SENPAI (先輩, "earlier colleague") and KōHAI (後輩, "later
colleague") are terms from the
The relationship is an interdependent one, as a senpai requires a kōhai and vice versa, and establishes a bond determined by the date of entry to an organization. The kōhai defers to the senpai's seniority and experience, and speaks to the senpai using honorific language .
* 1 Concept * 2 History * 3 Terminology * 4 Prevalence * 5 Issues * 6 See also
* 7 References
* 7.1 Works cited
The relationship is an interdependent one, as a senpai requires a kōhai and vice versa, and establishes a bond determined by the date of entry to an organization. Senpai refers to the member of higher experience, hierarchy, level, or age in the organization who offers assistance, friendship, and counsel to a new or inexperienced member, known as the kōhai, who must demonstrate gratitude, respect, and occasionally personal loyalty. The Senpai acts at the same time as a friend. This relation is similar to the interpersonal relation between tutor and tutored in Eastern culture, but differs in that the senpai and kōhai must work in the same organization.
The relation originates in Confucian teaching, as well as the morals
and ethics that have arrived in
Over time this mechanism has allowed the transfer of experience and knowledge, as well as the expansion of acquaintances, to mainting the art of teaching alive. It also allows the development of beneficial experiences between both, as the kōhai benefits from the senpai's knowledge and the senpai learns new experiences from the kōhai by way of developing a sense of responsibility. This comradeship does not imply friendship; a senpai and kōhai may become friends, but such is not an expectation.
The Korean terms seonbae and hubae are written with the same Chinese characters and indicate a similar senior–junior relationship. The terms may have derived from Japanese, and may have had Chinese origins, though the senpai–kōhai relationship does not exist in Chinese culture. However, it is close to the system of sifu -student system of Chinese martial arts.
Demonstrating the use of the naginata at a sports festival in
The senpai–kōhai system has existed since the beginning of Japanese history . Three elements have had a significant impact on its development: Confucianism , the traditional Japanese family system, and the Civil Code of 1898.
Confucianism arrived from China between the 6th and 9th centuries,
but the derived line of thought that brought about deep social changes
The Japanese family system (家 ie ) was also regulated by Confucian codes of conduct and had an influence on the establishment of the senpai–kōhai relation. In this family system the father, as male head, had absolute power over the family and the eldest son inherited the family property. The father had power because he was the one to receive an education and was seen to have superior ethical knowledge. Since reverence for superiors was considered a virtue in Japanese society, the wife and children had to obey it. In addition to the hereditary system, only the eldest son could receive his father's possessions, and neither the eldest daughter nor the younger children received anything from him.
The last factor influencing the senpai–kōhai system was the Civil
Code of 1898, which strengthened the rules of privilege of seniority
and reinforced the traditional family system, giving clear definitions
of hierarchical values within the family. This was called koshusei
(戸主制, "family-head system"), in which the head of the household
had the right to command his family and the eldest son inherited that
position. These statutes were abolished in
The seniority rules are reflected in various grammatical rules in the
* Sonkeigo (尊敬語, "respectful language"): used to denote respect towards a superior with or of whom one speaks, including the actions, objects, characteristics, and persons related to this person.
* Kenjōgo (謙譲語, "humble language"): in contrast to sonkeigo, with kenjōgo the speaker shows respect to a superior by lowering or deprecating him or herself. * Teineigo (丁寧語, "polite language"): differs from the other two in that the speaker shows only to the speaker rather than those being spoken about. Use of the verb desu ("to be") and the verb ending -masu are examples of teineigo.
Sonkeigo and kenjōgo have expressions (verbs, nouns, and special prefixes) particular to the type of language; for example, the ordinary Japanese verb for "to do" is suru, but in sonkeigo is nasaru and in kenjōgo is itasu.
Another rule in the hierarchical relation is the use of honorific suffixes of address. A senpai addresses a kōhai with the suffix -kun after the kōhai's given name or surname, regardless if the kōhai is male or female. A kōhai similarly addresses a senpai with the suffix -senpai or -san; it is extremely unusual for a kōhai to refer to a senpai with the suffix -sama, which indicates the highest level of respect to the person spoken to.
At the international level the senpai–kōhai relation has spread through martial arts , in which the members of different kyū and dan levels are sorted by belt colour.
One place the senpai–kōhai relation applies to its greatest extent
The main reason for these humble actions is that it is believed that team members can become good players only if they are submissive, obedient, and follow the orders of the trainer or captain, and thus become a humble, responsible, and cooperative citizen in the future. Relations in Japanese schools also place a stronger emphasis on the age than on the abilities of students. The rules of superiority between a senpai and a kōhai are analogous to the teacher–student relation, in which the age and experience of the teacher must be respected and never questioned.
The senpai–kōhai relation is weaker in universities, as students of a variety of ages attend the same classes; students show respect to older members primarily through polite language (teineigo). Vertical seniority rules nevertheless prevail between teachers based on academic rank and experience.
The senpai–kōhai system also prevails in Japanese businesses. The social environment in Japanese businesses is regulated by two standards: the system of superiority and the system of permanent employment . The status, salary, and position of employees depend heavily of seniority, and veteran employees generally take the highest positions and receive higher salaries than their subordinates. Until the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, employment was guaranteed for life and thus such employees did not have to worry about losing their positions.
The senpai–kōhai relation is a cornerstone in interpersonal relations within the Japanese business world; for example, at meetings the lower-level employee should sit in the seat closest to the door, called shimoza (下座, "lower seat"), while the senior employee (sometimes the boss) sits next to some important guest in a position called kamiza (上座, "upper seat"). During meetings, most employees do not give their opinions, but simply listen and concur with their superiors, although they can express opinions with the prior consent of the employees of greater rank and influence in the company.
Outside Japan, the senpai–kōhai relation is often found in the
Japanese martial arts , though misunderstandings arise due
to lack of historical knowledge, and as the vertical social hierarchy
Despite the senpai–kōhai relation's deep roots in Japanese society, there have been changes since the end of the 20th century in academic and business organizations. Kōhais no longer show as much respect to the experience of their senpais, the relation has become more superficial, and the age factor has begun to lose importance. The student body has diversified with Japanese students who have spent a large part of their lives overseas and have returned to Japan, as well as foreign students without a mentality rooted in the Japanese hierarchical system.
The collapse of the economic bubble in the early 1990s caused a high level of unemployment, including the laying off of high-ranked employees. Companies since then first began to consider employees' skills rather than age or length of service with the company, due to which many long-serving employees lost their positions over being incapable of fulfilling expectations. Gradually many companies have had to restructure their salary and promotion systems, and seniority has thus lost some influence in Japanese society.
Attitudes towards the senpai–kōhai system vary from appreciation for traditions and the benefits of a good senpai–kōhai relationship; to reluctant acquiescence; to antipathy. Those who criticize the system find it arbitrary and unfair, that senpais were often pushy, and that the system results in students who are shy or afraid of standing out from the group. for example, some kōhais fear that if they outperform their senpais in an activity, their senpai will lose face , for which kōhais must apologize. In some cases, the relation is open to violence and bullying. Most Japanese people—even those who criticize it—accept the senpai–kōhai system as common-sense aspect of society, straying from which will have inevitably negative social consequences.
* ^ A B Blomberg 1994 , p. 203. * ^ A B C Kodansha 1994 , p. 310. * ^ A B Matsumoto 2005 , pp. 1480–1481. * ^ A B C D Davies & Ikeno 2002 , p. 187. * ^ Kopp 2010 . * ^ Panek 2006 , p. 135. * ^ Hassell 1983 , p. 61. * ^ Rubio, Brody & Castrogiovanni 2008 , p. 37. * ^ Brinton 2001 , p. 159. * ^ Sechiyama 2013 , p. 169. * ^ Davies & Ikeno 2002 , p. 188. * ^ Davies & Ikeno 2002 , pp. 188–189. * ^ A B C Davies & Ikeno 2002 , p. 189. * ^ A B C Matsuura & Porta Fuentes 2002 , p. 261. * ^ Matsuura & Porta Fuentes 2002 , p. 262. * ^ Matsuura & Porta Fuentes 2002 , pp. 263–265. * ^ Matsuura & Porta Fuentes 2002 , pp. 115–116. * ^ A B Sugimoto 2003 , p. 132. * ^ A B C D Davies & Ikeno 2002 , p. 191. * ^ Davies -webkit-column-width: 40em; column-width: 40em;">
* Blomberg, Catharina (1994). The Heart of the Warrior: Origins and Religious Background of the Samurai System in Feudal Japan. Routledge . ISBN 1873410131 . * Brinton, Mary C. (2001). Women\'s Working Lives in East Asia. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4354-9 . * Davies, Roger J.; Ikeno, Osamu (2002). "Sempai-Kōhai: Seniority Rules in Japanese Relations". The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-3295-1 .
* Hassell, Randall G. (November 1983). "The Japanese Way". Black
Belt. Vol. 21 no. 11. Active Interest Media. pp. 60–64, 107. ISSN
* Kodansha (1994). Japan: Profile of a Nation. Kodansha
International . ISBN 4-7700-1892-4 .
* Kopp, Rochelle (2010-06-08). "Senpai & Kohai: In Japan, Experience
is the Best Teacher".
* v * t * e
Japanese social concepts and values
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