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The Japanese wife of my Caucasian nephew scrubs the entire...

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Question by sam
Submitted on 4/9/2004
Related FAQ: American misconceptions about Japan FAQ
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The Japanese wife of my Caucasian nephew scrubs the entire house after each visit of her in-laws.  Because of this "need" for scrubbing, they now have been told they may never visit house again. They are very depressed -- wish to visit their son, his wife & grandson. Why have they been banished?  And why is Japanese wife scrubbing house?  

Answer by Pumpkin
Submitted on 9/27/2004
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I'm a Japanese female often visiting the parents' house of my American boyfriend.  

It sounds terrible that your nephew's wife rejected her in-law in that way, but I can relate with her.  Let me explain something to you.

I understand that the degree of cleanness is different individually.  In our country, we appreciate tidiness of household, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as floor which doesn't permit outside shoes.
When I first came to the US, I didn't even want to sit down on the couch where others went on with their shoes.  Living in the dirty house is disgusting idea, although the dirt is not that obvious, but actually walked with outside shoes that might step in the bathroom floor!!!    

I often notice the toilet in my boyfriend's parents house is far from clean, which discourage me to visit there.  They don't care, so I don't say anything but wiping rightly whenever I use the bathroom.  However, I can imagine when I marry to my boyfriend in the future, I don't want to have them over for extended time period.  Because I don't have to make them trash my household like they do in their house.


Answer by Jap Psych!
Submitted on 9/29/2004
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They wore shoes in the house and have toenail fungus!


Answer by bitter gaijin
Submitted on 11/28/2004
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Because the Japanese wife has a psychological complex.  A neurosis bordering on psychosis. The Japanese culture supports and nutures this mental illness that everything must be super-super-super clean, and that dirty foreigners are just that...dirty. The ironic thing is that places that you would expect to be clean, e.g. doctors and dentists offices, restaurants, etc. are remarkably dirty, on average. To put it all in perspective, this is a nation where you can purchase a product to deodorize your feces. That's right, we'd hate for your *poop* to stink, and possibly offend someone else's delicate nasal passages. Never mind the fact that the majority of the country is not on any sewer system, so particulary during the summer, the place stinks like an outhouse.

Your nephew is in for a really tough ride, because he will have to be insanely "clean" and "perfect" for the rest of his life, or his bride will nag and nitpick him all day long, every day. Also, regardless of what other activities may have been like prior to their marriage, he can assume that they will stop soon, assuming they haven't already. The image of the Japanese wife as a quiet, demure, saint-like figure is no longer true, assuming that it ever was. Being a member of society is extremely important to the Japanese, so much so that being separated from it is devastating for most. Your niece-in-law is retreating to one of the most annoying habits of the Japanese - excessive cleanliness. Since you are not Japanese, none of you will likely never be able to be clean enough in her eyes. Try inviting the troublesome parties over to either your house or the grandparents house.  The wife can choose to come or not.  Don't be offended if she doesn't, especially after she has come once or twice.


Answer by DRBB
Submitted on 2/20/2005
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Obsessive compulsive disorder
Rx paxill 20 to 40 mg qd* 30 days 12 refills


Answer by passerby
Submitted on 3/11/2005
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I don't think it's anything related with being Japanese. It's more often related with some psychological disorder ("obsessive compulsive disorder"). People suffering from this illness often have strong urges for doing things like not stepping on the lines, constantly tidying up their desks or clothes, eating or throwing up you name it. They cannot control this behavior when the triggering occurs for ex. whenever they see a line they just  have an uncontrollable urge to not to step on, if they step on it by mistake (which rarely happens btw) they really feel bad about it, they get stressed and depressed. It may even trigger violence or panic attacks.

Obsession for cleaning is usually the most common thing for the people who are suffering from this disorder. It is possible to treat it.

I used to know some women (non-Japanese) who are suffering from this disorder who scrub their house every other day.


Answer by Deh
Submitted on 9/4/2005
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In general Japanese people are very clean and orderly. Take those shoes off before entering house. We believe shoes worn outside carry filth and bad spirits that can be tracked into your home. Westerners don't think of this concept. Wife may be scrubbing up after they leave because Westerners often are not as conscious about washing hands, wearing shoes indoors, nor taking showers or baths as frequently, and possibly wearing play or work clothes in the house.   Cleanliness is not just a sanitary issue for Japanese; it is a spiritual one too!


Answer by Dudanation
Submitted on 11/2/2005
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Japanese women are crazy about appearance because they want to please the men. Typically, a Japanese man is a shovanistic, perverted scum who will punish his wife for not making his appearance to guests perfect. She has learned to cooperate and please him by nature in fear of the rape-like activities the men have performed on them in the past. If your nephew is to put a stop to this, he must start beating her senselessly when she begins to cleaning process so that she will unlearn what she knows by nature. Or he can sit back and enjoy the fact that she cleans everything very well.


Answer by BSouther
Submitted on 11/16/2005
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Despite stumbling across this question long after it was posted, I feel compelled to point out that there is no reason whatsoever to assume that the behavior of your nephew's wife is in any way related to race or culture.  What you are describing suggests that this woman may suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and/or another psychological condition, which typically are heightened under stress.  Unless you are the only stupid member of your family, the fact that you would leap to such an ignorant conclusion suggest that this woman probably encounters racial prejudice and feels great stress whenever her in-laws visit.  If she is OCD, obsessive scrubbing would provide a relatively constructive form of physical release for this stress.  But, regardless of whether my armchair diagnosis is correct, you should take a close look at yourself and your obvious prejudice.  For the sake of this couple's marriage, I hope they banish you, too.


Answer by dan2020
Submitted on 1/10/2006
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Japanese are traditionally very clean people.  For example it is a rule that you must take off shoes when inside the house and you must always take a bath/shower before going to bed at night (not in the morning) because if you don't things get dirt from the outside inside.  I'm married to a japanese woman and she keeps things very very clean.  I'm used it, but when friends come over they often don't want to take off their shoes and so this is a problem.  Maybe you nephew's in-laws didn't take off their shoes everytime they entered the house - this is just one example of things that Japanese people do to keep inside clean and outside out.  Also when people visit my wife cleans up a lot after they leave.  This is b/c people tend to bring in dirt from their place.  It's not an insult they do this when anyone comes -it's not just b/c they are caucasian.  

I think the question that you should ask is what they do that requires her to scrub after a visit.  can they stop doing this???  If so they can come over again.  


Answer by jeff
Submitted on 1/10/2006
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they need to be more generous and take off shoes and be more relaxed. this will help


Answer by Sam
Submitted on 2/16/2006
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Well, the scrubbing the house isn't all that unusual, but it usually happens before the visit.  My own wife (Japanese) tends to do a lot of floor-scrubbing as well (her choice, not mine).

However, it IS unusual that the in-laws have been "banished".  Without more information, it's hard to be sure what's going on.  How are relations between the wife and the in-laws generally?  Is she willing to visit the in-laws regularly?  It's possible she simply doesn't want visits from them, and is coming up with a creative excuse.  Although it would seem like this could be caused by animosity, it's not necessarily so.  She could simply be uncomfortable with them.  Think about other things, such as how well she speaks English, how long she's been in America, and how long her relationship with her husband has been.


Answer by kyoko gunterman
Submitted on 3/23/2006
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Well, from what I can guess, have you asked the wife if she likes her in-laws? Because if she doesn't, then that would explain her cleaning their germs/presence out of her home. To an extreme, it's the same concept as a raped woman taking a shower to cleanse herself. Her home is her home for *her* family, if the in-laws have really given her a hard time, treat her like an ignorant simpleton, or have done something she simply cannot forgive and/or forget, then her cleaning after they leave is her cleansing her sanctuary. It's also possible, if this is so, that she's repressing thoughts and emotions concerning them and releases those in the "scrubbing." Many Japanese wives are unable or not confident enough to speak up for one fear or another American husbands so it'd be perfectly understandable behavior to substitute those words with actions.  This can be considered a fault, but because the Japanese culture is very intuitive, she may expect her actions to speak very obviously therefore she doesn't need to actually express her thoughts or emotions in words; her actions do that for her.


Answer by Japan Guy
Submitted on 4/26/2006
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To the Japanese, it is a sign of respect. His wife loves him so much, that she is willing to clean his family's house. Cleaning is a sign of love and devotion. Besides, why complain about a free cleaning?


Answer by observer
Submitted on 12/19/2006
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im guessing they wear there shoes in the house
japanese usualy find that disrespectful


Answer by haruo
Submitted on 7/6/2007
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A friend's wife (not Japanese) had a similar problem. Washed her hands (and the sink and the soap) every five minutes. It is a nervous disorder. In the above case it may be a hatred of the in-laws manifesting itself in this manner, a subconscious desire to get them out of her life. My best guess...
They should meet elsewhere. A house visit is not essential.


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