For backpackers the most affordable and popular accommodation is always
a dormitory room of Youth Hostel. I lessened chance to stay dorm nowadays,
although still be there from time to time. Through my quarter century experiences
of dorm stay I felt a significant change. It's sharing a room with men
The first YH for me was the phoenix, Arizona in late 80s. I remember the
rooms were separated by men and women. I think it's same for other hostels
in US. However in 1995, the YH where I stayed in Netherlands had mixed
room. When I opened the room door, I saw a group of women. I thought I
got a wrong room. Of course it wasn't. The country of human rights were
After that, in Portugal, France and Japan, dormitories were single-sex.
However I got mixed room in Germany in 2007 again, also in China in 2010.
Then it became standard to me. It means "A dorm is public space. Keep
a good relationship with your room mates no matter who are men or women"
I guess. I got to think whether the YH dorm was mixed or not is a sign
for how gender issue was thought in the country.
Then I came back to Japan and felt big difference from the other countries.
Women-only car on the train, single-sex education, annual contest between
male and female musician's team on TV, stereotypes of gender ... I wonder
the dormitory in Japan has changed since 15 years ago when I stayed last
But Japan has a gender segregated culture traditionally. I have grown up
in the society. When I was kids, child's play was different between boy's
and girl's. Popular TV animation was different. So was sports. A pack of
candy with toy said for girls, or for boys. In junior high school, schoolboys
learn industrial arts while schoolgirls learn homemaking.
Although now a days the situation is so much changed, I heard. They, male
and female, do a same sports. They study together both industrial arts
and homemaking. They watch a same TV animation. They got same chance to
However Japanese have never complained about this gender segregated society.
On the contrary, a female TV announcer is treated as an idol of the channel
while male announcer is never done. Bringing camera is in trend among Japan's
girls. They are spotlighted as "Camera Girls" although there
is no spot lighting for "Camera Boys". The reason is simple.
Peoples thought is based on the stereotypes "Camera is brought by
man" Apparently the thought is out of date. But Japanese, both men
and women, accept it and say no objection for the situation. They even
In gender equality of Western standard, the relationship on a live and
let live basis would be brown off. I've never heard like "Camera Girls"
"Beautiful Prez." or "Female doctor" there. In public
situation they are treat as unisex. That' why it becomes a problem that
a president mentioned the looks of attorney general. In Israel, men and
women equally have a duty of military service, I heard. Once things happen
they go to the field without excuse "Because I 'm a man or woman"
I think it's very hard for Japanese to quit the gender segregated culture
which has a thousand years history, and suddenly accept the western standard.
On the other hand, Japan's gender segregated culture attract huge funs
from the world. Girls who is tired of the unisex products in western world
are attracted by Japan's "Kawaii(pretty)" character goods, for
example. TV animation enthusiasts are devoted to Costume Play. Meanwhile
in Muslim country, I often met schoolgirls who were huge Japanese girl's
So as a conclusion, does Japanese need quick change toward the Western
gender equality standard? I don't think so. The change should be based
on the people's thought and needs. The change may go slowly. I recall I wrote a same thing in Muslim country issue before.
On receiving the results of international statistics "The ratio of
Japan's female executives and diet members to the male is much lower than
intl standard" Japanese government declare increasing the number.
But it isn't matter of numbers. With this kind of thought "Let's make
more women's dormitory" they will never get to the goal, Western gender
equality. They must be the industrial arts OR homemaking in junior high
As I told at beginning, Japan's young generation get a new and liberal
education. As the young are getting majority in the society, people's thought
will be gradually changed. May be the thought of mixed room will be understood.
So what is the government's role? Leaving off gender gap from Japanese
law, stimulating the economy, giving equal choices between both sexes are
the elements the government should do instead of "Brilliant Woman"
" Military service " Jerusalem 2010