Children’s Work and Chores in the Household

Interviewees recalled doing chores and helping with household and farm work in a variety of ways. One of the most common tasks, particularly for girls, was looking after infant brothers and sisters (komori). Children were expected to do this because parents were likely to be busy with their own work around the household and farm. Other tasks that were commonly remembered included filling the bath with water (often from the well or from a nearby river), heating the bath with firewood, and cleaning. Interviewees brought up in farm households recalled a wide variety of farm work, which varied according to the local crops. In areas growing rice and barley, it included work such as rice planting, weeding, harvesting, helping with the drying of unhulled rice, and treading barley. In an apple growing area such as Aomori, it could involve tasks such as spraying apples with pesticide, and putting protective bags on them. In silkworm raising areas such as Nagano, interviewees recalled having to pick mulberry leaves, feeding them to the silkworms, and cleaning the silkworm containers. Children might also have to cut grass for animal feed in houses that kept a horse or ox for farm labour.

Peter Cave

How to Cite This Source

Peter Cave, ‘Children’s Work and Chores in the Household’, in Childhood, Education and Youth in Modern Japan [add URL and access date].