Intra-cultural variation in child care practices in Japan

Noriko Toyama*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study, comprising three sub-studies, aims to examine how child-rearing practices vary according to different social circumstances in Japan. By comparing teacher–child interaction at mealtimes in day care centres both on an isolated small island located in Okinawa prefecture, Tarama, and in a large industrialised city, Tokyo, the following was shown. In Tarama, teachers, children, and their families were familiar with each other before the children's enrolment, while in Tokyo, it was typical that they first met when the children entered the centre. Such differences in social relationships were reflected in teacher–child interactions at mealtimes. First, in Tarama, ownership distinctions at the table were not so rigorous compared to those in Tokyo, implying that the teacher–child lunchtime in Tarama was similar to a home-like private situation. Second, in both Tarama and Tokyo, teachers encouraged children's eating by giving various kinds of assistance, but their approaches were different. Teachers in Tokyo paid much attention to improve children's eating skills, while in Tarama, teachers placed more weight on ensuring primary functions of mealtimes. The results indicated that child care practices were deeply rooted in social communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1873-1892
Number of pages20
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 1


  • Child care
  • mealtime
  • scaffolding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics


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