Every society faces the problem of transferring the set of identities, commitments and sentiments that center on the family to a set focused on some wider group or groups. In all of the industrial societies this transfer involves the movement of children into the system of formal education, usually preschools. Comparatively speaking however, Japan presents something that is especially problematic in this regard. Shields (1989) suggests that because of the intense indulgence of Japanese mothers, many observers are mystified by the relative ease of the transition of pupils from the highly charged home context to the fully demanding classroom environment. Lewis (1989: 140; see also Peak 1991a: 186) asks about the ways in which 'indulged' undisciplined toddlers become attentive and well-disciplined schoolchildren in large classes where subordination of personal needs to group goals is often the dominant norm. Tobin, Wu and Davidson (1989: 204) elaborate further by noting that at

home Japanese children learn to love and be loved, they learn the ways of dependence (amae), they learn dyadic interpersonal skills, and they learn to have an ease in spontaneous interactions in the bosom of their families. But to learn to enjoy ties to peers, to learn to transfer some of the warmth of parent-child relations to other relationships, to learn to balance the spontaneity enjoyed at home (bonne) with formality (tatemae) , emotion with control, and family with society, to learn to become, in

other words, truly Japanese, the child must be given a chance to move beyond the walls of the home to more complex social interactions. In today's Japan, for most children, these more complex interactions are found first in preschools.