Showing posts with label nihonjinron. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nihonjinron. Show all posts

Monday, May 3, 2010

Golden Week-end walk

Golden Week

Concrete Wabi Sabi: Virgin tetrapods.

I took advantage of the spell of wonderful weather this past weekend to go for a 40k walk. I wanted to walk the last section of the Shimane coast that I had not yet walked. I started out at Kasaura, a little village up on the Shimane Hanto (peninsular) north east of Matsue. I headed up the cape that protrudes north, passing through Noi, where I found a wonderful example of an old-style mikoshi in the local shrine.

Being the Japanese coast, I was never far from tetrapods.

On up through Sezaki, then over to Konami, all just little fishing villages with a few hundred inhabitants. I like these places. The houses are so close together there are only narrow passageways and steps between them, making labyrinths. I could see the shrine on the hill but I had to enlist the help of a passing local to help me navigate through the maze to find the steps up.

Being the Japanese coast, I was never far from concreted mountains.

And on up through Tako to Okidomari, the northernmost settlement on the tip of the cape. Concrete aside, the coast is quite spectacular, with white beaches and a clear, turquoise sea.

There are lots of rugged cliffs, little islands, sea caves. At times the coast of Shimane reminds me of Cornwall.

Then back down the cape along the only road back through Konami to Nonami, a "town" big enough to have three shrines, one of which was mentioned in the 8th century Izumo no Fudoki.

At the Hinomisaki branch shrine I spent at least 30 minutes chatting with three middle-aged ladies. There were the usual questions, where are you from, where are you going, what are you doing. I explained how I walked all over Shimane visiting shrines, learning the stories, histories, etc. One lady seemed to have a hard time getting her head around it. She kept asking "why?", but no matter what explanation I gave she blurted "But they are Japanese kami!!". Reminded me of a recent conversation wher I mentioned to a young woman that I made kagura masks and she replied..."BUT!! you are not Japanese!!!!"

Nihonjinron. The true Japanese religion.

And so I headed on,... the sun was a few hours from going down and I needed to find a nice place to sleep. On though Kaka, the place to take the boat tours to the Kaganokukedo. No boats were going out today though as it was way too windy. And on through Owashi, visiting shrines in each village. I noted that the majority of shrines had female kami.

I made my bed on the cliff above the roaring surf looking down on Mitsu, and beyond it the nuclear power station at Kashima. Built on a faultline that is much bigger than originally claimed, a second reactor is planned to be built here. (when I got home Yoko told me that the company had just publicly apologized for not replacing 530 parts that should have been replaced as part of scheduled safety maintenance)

I love sleeping outside, and I don't do it often enough! I watched a sublime sunset, and then woke regularly through the night and watched the full moons progress across my ceiling.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Japanese self-images

A Genealogy of 'Japanese' self-images.

Eiji Oguma

Trans Pacific Press

ISBN 1-876843-04-7


Of all the myths propagated about Japan, the one I find most disturbing can be illustrated by a quote by Taro Aso, the man in line to be the next Japanese Prime Minister. He said "“Japan is one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture, one race, none of which can be found in any other country”. It is disturbing that even a cursory glance at Japanese history reveals the assertation to be false and yet it is believed by so many, Japanese and other, but it's also disturbing because the idea is the bedrock of the whole "field" of Nihonjinron, and also used to justify Japan's deeply embedded racism. What is more surprising however, is that this idea is very, very, modern, being created in the postwar period but not becoming dominant until the 1960's.

Eiji Oguma's excellent, authoritative study of how the Japanese define themselves follows the debates and lines of thought from the Meiji period up until today, drawing from archeology, history, linguistics, anthropolgy, ethnology, eugenics, folklore and philosophy, and the complete break that occured with Japan's defeat in the war. Prior to that the Japanese defined themselves very much as a "mixed-race" with ancestry traced to north, east, and south asia, as well as ascribing their roots to Greece and Italy!!! Of course this definition allowed them to justify their invasion and colonisation of Korea, Taiwan, and China.

The book fleshes out many of the Japanese politicians and thinkers of the 20th Century as well as proving detailed study of how their colonial citizens were treated, and of course provides the explanation for much of Nihonjinron.