Local Neighbourhood Association (Chonaikai )
Congratulations and Condolences
Good neighbourhood relations are one key to smooth, peaceful, pleasant living in Japan. Though this holds throughout Iwate, it is particularly true in outlying areas. You may find this invasive or frustrating at times, but maintaining friendly relations with your neighbours is one effective method to limit troubles and misunderstandings.
However, it is both important and perfectly acceptable to politely refuse things which are incompatible with your personal beliefs, even when such things might be presented as “local custom”.
Local Neighbourhood Association
Wherever you live there will always be a local neighbourhood association, commonly known as the chonaikai. Important for local social relations and improving the living environment, the chonaikai represents an administrative block determined by the local municipal body. Information from the municipal body is often passed on through the chonaikai network.
Becoming a member of the chonaikai is essentially optional, however in the interests of maintaining good neighbourhood relations it is perhaps advisable to join. Besides social events, chonaikai undertake maintenance of the local environment (including keeping the area clean, overseeing the waste collection points, maintaining street lights, and maintaining community centres). It might be said that membership and participation in your local chonaikai is the price to pay for the benefits you reap.
Membership fees for chonaikai vary but most are around several hundred yen or so a month. You may also be asked to take part in fundraising activities, and in some cases to serve as a chonaikai officer.
Chonaikai also run a children's clubs to promote healthy, social maturation for local children. Normally aimed at elementary school children, the children's clubs organize a variety of activities (including collection of recyclable resources) during the winter and summer holidays.
Congratulations and Condolences
Weddings and funerals are among the most important events in life, and often involve many friends, associates, and neighbours.
At celebratory events such as weddings, it is customary to give cash placed in a special envelope for monetary gifts, as a present on the day of the event.
A Buddhist ceremony is the most common form for funerals. On the night a person dies, or in some cases the following night, there is an all-night vigil at which close relatives and neighbours come together. Following that a funeral is held. When attending a funeral it is customary to make an offering to the deceased by placing money inside a special black and white envelope. While it is acceptable to wear smart-casual clothes to the all-night vigil, men should wear a black or dark blue suit and tie and black shoes and socks to the funeral, and women should wear a black mourning dress and ensure that any accessories have no gold or silver anywhere on them.
Although municipal offices organize the clearing of snow from public roads, snowploughs are often slow in reaching, or may even never reach, some areas. In these areas local residents must work together to clear the roads.
Read and pass on the massage board
(kairanban) in a timely fashion.