Tel/Fax: 080-3207-6191

Gaijin Mama - Tanshin Funin

All Articles
Birthday Parties
Book Stores
Cleaning Secrets
Did you know? (8)
Did you know? (9)
Football In Japan
Gaijin Mama - 7 5 3
Gaijin Mama - New Year
Gaijin Mama - PTA Mama
Gaijin Mama - Potty Problems
Gaijin Mama - Shiny Kids
Gaijin Mama - Tanshin Funin
Gaijin Mama: Cram School
Gaijin Mama: Hello Kitties
Gaijin Mama: Sports Day
Gaijin Mama: Summer School
Gaijin Mama: The Bike Brigade
Gaijin Mama: Valentines Day
Gajin Mama: Holiday Season
Gajin Mama: What's for Lunch
Hot Tips
Hot Tips: Issue 6
Hot Tips: Issue 7
Martial Arts in Japan
Photo Tips
Roving Rep: Issue 4
Roving Rep: Issue 5
Roving Rep: Issue 3
Roving Rep: Issue 6
Roving Rep: Issue 7
Roving Rep: Issue 10
Roving Rep: Issue 11
Roving Rep: Issue 12
Roving Rep: Issue 13
Roving Rep: Issue 14
Roving Rep: Issue 15
Roving Rep: issue 9
Roving Reporter
Shopping: Gotemba Mall
Shopping: Hypermarkets
Shopping: Mashiko Pottery
Shopping: Palette Town
Swimming Lessons

Louise George Kittaka is from New Zealand and is a freelance editor, writer and teacher. She lives in Japan with her husband and three children.

If a Western friend said that she and her husband were living apart, you would probably imagine the worst—another marriage on the rocks. In Japan, however, this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, many wives might think that such a situation could even improve a marriage. Confused?

A Japanese husband living apart from his family is so common that there is a special term for it—tanshin-funin. My electronic dictionary offers the eloquent translation “business bachelor.” Transferring employees around from branch to branch is common practice at many Japanese firms. Most people move at the end of March in time to start their new positions from April, which is the beginning of the Japanese business year.

My neighbor, Miyako, found herself facing a similar situation this time last year. In mid-February, her husband was told he would be working at the Osaka branch as of April. (According to Miyako, this was actually a fairly generous amount of notice!) The family has two school age children, and the older one had started preparing for entrance exams for junior high school. Miyako and the children decided to stay in Tokyo, and so just Dad went down to Osaka. “Anyway, it’s only for three years and Osaka isn’t that far away,” said Miyako matter-of-factly.

When I first got married, the term tanshin-funin left me cold. How could a family split up like that? Three kids and more than 10 years down the track, I have changed my outlook somewhat! From last summer, my husband became tanshin-funin, too. In our case, it wasn’t a transfer, but rather a move to an entirely new company. His new firm is located over two hours away, and the commute time would be too much. Moreover, the company is slated to relocate to either Tokyo or Yokohama in a year or two, so there will be another move eventually.

The decision to split our family like this was not one we made lightly. However, taking into account the children’s activities, our house loan, and my own work situation, it seemed the best choice. And, on a practical basis, it is not much different from before! He was frequently away on business trips, and when he was in Tokyo, he came home so late that he couldn’t be there to help with the kids. (I see a lot of you nodding out there.) We do get to see him most weekends—when he isn’t jetting about here or there on one of his trips.

There are advantages, too! If I don’t feel like cooking, then I can just take the kids out to McDonald’s, and dinner is done. After I put the kids to bed and clean up, then the place is MINE! Nobody comes in and starts flicking through the TV channels just as I’m about to listen to a CD. I have learned to appreciate my own company—something that many busy mothers don’t get to experience.

Miyako and I were chatting the other day.
“So, how’s the tanshin-funin thing going?” she inquired.
“Well, maybe this doesn’t sound very nice…but actually, it isn’t bad at all!” I admitted.
She grinned. “Yep, I know exactly what you mean! And when he does come home, it’s a bit like being newlyweds again, isn’t it!”