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While doing some reading of old questions, I stumbled upon the term 村八分【むらはちぶ】, which is apparently means ostracism. I'm curious what the 8 parts (八分) are and how this relates to ostracism.

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During the Edo period, villages traditionally had 10 communal activities:

  1. 冠 - 成人式 - coming of age ceremony
  2. 婚 - marriage
  3. 建築 - helping with building/repairing
  4. 病気 - helping when sick
  5. 水害 - helping during flooding/water damage
  6. 旅行 - travel
  7. 出産 - giving birth
  8. 年忌 - death anniversaries
  9. 葬式 - funeral service
  10. 火事 - fire fighting

However, when you are subjected to 村八分, the other villagers would only help you with 葬式 and 火事. You would not receive help with the other 8 activities. Additionally, you might be also not allowed access to communal grounds for foraging etc. The reason that funerals and firefighting are things you could receive help in is supposedly because of health reasons/forgiveness after death for the former and because fire could easily affect other villagers. Before the Edo period though, apparently you might not receive help in the case of funerals either (not sure about fires).

Although 村八分 has become rare, it still happens, though undoubtedly in a different form than in the past. The reasons for being subjected to 村八分 are various and most stem from not following communal norms; one notable incident happened in 1952 in Shizuoka-ken when a girl spoke out against local electoral practices.


References:

  • the other villagers would only help with 葬式 and 火事 and would not help with the other 8 activities Does this mean that the person themselves decided not to participate in the other 8, so then the village ostracized them for not being a helpful member of the community? Or they were first ostracized for other reasons, and thus only allowed to participate in those 2? – istrasci Feb 4 at 15:39
  • @istrasci I think not participating in the 10 activities could be reason to get ostracized, but that also that one can get ostracized for other reasons (see the Shizuoka-ken girl). – Ringil Feb 4 at 17:32

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