, my mother used to say, “I wouldn’t have married such an ugly guy like your father unless he had money.” Times have changed, and people get married by their own will in Japan. Nevertheless, if a couple who liked each other finds it difficult to talk once they marry, I don’t understand what marriage is for. The mystery deepens still more.
The family of three left hastily after they were done with the toys and staring. The party of three old women ordered refills of their soft drinks repeatedly and lingered at the table with their conversations, as if they were reluctant to leave the diner.


24 responses to “Marriage in Japan hr634

  1. This is certainly a well-written post full of insightful commentary on people and the times in which we live.

  2. Very interesting observations .. to a degree I blame mobile phones and computers.

  3. Brian Hardin says:

    Great observations about the people in the diner and connecting what you saw with your conclusions about marriage. Thanks for posting!

  4. Leslie says:

    Hmm…I have seen this too but could not have written about it as eloquently. I have been married for ten years and it seems, for us at least, there is an ebb and flow to our closeness. There is an underlying respect and love that keeps us bound but certainly at times the busy-ness of life is tiring. I look forward to reading more from you!

  5. What you don’t see at the Diner are the conversations that took place beforehand, and the conversations that have been taking place for years over the course of the marriage. With all that has been said before, sometimes it’s okay not to talk a lot in one particular instance. I don’t know if that was the case with this couple, but it’s something that I’ve seen in my marriage.

  6. ourcrossings says:

    Most people know the positive sounds of silence – the mutual experience of sharing time and space together without saying a word. Many couples also know the silence that reflects tensions or disconnections. Splendidly written, my friend! I enjoyed your observation skills and felt like I was there in person. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

  7. I liked this post. Japan is such a beautiful country in all seasons.

    • Hidemi Woods says:

      I’m glad you liked it. I wonder how did you get to know Japan’s seasonal beauty. Thank you for your comment!

      • I visited Japan many times between 1985 and 1995 on business at different times of the year. I love the parks at cherry blossom time when families all go to the parks to appreciate that beautiful time. I also loved the rural areas and the ocean view from the mountains overlooking Tokyo coastline.

  8. cat9984 says:

    You write beautifully. I am not Japanese (I live in 5the US), but I think we’re all pretty much the same. In my case, we both continued to grow after we got married, but it wasn’t in the same directions. We had two children (25 & 23 now). We really didn’t have anything in common except when we talked about the children. I think many other couples may find themselves in a similar situation.

  9. neilirving says:

    All relationships go through changes, my wife and I have been together for over 24 years, we definitely had some difficult times, but the kids and horses have kept us busy and enjoying each others company 😊

  10. After almost 43 years together, I find some silences comforting and others tension filled. Those that have tension, to me our, our God’s way of teaching us to speak the truth in love. To me that is very hard to do and generally requires some degree of suffering. The depth engendered can elicit more sensitivity towards each other. To me it is a challenging journey that requires the grace of God.

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