J a p a n e s e    C u l t u r e

Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

 

Two Reasons For Gattai


Japanese superheroes are always merging, with an ecstactic cry of "gattai!" This merging scene mesmerized Japanese children who rehearse similar using merging superhero toys. The merged superheroes are often much larger in size. Often its is the familiars of the super-heroes (as my son is holding top left) rather than the heroes themselves that merge. The superheroes themselves will then sometimes fly up inside the merged giant to control it. Since the superheroes are possesed by the familiars, receiving their super power from them, this tinal structure has the topography of a Klien bottle. In the past I had thought that perhaps the merging represented the way in which Japanese must merge multiple interdependent (Marks & Kitayama, 1991) or "dialogic" (Hermans and Kempen, Bakhtin, but in fact in the visual domain) self views from the view points of others, and, relatedly whether Japanese children are merging various self body views, perhaps also with that of their face as viewed in a mirror. I have more recently realised the enormous size of my first person body views and presume that this difference in scale explains the size differences between the superheroes before and after they merge. http://flic.kr/p/FFH3xk

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

 

Japanese Translation of Sheeple


This the above is a Japanese translation of this illustration where everyone on a train thinks that all the others present are sheeple. Research (Leuers = Takemoto & Sonoda, 1999) shows that Westerners do have a false uniqueness bias, whereas Japanese are more likely to believe that they are more normal than they in fact are. Leuers = Takemoto, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (1999). Independent self bias. Progress in Asian Social Psychology, 3, 87–104. Retrieved from http://ift.tt/1ScThyE http://flic.kr/p/GmP39M

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

 

Spring Night's Dream


There is a Japanese saying "The proud don't last long, but are like a Spring night's dream." This proverb is often said to be the equivalent of "Pride comes before a fall," but it is more severe. According to the Japanese, the proud do not just fall, but disappear. In my pride, I feel I am really letting the Japanese down. My 'research,' which I tend to present only orally, claims that the Japanese too are very proud. While they don't say so, they see themselves, and present themselves, in a very positive light. Furthermore, many of Japanese including a majority of Japanese psychologists and their political leader seem to have been persuaded that they are lacking in pride and self confidence. To be proud and unaware that one is proud is a dangerous situation to be in, like being under the influence of alcohol unaware that someone has spiked your drink. So perhaps like the Heike, who were defeated just down the road, the Japanese may be in for some very bad news. In my pride and delusions of grandeur I feel I really need to try much harder to make the Japanese aware of their positivity so they do not let it blind them. Oh Japan, please take care. 驕る者久しくあらず(春の夜の夢のごとし)という日本語の格言があります。英語のPride comes before a fallに相当するものだといわれますが、日本の格言の方が厳しいですね。驕るもは「落ちる」のみならず、消えるとまで。 驕る私は日本人の厚恩にぜんぜん答えていないと思います。殆どが口頭発表という形のみで公開されている小生の研究では、日本人も誇り高いと主張しています。そうは言わずとも、日本人は非常に肯定的に自己視し、肯定的な形で視覚的に自己呈示すると思います。更に多くの日本の方、多くの日本の心理学者やその政治的指導者は、日本人には誇りと自信が足りていないと思わさされているようです。 驕りがあって驕りに気づいていないという状況は、ジュースだと思い込んでいる飲み物にアルコールを入れられて知らず知らず酔っている状態のように危ないでしょう。そう考えると、この近くで敗北した平家のように、日本人も悲報が届きそう。驕りと研究についての慢心のなか、目が見えなくならないように日本の方が日本型肯定的さに気づかれるようにもっと努力しなければならないと思っている今日です。 日本、気をつけてくださいm(._.)m http://flic.kr/p/GpvuHR

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

 

Will Jim be Helpful?

Will Jim be Helpful?

Choi, Nisbett, and Norenzayan (1999) that when Americans and Korean's were asked whether an individual, "Jim", would help a stranger in the situation where Jim either has plenty of money in his pocket, or where Jim has money only enough for his own fare and an important meeting to go to, the Koreans were found to be more influenced by the situation as in the above graph (based upon Choi, Nisbett, & Norenzayan, 1999, fig. 1. p. 52). It is argued that Asians are more contextual basing their decisions, and predictions of other's decisions, upon the context of the action rather than the character of the individual.

The experimental evidence is persuasive, and it fits in with stereotypes of East Asian "collectivists", lacking gumption, blown by the winds of societal, and contextual pressure.

At the same time, there is something wrong with this picture. Firstly I find that Koreans and Japanese are notably helpful, and non violent, to strangers across situations rather than showing behavioural swings, the helpful to mean, as shown in the graph above.

I suspect that there is another reason why the Koreans are being more "context" sensitive and that is that they are given no information about Jim other than his name. If the Koreans were given an equal amount of information regarding Jim, such as "Jim is a suited 25 year old business man working for a provincial bank", say, then the they would have been no more swayed by the context than the Americans because they, like the Japanese, base their decisions upon what they can imagine, animating the visio-imaginable rather than the phoneme "Jim".

In support of this hypothesis in other research it was found that when given a little more information ‘‘Kate (Yumiko in Japanese) age 20, is a student at your university," (Hamamura, Heine, & Takemoto, 2007, p.250) was given to Japanese and Canadian students, it was the Japanese and not the Canadians that gave a more outlier - further from "most other students" - appraisal of ‘Kat/Yumiko's personality (graph above bottom, based on Hamamura, Heine, & Takemoto, table 1). This difference was significant (p<.001). This is because, I believe, in this experiment the subjects were not just given a name, but also some information upon which to imagine the person that they were appraising.

The Japanese mind does not make decisions in words (Kim, 2002), but upon the surface of its mirror (Timothy Roland Scott Leuers = Takemoto & Sonoda, 1998, 2000; T.R.S. Leuers = Takemoto & Sonoda, 1999; T. Leuers = Takemoto & Sonoda, 1999; Takemoto, T., 2002, 2003; T. Takemoto, n.d.; Timothy Takemoto, 2011a, 2011b, 2012a, 2012b, 2014).

Choi, I., Nisbett, R. E., & Norenzayan, A. (1999). Causal attribution across cultures: Variation and universality. Psychological Bulletin, 125(1), 47. Retrieved from citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.316.410...
Hamamura, T., Heine, S. J., & Takemoto, T. R. (2007). Why the better-than-average effect is a worse-than-average measure of self-enhancement: An investigation of conflicting findings from studies of East Asian self-evaluations. Motivation and Emotion, 31(4), 247–259. Retrieved from link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11031-007-9072-y
Heine, S. J., Takemoto, T., Moskalenko, S., Lasaleta, J., & Henrich, J. (2008). Mirrors in the head: Cultural variation in objective self-awareness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(7), 879–887. Retrieved from www2.psych.ubc.ca/~heine/docs/2008Mirrors.pdf
Kim, H. S. (2002). We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(4), 828. Retrieved from labs.psych.ucsb.edu/kim/heejung/kim_2002.pdf
Leuers = Takemoto, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (1998, October). 心像的自己に関する比較文化的研究(1) Cross Cultural Research on the Specular Self. Oral Presentation口頭発表 presented at the The 62th Annual Convention of the Japanese Psychologiocal Association English日本心理学第64回大会, Tokyo Gakugei Daigaku. Retrieved from nihonbunka.com/docs/shinzoutekijiko1.doc
Leuers = Takemoto, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (1999). Independent self bias. Progress in Asian Social Psychology, 3, 87–104. Retrieved from httyp://www.nihonbunka.com/docs/independent_self.rtf
Leuers = Takemoto, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (2000, November). 心像的自己に関する比較文化的研究(6) -メディア(言語とイメージ)の違いと日米比較― Cross Cultural Research on the Specular Self: Differences in Media (Language and Image) and comparison between Japan and America. Oral Presentation口頭発表 presented at the The 64th Annual Convention of the Japanese Psychologiocal Association English日本心理学第64回大会, Kyoto University. Retrieved from nihonbunka.com/docs/shinzoutekijiko6.docx
Leuers = Takemoto, T., & Sonoda, N. (1999). The eye of the other and the independent self of the Japanese. In Symposium presentation at the 3rd Conference of the Asian Association of Social Psychology, Taipei, Taiwan. Retrieved from nihonbunka.com/docs/aasp99.htm
Takemoto, T. (2002). 鏡の前の日本人. In 選書メチエ編集部, ニッポンは面白いか (講談社選書メチエ. 講談社.
Takemoto, T. (2003). 言語の文化心理学―心の中のことばと映像(The Cultural Psychology of Language: Language and Image in the Heart). In 武本, ティモシー & 古賀,範理, あなたと私のことばと文化―共生する私たち―. 五絃舎.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

 

Doutaku and Doguu: Destroying the internal Other

Doutaku and Doguu: Destroying the Other
Doutak bells are a quite mystery to me.

They are found dating from the Yayoi period when, I believe the previous, indigenous Japanese Joumon ("rope pattern") Japanese culture that had existed in Japan for millennia was invaded by horse mounted invaders from the continent. These bells were probably originally horse-bells, to allow horse mounted warriors to know where their horses are in the dark for instance. They started out being about the size of the bell that Ray is holding in the above photo, but were gradually made in larger and larger sizes.

My guess is that these larger and larger bells were in part to prove regal (or invader) hereditary, "My father or (great great..) grandfather was a horse mounted warrior." And with each passing generation the bells were made in larger sizes, perhaps.

The Japanese themselves have a tendency to believe that there was no "invasion" and that the Joumon people evolved into Yayoi people, and subsequently Kofun people, due to the arrival of "technology" from the continent rather than due to subjugation. The Japanese tend to believe, traditionally at least, imho, that their culture is continuous or contiguous from the year dot. And they may be right.

The genetic record however seems to point to a considerable differences (in height for instance) with at the same time much overlap, so at least there was interbreeding between an indigenous and arriving race. On the other hand, I suppose that genes might also be described as a "technology," and Japanese culture may have survived changes to the gene pool. I think it very likely.

I imagine Yayoi warriors arriving and breeding (no offence intended) with the indigenous Joumon people, and then later a second wave of invaders (related to the first) arriving in the Kofun (ancient burial mound) period. This two wave hypothesis is suggested by some (Korean) historical interpretations of Japanese mythology. After the latter wave vast tombs were created. The creation of vast tombs, all around Japan, makes me think that there was great stratification within society. I imagine that those that were related to the invaders rounded up and forced vast numbers of indigenous and mulatto stock Japanese and had them build tombs the size of the Egyptian pyramids for their new masters. But this is all my imagination. Korean and Western historians tend to present a sort of "Japan was invaded" type of history, whereas, as I say, the Japanese tend to portray their history as one of continuous evolution with changes in society being attributed to the arrival of new technologies such as for rice farming. I guess that the difference in historical outlook is one of degree. The Japanese are, and their culture is, great at maintaining continuity, of which a great deal remains. This post is about the possibility of continuity between doutaku (as held by my son Ray) and dogu (pictured above right).

Returning to the dotaku bells, they have peculiar characteristics. They appear to have been kept, while not in use, buried in the ground, being unearthed at specific occasions. One theory has it that they were buried in order to soak up and be replenished with the spirit of the earth. The bells often have pictorial inscriptions that may be rebuses, punning on that which they represent. They seem to have a lot of water related imagery and a preponderance of images of deer.

Ah yes, I remember now (I make the same observations over and over again): it seems to me that these doutaku bells may be the origin of the temple bells that are used to ring in the new year in Japan in the "joya no kane" (除夜の鐘) ritual, which are even more massive than the largest doutak. They look similar. They are likewise inscribed. These "joya no kane" bells are now associated with Buddhist ritual to purify the ringers of sins, of which there are said to be 108.

The "rope pattern", Joumon culture indigenous Japanese, who existed for millennia, seem to have created first person body view (McDermott, 1996) figurines or dogū (土偶) which have similarities with the Venus figurines found all over the palaeolithic world. These figurines in Japan were often destroyed. I wonder if they were destroyed (and perhaps buried) in an attempt to exorcise their owners from the mother that occupied their, and perhaps all our, minds.

If so then, by a vast leap of conjecture, it might be argued that the practice of making first person body view figurines and then breaking and burying them, may have evolved into the practice of making vast bells and ringing then (at first) burying them.

This conjecture parallels the hypothesis of Lacanian (and Freudian but less explicitly) psychology which has it that the self evolves by first being represented visually as a body view, then narrativally in phonemes.

In each stage the self is paired with an other-of-the-self that witnesses the self representation.

Lacanian psychology seems to lack reference to self-person body views. The visual or "mirror-stage" is purported to be one in which the the mirror self, or third person body image such as represented in mirrors, and the form of other children with whom infants identify, is seen from the perspective of real others and is therefore groupist, and interpersonal, rather than intra-psychic (in the mind).

It is only, according to Lacan and Mead, with the arrival of language that humans internalise an imaginary friend or Other or ear (of the Other). In Lacan and Mead, and Western philosophers in general, ears are argued to be internalisable but eyes are not. They claim that one can speak, whisper and eventually "think" in words to "oneself," or rather that hidden friend, a generalised other, super ego, super addressee. Eyes are always, interpersonal, groupist, social, out there in the world.

Till the discovery of mirror neurons, our paper on Mirrors in the Head, McDermott's first person, Nishida's Mephistopheles in 'active direct vision', and the lyrics of David Bowie ("Your Eyes" in Blackstar) it was not realised that people can create a watcher within their minds.

Western theorists seem to have missed out on autoscopic potential of the mirror neuron, or McDermottian possibility that eyes are just as internalisable.

Until recently I had thought that the "eye of the Other" was internalised in an abstract, ineffable way. Japanese pictorial art is often represented from the perspective of "an eye apart," typically looking down, from the sky such as one can experience when playing Mariokart, Final Fantasy or other third person view Japanese video games (Masuda, et al., in preparation).

At the same time however, it also seems possible to model an eye within the self in a more concrete way, as the the first person view of self, such as may be represented by dogū, and the first person view that we have of their own brow nose and limbs. When I look at myself in the mirror I can see the noses and brow of the person on this side of the mirror. I can hold out my hand and caresses the surface of the mirror. Narcissus is portrayed attempting to scoop up his image from the surface of water, using his this-side-of-the-mirror hands.

In a sense perhaps the phonic equivalent of the nose and brow is the voice. I can narrate myself and when I do, when I call myself names, such as "Tim" or "I," the in that situation, there is likewise a "this side of the mirror" in the voice that expresses these names. Mead, and Derrida, rightly point out that hearing oneself speak (s'entendre parler in Derrida) introduces a believable duality. But I think that Nishida is right to point out (at least I think he is pointing out) that a similarly believable, or en-actable (kouiteki) duality exists in seeing. Since we can see our brow, and our nose(s), and often our hands, we see ourselves see. We do not even need a mirror to do so.

So, aware of the fact that self always presupposes and entails a self loving drama (with [less than/not?] one actor and two personae), in an attempt to rid themselves of their self-loving sin, the Japanese may have moved from destroying images of the self-person view in the act of destroying and burying dogū figurines, to destroying the phoneme in the act of a DONNGG, of a doutaku or joya no kane bell.

One can hear the sound of a bell on the Japanese joya no kane wikipedia page and in this Youtube Video.

Bibliography
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275. websites.rcc.edu/herrera/files/2011/04/PREHISTORIC-Self-R...

I have also argued that Japanese attempted to destroy inner ears (converting them to external ones) by snapping their earrings. The more you love others the less you love yourself, and vice versa.

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

 

Photo Props Boom in Japan

Photo Props Boom in Japan
Rather than being "phono logo phallo centric" (Derrida) the Japanese are not so much animist (as they claim) but "Video Ergo Sum" (Lenggenhager, et al. 2007). This is due to the fact that the other of the Japanese is a gaze rather than an ear (Derrida). The Japanese mind is a mirror and the centre of gravity of the self is the face or "mask" (Wasuji). For that reason the Japanese have a fascination with photography and especially trick photography since if something looks like it is, then in a sense, it is. He I am photographed with Ray and May surrounded by "Photo Props" which are pieces of paper to change ones appearance in photos and are currently booming in Japan. Before the arrival of "photo props" of course, Puri Kura (Print Clubs) provided portrait photography post processing.

Friday, March 11, 2016

 

Stamped on their Person

Stamped on their Person
Why is it that we feel that each and every instance of a word has the same meaning, and can be copied perfectly authentically such as to make copies equivalent, and redundant? Answers to this question vary, but according to Derrida they all imply a "presence," either of some entity such as a metaphysical world of ideas (Plato, e.g. Theaetetus), meanings that are hard-wired in the brain (Pinker, 2007) , or because they refer to a shared physical world (Pierce, 1973). Others posit an ongoing inter-subjective presence, of God, the super-ego, super-addressee who understands words in the same way. At the middle ground between these two extremes is perhaps an awareness of usage: an abstraction from inter-subjective communication (Wittgenstein, 1973).

The Japanese may believe, as argued by Mori (1999), that words exist in the absence of any shared additional presence across iterations. Japanese words may lack both shared system and the perspective of a "third person" intra-psychic imaginary friend . Words are contextual and imbued with the subjectivity of the situation in which they were received. In this case copies of words are no longer redundant any more than are views of colours, flowers or sunsets. Words thus conceived are not authentically copyable, but need to be received.

When on pilgrimage, Japanese have traditionally collected words from spatially separate sites. These words do not sink into a system, nor are consumed by any internal friend. They are collected by having them stamped into cards, or books that pilgrims hang around their necks, or as in the above image, onto the clothes that they wear upon their person.

I am again reminded of Revelation 22:4. "There will no longer be any curse..."

The above image is the Google image search page for pilgrim's clothes (gyoue)

Derrida, J. (2011). Voice and Phenomenon: Introduction to the Problem of the Sign in Husserl’s Phenomenology. Northwestern Univ Pr.
Mori, 森, 有正. (1999). 森有正エッセー集成〈5〉. 筑摩書房.
Peirce, C. S. (1894). What is a sign? Theorizing Communication: Readings across Traditions, 177. Retrieved from www.semioticadelprogetto.it/download/CSP%20-%20What%20is%...
Pinker, S. (2007). The language instinct: How the mind creates language. Harper Perennial Modern Classics.
Plato, 427? BCE-347? BCE. (1999). Theaetetus. (B. Jowett, Trans.). Retrieved from www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1726
Wittgenstein, L. (1973). Philosophical Investigations (3rd ed.). Prentice Hall.

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Climbing Authenticopies

Climbing Authenticopies
Edo period Japanese were fond of visiting Ise Shrine, other shrines and temples, and also famous mountains, none more so than Mount Fuji. However the purpose of visiting Mount Fuji was not to enjoy the view from the top, which as the saying goes is preferred only by stupid bigheads and smoke (baka ya kemuri ha takai tokoro ga suki). So instead of climbing the mountain, they more often chose to climb a model of the mountain, wearing full pilgrim's attire, at one of the shrines at the base of Mount Fuji (Ohwada, 2009, p. 40: quote in Japanese below).

There is no size information in the visual. A bonsai tree looks the same as a massive oak, and a model of Mount Fuji can look the same as the real thing. If you wear the right kit and walk up a model, then you might as well have walked up the actual mountain, because they will look the same way. In he land of the sun-goddess the authenti-copies or simulacra (Baudrillard, 1995) are not words, which Westerners feel to be perfectly copyable because we have a listening comforter, but visual replications such as of mountains in front of Shinto shrines.

Japanese culture is rife with authenticopies such as bonsai, model food in place of menus, dolls, horse and cow sculptures at shrines, masks, pictures of the deceased and his royal highness the emperor, and the god-head (goshintai) of the deities themselves that can be copied or split 'as one can split a fire' (Norinaga, see Herbert, 2010, p.99). The practice of visiting copies continues to this day in the form of creating foreign villages ("gaikoku mura") which fascinate foreign anthropologists and tourism theorists (Graburn, Ertl, & Tierney, 2010; J. Hendry, 2000; Joy Hendry, 2012; Nenzi, 2008). I don't think that they have noticed that the Japanese world is inside out yet, however.

If it were indeed the case, as argued here, that the Japanese world is that of light, an amalgam of images, seen and 'insured' by the watchful eye of the Sun goddess, then in order for someone to pass from Western to Japanese culture, from a Western to Japanese world, they would need to pass through the veil of perception. Perhaps all one really needs to do is find the dead girl that you are talking off to.

Perhaps that is what David Lynch (1992) meant by "Walk fire with me".

The above image is composed of a detail from the model mountains (though not of Mount Fuji) or standing sand (tatesuna) in Kamowake-Kazushi Shrine precinct by 663highland, and image of a monk in a straw hat from gatag copyright free image source.

富士山の場合は、富士山に実際に登山していわゆる富士山禅定(ぜんじょう・登る=修行)を行う者はむしろ砂苦、大多数はしないの富士山神社や諸社寺境内に設けられた箱庭式で模擬登山を行うのであった(大和田, 2009, p. 40)

Bibliography
Baudrillard, J. (1995). Simulcra and Simulation. (S. F. Glaser, Trans.). Univ of Michigan Pr.
Graburn, N., Ertl, J., & Tierney, R. K. (2010). Multiculturalism in the New Japan: Crossing the Boundaries Within. Berghahn Books.
Hendry, J. (2000). Foreign Country Theme Parks: A New Theme or an Old Japanese Pattern? Social Science Japan Journal, 3(2), 207–220. http://doi.org/10.1093/ssjj/3.2.207
Hendry, J. (2012). Understanding Japanese Society (4th ed.). Routledge.
Herbert, J. (2010). Shinto: At the Fountainhead of Japan. Taylor & Francis.
Lynch, D. (1992). Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
Nenzi, L. N. D. (2008). Excursions in identity: travel and the intersection of place, gender, and status in Edo Japan. University of Hawaii Press.
大和田守. (2009). こんなに面白い江戸の旅. (歴史の謎を探る会, Ed.). 東京: 河出書房新社.

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Monday, February 29, 2016

 

62 Translations of Okonomi Yaki

62 Translations of Okonomi Yaki
Fritters as you like them. Fritters to taste. Free fritters. Fritters freed. Japanese pan fried pizza. Savory pancakes. DIY fry-up. Griddled Goo. Individualistic johnnycakes. Selfish savories. Preference, predilection, prepossession, propensity, personalised or pet pancakes or paste. Pet preparation. Wished or whimsy waffles. What you will waffles. (Free)Will waffles. Flavour Flapjacks. Groove griddle cakes. Number one gunge, My cup of tea cakes. Croquette my way. Darling, dearest, desired, or druthers doughboys or dumplings. Liberty cakes. The cook is on holiday cakes. Be my batter cakes. Beloved batter cakes, Coagulated stir fry. Callous cutlets. Choice cabbage cakes. Liking or Love lump cakes. Main mush. Choice Concoction. My mix. Pan fried partiality. Pan-fried perfection. Caprice cakes. Hobby hotplate. Free-style fries. Fried fantasy. Freedom fries. My fry. Favourite fries. Hashed heaven. Hashed happiness.

My students always 'translate' the name for Japanese foods such as that pictured above (お好み焼き) using their phonetization, "okonomi yaki," which might just as well be kowwash firdight for all the meaning it would impart to the average anglophone. This is I think because people hate meaninglessness (Heine, Proulx, & Vohs, 2006) so if at least one word in Japanese is included in any sentence the sender knows that at least that one word will be meaningful in a Japanese context, and that their conversation partner will have some idea of what they are talking about. The reasons for this is anatta or no self. The self is just a representation (story or image): something with a meaning. The lack of meaning is self-annihilation, and English conversation practice almost deadly. I need to be nicer to my students, investigate Japanese hospice praxis, while insisting that students use non-phonetic translations.

Heine, S. J., Proulx, T., & Vohs, K. D. (2006). The meaning maintenance model: On the coherence of social motivations. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10(2), 88-110.
www.google.co.jp/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&...

Addendum Good Paper on Japanese hospice praxis emphasises the use of image-based measure (PAC analysis) rather than scales. Recommends, in addition to paliative care and listen: smiles and improved personal hygene and health on the part of the carer.
對馬明美, Tsushima, A., 三上佳澄, Mikami, K., 西沢義子, & Nishizawa, Y. (2010). 死を意識している患者との対話場面における看護者の態度構造に関する研究. 日本看護研究学会雑誌, 33(5), 33-44. http://www.jsnr.jp/test/search/docs/103305003.pdf

内藤哲雄1997/2002PAC 分析実施法入門[改訂版]「個」を科学する新技法への招待ナカニシヤ出版 amazon link a student gave a presentation about this. I thought it came from outside of Japan.

内藤哲雄. (1997). PAC 分析の適用範囲と実施法. 信州大学人文学部人文科学論集< 人間情報学科編>, 31, 51-87.
https://soar-ir.repo.nii.ac.jp/index.php?action=pages_view_main&active_action=repository_action_common_download&item_id=707&item_no=1&attribute_id=65&file_no=1&page_id=13&block_id=45


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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

 

Japanese Bragging: Self-Verification


The Japanese very rarely brag (Heine, Lehman, Markus, & Kitayama, 1999), linguistically at least (Leuers = Takemoto & Sonoda, 1999). On the other hand the Japanese are "haughty" in their manner, posture and attire (Busk, 1841; Coleridge, 1872; Cortazzi, 2013; Golovnin & Shishkov, 1819; Krusenstern & Kruzenshtern, 1813). The Japanese eschew vocalising their superiority, which is left for others to do for them in flattery which, though void of linguistic meaning, as a form of obeisance is rife (Takemoto, in preparation).

Kōdayū (pictured above) spent 11 years in Russia as a castaway at a time when Japan was closed to the rest of the world. He returned full of "Western learning," and no doubt somewhat Westernised in manner, to obtain an audience with the shogun, the top man in Japan, about which Donald Keene writes,

"The shogun's questions were asked at random, and suggests that he was more interested in displaying his own knowledge of Russian than in learning new things from Kōdayū. The interrogation sometimes took the form: "There is a great clock in the castle tower of Moscow. Have you seen it?" Similar enquiries about the statue of Peter the Great and a famous Muscovian cannon were followed by, "Have you ever seen a camel?" (Keene, 1952, p.55)

The Japanese are not perfect. Looking, but not listening, with mother they expect to see those around them fawn and pay lip-service. Keene takes the shogun to task. I think that Kōdayū failed to flatter. Faced with such an ill-mannered subject the shogun had no choice but to ask rhetorical, self-answering questions for the purpose of self verification which is probably pan-cultural (Seih, Buhrmester, Lin, Huang, & Swann Jr., 2013) da yo ne?

Busk, M. M. (1841). Manners and Customs of the Japanese, in the Nineteenth Century: From Recent Dutch Visitors of Japan, and the German of Dr. Ph. Fr. Von Siebold. John Murray, Albemarle Street.
Coleridge, H. J. (1872). The life and letters of St. Francis Xavier : in two volumes. Asian Educational Services.
Cortazzi, H. (2013). Victorians in Japan: In and around the Treaty Ports. A&C Black.
Golovnin, V. M., & Shishkov, A. S. (1819). Recollections of Japan: Comprising a Particular Account of the Religion : Language : Government : Laws and Manners of the People : with Observations on the Geography : Climate : Population and Productions of the Country : to which are Pre-fixed Chronological Details of the Rise : Decline : and Renewal of British Commercial Intercourse with that Country.
Heine, S., Lehman, D., Markus, H., & Kitayama, S. (1999). Is there a universal need for positive self-regard?. Psychological Review. Retrieved from humancond.org/_media/papers/heine99_universal_positive_re...
Keene, D. (1952). The Japanese Discovery of Europe: Honda Toshiaki and Other Discoverers, 1720-1798. Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Krusenstern, A. J. von, & Kruzenshtern, I. F. (1813). Voyage Round the World, in the Years 1803, 1804, 1805, & 1806. C. Roworth.
Leuers = Takemoto, T., & Sonoda, N. (1999). The eye of the other and the independent self of the Japanese. In Symposium presentation at the 3rd Conference of the Asian Association of Social Psychology, Taipei, Taiwan. Retrieved from nihonbunka.com/docs/aasp99.htm
Seih, Y.-T., Buhrmester, M. D., Lin, Y.-C., Huang, C.-L., & Swann Jr., W. B. (2013). Do people want to be flattered or understood? The cross-cultural universality of self-verification. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(1), 169–172. doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2012.09.004

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Friday, February 12, 2016

 

Autoscopy in the Martial Arts (Again, Summarized)

Autoscopy in the Martial Arts
It seems to me that the key to Japanese culture is to realise that in the land of the rising mirror, the Japanese see themselves. This is evident in my opinion in the Japanese sense of private shame, Kyari Pamyu Pamyu eating eyeballs, Mariokart (Masuda, 2010), and birds eye view points in Ukiyoe (Masuda and Chang?) but above all, that this autoscopic ability may be closely linked with Budo and the Japanese arts.

At the moment however the only good reference I have for this is the theory of the eye apart in the 14th-15th century Noh actor and theoretician Zeami who says that repeated practice of Noh forms allows the creation of Eyes at a distance (Riken no Ken) that look back at oneself.

There is also a this book on the psychology of Budo by Takashi Ozawa (in Japanese) with a cover and belt (obi) that said that doing Budo one "obtains an other that looks at you" (but when I read the book and contacted the publisher it turned out that it was the publishers comment, rather than the author's). The cover image is great though.
Attachment 10901

Similarly also this "Onore wo mitsumeru" (Staring at oneself) in Japanese where Ryo Nagano claims that in Iaido one is always fighting, and seeing, an imaginary opponent and that eventually one realises that his opponent is oneself, thus Iaido is an autoscopic martial art.

And there is some research that a Kyudo practicing student of mine (Ikki Yamamoto) did that found that self-seeing or imagining correlated highly with archery ability (more than practice or anything else) since in archery as in Kendo, one is evaluated on form as well as lethality.

It could be argued that the strong sense of aesthetics or grace in Nitobe implies autoscopy.

The twofold gaze that Musashi Miyamoto in the Book of five rings does not mention autoscopy but it may well be especially "The Gaze in Strategy The gaze should be large and broad. This is the twofold gaze "Perception and Sight". Perception is strong and sight week. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things. " (近き所を遠く見る事 in the original) p14 "In large-scale strategy the area to watch is the enemy's strength."Perception" and "sight" are the two methods of seeing. Perception consists of concentrating strongly on the enemy's spirit, observing the condition of the battlefield, fixing the gaze strongly, seeing the progress of the fight and the changes of advantages. This is the sure way to win. In single combat you must not fix the eyes on the details. As I said before, if you fix your eyes on details and neglect important things, your spirit will become bewildered, and victory will escape you." p3 40 and on p23 "You must make the best of the situation, see through the enemy's spirit so that you grasp his strategy and defeat him." does not mean see using the enemies spirit but rather "look at the enemies heart" ("敵の心を見" in the original). Re-reading the final single page chapter on the Void, I wonder what I mean by "seeing yourself" because there isn't one! But still it could mean several things! 1) Imagining how one looks from the perspective of others. 2) Seeing ones self representations, such as mirror reflections and first person views as representations and therefore at a distance 3) Seeing the void, the non-self, in which these occur.

Judith Butler claims in "Bodies that Matter" that repeated (Derrida's "iterated") actions facilitate the creation of 'body as sign' which can be self-addressed, and be meaningful, "matter."

There is also work on the overlap between theatre ('dramaturgy) and martial arts but I would not wish to suggest that Martial arts are a *performance for others,* so I tend to steer away from things dramatological.

I do Karate a little and badly. I think that perhaps I may be able to see myself (with some pain!) more than than before. I don't know if Butler is right but it does seem to be, as Zeami can be read to say, that it is forms practice in Budo, tea, or 'radio exercises' (that all Japanese children do) that seems to be key. I find that doing forms in rows of other people helps in that I feel myself to be iterated in space as it were in the forms of the other people.

Do others know of any other sources regarding self sight, autoscopy, or "sight apart" in the martial arts?

Masuda 増田貴彦. (2010). ボスだけを見る欧米人 みんなの顔まで見る日本人. 講談社.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

 

Sassure via Maruyama Explains Yuki's Group Types


Possibly my favourite cultural psychological theory is that of Yuki (2003) who contends that westerners merge with their groups which they see in contradistinction to others, whereas Japanese form groups as networks conceived independently of any other group. This is a radical theory since if amplified it can be used to suggest that it is Westerners who are dependent upon their groups, whereas Japanese from groups in which individuality is nurtured. To a large extent I agree with this amplified formulation and have demonstrated that Americans though they may seem "individual" are all infact individualists, that is to say possessant of the same basket of culturally approved characteristics. None the less, I do believe that Japanese merge to a degree and that emphasis should be given to the way in which the selves in Japanese interpenetrate. Yuki (2003) in his diagram above shows the relationships penetrating the circles of the Japanese group members. I suggested a modification where the group members should overlap and explained the reason why they overlap - the imaginaire emphasises interdependence as explained here. Turning to Western groups however, it may appear puzzling that we find it so easy to merge with our groups, and require an outgroup to compare and disparage. One of the reasons for this is because, I believe, we cognise ourselves and our groups as narratives. Maruyama Masao illustrates the way Sassures theory of language implies that words can only be understood in their relation to other words. He contrasts categories of words with a box of coloured marbles (much like Masaki's asian group top right) which can be cognised even out of the box, and illustrates the way in which words can only be understood in contrast to other words with a box containing water with bubbles formed upon it. If a bubble in box is burst, if a language has no seperate word for wolf then that would be like bursting one of the bubbles (centre black and white diagram). Unless the word covers a meaning space in contrast to other words it has no meaning at all, whereas concrete (visible) things are what they are all on their lonesome. Japanese cognise themselves and their groups visually so they do not need to compare their groups with others. To love Japan they have no need of hating upon Koreans. Americans however tend to cognise themselves in linguistic terms, and therefore need a bogeyman-country with which to compare and enhance themselves. It is better in the light, but how to get there? http://flic.kr/p/DszxU2

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Friday, January 29, 2016

 

Naruto Whitestar

Naruto Whitestar
Why is it that we we feel ourselves to be watching a screen from inside our heads? We feel ourselves to inhabit the blackness in front of the light. One reason for this is because we talk to ourselves and, and possibly something else, in the this darkness. It has been demonstrated that East Asians are far less likely to engage in self speech at least while attempting to solve problems (Kim, 2002). Further Japanese deities and arguably the other of the Japanese self is felt to be something that watches from without (Heine et al. 2008). I notice that some of the best of them such as Naruto and hachimaki headband wearers may even have their names, or marks, not inside them, but upon their their foreheads like Rev 22:4. None of this muttering in the dark for them. In Japan the names are out there. I think that Japanese engage in tourism to "named places" to remind themselves of this fact.

The Japanese are Westernising furiously but it seems to me that the next stage in human development should be for the world to become Japanese, who are "meek" to boot. Bowie developed a mark for his last record. He nearly got there.

Image is drawn by me but the character is copyright Masashi Kishimoto, Hayato Date and Shueisha.

Heine, S. J., Takemoto, T., Moskalenko, S., Lasaleta, J., & Henrich, J. (2008). Mirrors in the head: Cultural variation in objective self-awareness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(7), 879–887. Retrieved from www2.psych.ubc.ca/~heine/docs/2008Mirrors.pdf
Kim, H. S. (2002). We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(4), 828. Retrieved from labs.psych.ucsb.edu/kim/heejung/kim_2002.pdf

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Friday, January 22, 2016

 

Mr. Valentine: Bowie was Japanese


Bowie was my first hero, when I was about 13 or 14, and now 35 years plus later, he remains my last. Now, after his death, and watching three of his last (Valentine's Day, Lazarus, and Blackstar) it seems to me that David Bowie was Japanese. I had always suspected it.

The sixties themed pop tune "Valentine's Day" has been argued to be a critique on gun violence (or the glamorisation and sexification of guns) since it starts and ends with the Charlton Heston pose (0:05 3:01, as above, guitar raised like a gun), shadows looking like a gun, guitar used as gun, bullet flying across the frets, his aiming and shooting of a make believe gun, the shadow of his guitar changing to that of a gun both during the Heston pose, and later in the song at 2:24 where the shadow of his guitar turns into a Tommy gun such as was used in "Valentine's Day Massacre".

There may be clues in the names. There were at least two massacres on Valentine's Day. "Teddy and Judy" may be gun shooting victims (I can find no real ones) or a reference to the pair in The Kinks "Waterloo Sunset" to which perhaps this song has a resemblance. Mr. Valentine is sometimes referred to as Johnny Valentine in an interview with a co-creator.

Someone else in the YouTube comments suggests that Valentine's Day may be about death in general which seems quite plausible to me, especially since the shadows behind Bowie sometimes seem to be that of a grim reaper (1:54) reaping Bowie (2:54).

The rest is my, rather off the wall, take in which I agree that the song is about death, but a self inflicted death, and possible rebirth.

First of all the Charlton Heston pose is also Heston's "my cold dead hands" pose: the pose of death.

I note that when Bowie sings about the face and hands of Mr. Valentine he is also showing us his own face (e.g. 0:55) or looking at his own hands (2:06 2:38), so I wonder if he may be referring to his own visual image which is icy and, like all images, dead. Our self images are also surprisingly "little" like Mr. Valentine (as one can convince oneself by drawing around the image of your face in a mirror, I think that this is why Noh masks see below are small).

This song reminds me of the first lines of his first pop video where he refers to himself as being small, and loving this image till a certain day "Love you till Tuesday"

Bearing in mind that Bowie is double, from the cover of Pinups and Hours, the smiling Asian Zaphod to whom he is conjoined at the head in "Where are we Now" and there are dead female eyes in all our minds, as claimed in Blackstar, Valentine's visual image may be paired up with the eyes. I.e. we love ourselves as images with the eyes of another in our minds. [ In this regard, I wonder if Bowie fell in love with his wife partly due to her name Iman, I man, eyeman, his Eve see below. ]

I claim that this is the structure of the Japanese self: the eye or mirror of the other Amaterasu and their face or "mask" (Watsuji). Usually Westerners however narrate themselves (Freud, Mead, Bruner, Bakhtin, etc) so the eyes in Blackstar would ordinarily be effeminate ears (c.f. Freud's "acoustic cap" "bonnet" or Nietzsche's ears, or Derrida's "Ear of the Other"). I think that Jones, Major Tom, Bowie, Ziggy, the Thin White Duke and Mr. Valentine had a tendency to narrate himself in the 3rd person, and identified with his image.

From this perspective we may be killing ourselves as we live, making a a dead image of ourselves, "falling to earth." Our true being is our consciousness but we believe that we are in the black hole that we believe to be in front of our light. Instead of living as our being, as the white star, we are turned inside out. In this situation death, "Valentines Day", or (Love you till) Tuesday, when we give up on that love affair, may conversely be life, a rebirth. Bowie may be alluding to this possibility in Lazarus.

The Biblical representation the eyes or ears in our heart may be Eve a comforter made out of our hearts, who we can replace with Jesus, or Amitabha for instance.

I should like to do a Charlton Heston Bowie Pose, when I die am reborn. I should be so lucky.

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

 

Henro: Sightseen Tourism and Pilgrimage


Urry (2002) , (Turner & Turner, 1995) and others persuade us that Western tourism is sightseeing: gazing upon things. I have argued elsewhere (40,000 views and zero comments. I took it off the Net!) that this gazing may in part be a form of reconstruction (the focus of Derridean Deconstruction) after the model of Mary, Jackson's fantasy (1986) that had never seen red. When Mary sees red for the first time we are persuaded by philosophical dualism: of (1) an ideal scientific world, in our heads and in spooky things in themselves, and (2) chimerical mere phenomenal like red. Mary's word "red" and the description of Frenchness in a guidebook, unaccompanied by qualia is like all the other castrated signs that Derrida (2011) argues Western philosophers parade before us (writing, speech acts, foreign words, indicative signs) before showing us the full dual sign and meaning in that moment when e.g. Culler's tourists (Culler, 1988) find a Breton wearing clogs and pronounce upon her. Behold! Frenchiness (it wasn't just a world but a Platonic ideal)! The Japanes have a tendency to go on tours with out looking. One commentator (Araki,1973, p10 below) bewails their tendency to get on trains and busses travelling through magnificent scenery which they ignore. The book above (Mori, 2014) has a "belt" telling potential purchasers that it will tell them the "hilstorical truth" of the protypical pilgrimage, the "Shikoku Henro" tour of 88 temples: a truth that pilgrims who walk the route will not be able to see. The temples themselves are above all named, possed of stamps, that pilgrims press on on a pad that they carry around their necks. Japanese pilgrims such show on the book belt, or such as monks in various blindfolding straw hats (above right), and Japanese travellers in pallanquins (top left) also have a tendency not even to try to look at the scenery. Travlling is about going to places of historical truth, picking up names rather than gazing at images. Japanese tourism is conversely about being seen. Japanese tourism is sightseen, *auto*photographed. Tatsuno (2001) writes that after completing the Henro pilgrimage he becomes, like Mario, able to see his own back. To (re)construct a Japapnese self one can practice a lot of set moves in a Japanese art, or visit a lot of named places on a set route picking up names. In either case one develops within oneself the eye in the sky of the Other. The tendency to collect names and engage in other Japanese tourism practices shows a negative correlation with feeling autoscopic, like Mario. So perhaps, when Japanese stop feeling like Mario, and need their autoscopy topped up, they cover their eyes, and go on tour. "歩いたあとは自分の後姿が少しは見えてきた。" (Tatsuno, 2001, p.3) http://ift.tt/1Sye6ph 私は旅しながら考えていた。。。日本人にとって旅とはいったいなんなのだろうか。指定車のの中である。車内は団体客でほぼいっぱいであった。賑やかな一行を乗せて列車は宮崎へと向かっていた。盃(さかずき)を汲み交わすもの手拍子で変声を張り上げるもの、通路を左往右往するもの、等々。 だが、その喧騒をよそに左手には昼下りの陽光をきらめかせながら春の豊後水道がのびやかにひろがっていた。窓外いっぱいに溢れるめくるめくような瑠璃色の空と海。-この壮麗さと無関係な旅が、いったいどうしてありうるのだろうか。。。車内のだれ一人として窓外に目をくれるものがなかったからである。(荒木,1973, p10) Culler, J. D. (1988). The Semiotics of Tourism. In Framing the sign. Univ. of Oklahoma Pr. Derrida, J. (2011). Voice and Phenomenon: Introduction to the Problem of the Sign in Husserl’s Phenomenology. Northwestern Univ Pr. Jackson, F. (1986). What Mary didn’t know. The Journal of Philosophy, 83(5), 291–295. Retrieved from http://ift.tt/1ZCX5JA... Turner, V., & Turner, E. (1995). Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture (0 ed.). Columbia University Press. Urry, J. (2002). The Tourist Gaze. SAGE. 森正人. (2014). 四国遍路 - 八八ヶ所巡礼の歴史と文化. Tōkyō: 中央公論新社. 辰濃和男. (2001). 四国遍路. 東京: 岩波書店. http://flic.kr/p/CMt7xX

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Monday, January 04, 2016

 

Otsuka Laser Sneakers



These Ostuka Lazer Sneakers are designed, I believe, to make Japanese feet - which are generally shorter than those of European descent - seem as long as a laser beam. They are long in the forefoot before the start of the laces and end in empty winkle picker toes. The laces, though they start higher on the foot, have a narrower pitch and also end higher on the foot to make it seem that the wearer is positively L shape. The whole shoe is as narrow as possible, in sporty sneaker style, but accentuates itself by the use of high gloss leather. These Japanese semi formal sneaker shoes are trying to tell us that their wearer has a body like a ballet dancer, with style, reserve, and finesse.

The Japanese are masters at visual self-enhancement. When you next meet a self-deprecating Japanese man, look at his feet.

You may also notice that he is standing in a Yohei pose to emphasize the thinness of one of this thighs.

Shoe design copyright Otsuka Shoe Manufacturers. お取り下げご希望でありましたら、下記のコメント欄、またはnihonbunka.comのメールリンクまでご連絡ください。

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

 

Accidental Death in Japan

Accidental Death in Japan

Japan is perhaps the safest place on earth, with perhaps the lowest death rate of any country on the planet when standardized for age of population. The above bar chart shows the low levels of accidental death in Japan. Pink bars are show sub-category composition data of the red bars above them.

There are however two areas in which Japan is less safe than international averages (shown in darker pink) one of which is especially pertinent at this time of year.

There are higher rates of chocking on foods, and higher rates of drowning in baths in Japan that in other countries. The elevated age of the Japanese population is one reason for these increased accident levels. Old people are more likely to choke on their food and to slip or otherwise fall below the waterline of their baths and be unable to get out.

Another reasons pertains to Japanese culture in each of these areas. Japanese baths have deeper traditionally cubic tubs which allow shared bathing (particularly mothers and children) and foetal positions for that pre-sleep return to the womb feeling.

In respect of choking, the Japanese enjoy a number of high-density, gelatinous foods such as konyaku, octopus and, the biggest killer, rice cakes (mochi) which are consumed especially at the beginning and end of the year. These high density foods enable the Japanese to enjoy a food rush without consuming the sort of quantity and weight consumed elsewhere of Christmas cake for instance. The fatalities to asphyxia as a result of rice cake eating are likely therefore to be far less than the fatalities due to obesity due to Christmas cake eating. Even so one should take care when eating rice cakes and perhaps gem up on ways to treat chocking in oneself and others (see below).

The above chart is based on my translation of Japanese government statistics available from Statistics Japan Table 5-31.

Other statistics of note to a Briton like myself, are that traffic accidents are so rare due to the great care that Japanese take on the roads one is almost as likely to choke on your food or drown in your bath than die on Japanese roads. Another fact that may take some visitors by surprise -- take care, drink water -- as many die from the heat of the Japanese summer (hyperthermia) as die from the cold (hypothermia). Animals cause 17 deaths per year due to brute force (including wild boar) whereas another 30 lives are claimed by dangerous animals (my mistranslation) including giant "sparrow hornets," the creatures that causes the most accidental death in Japan. From the sparrow hornets' point of view the death they cause is far from accidental. They are territorial and attack those that approach their nests and sources of food.

Treatments for Choking in Oneself and Others
Here is a video showing how to do the Heimlich manoeuvre (abdominal thrusts) on yourself, should you wish to dislodge a mochi stuck in your throat when you are on your own. Back slaps are recommended as the first thing to do to others, alternating with abdominal thrusts and chest thrusts once the patient is unconscious. If both don't work the brave of heart may wish to perform an airway incision centrally into the cartilage one inch below the voice box. A doctor performed this successful with a steak knife and barrel of a ball point pen (Daily Mail article with instructions)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

 

English Classroom of Light: Ameterasu and Eikawa

Ameterasu in the English Class
The Japanese have a mirror in their hearts that loves them.

I have started applying my theory of Japanese culture, which I call Nacalianism - Lacanianism backwards - in my English conversation classes. I argue that the Japanese move from the symbolic stage to the mirror stage and remain there (or would, were it not for the efforts of Japan's leaders to Westernise Japan).

This means that when forced to speak English, they feel as bad as Westerners do when they are forced to sit in front of mirrors. The experience of focusing upon their speech creates in them an "objective self awareness" similar to that created in a Westerner in front of a mirror. Since the Japanese do not enhance in the linguistic modality, nor Westerners in the visual, they find it unpleasant.

In order to make English class more pleasant therefore it helps, I believe to increase Japanese students' visual self awareness still further such that they are so visually aware of themselves that they do not become depressed by their objectification in English conversation. This has in the past been achieved in at least two ways.

Before the famous English conversation school, Nova, was forced into bankruptcy I noticed that one of the features of Nova classrooms was that they had glass walls. There was a Nova classroom in Kyoto station where passengers could see students taking English conversation classes at Nova. At other Nova establishments in less public places the students in one class could see students in others. This sense of seeing and being seen increased, I believe, their visual self awareness such as overcome the negative affect of verbal objective self awareness in the land without a verbal Other.

Another thing that I have noticed in those rare Japanese that speak English well is their tendency to move their hands a lot. This may be simply in emulation of foreigners and to get into the spirit or culture of the English language but often these gestures appear rather different to those of English speakers, and more like the speaker is conducting himself. I think perhaps that this self-conduction encourages Japanese English speakers to visualize themselves and again, combat the negative affect of verbal objective self awareness.

In my class today I failed to encourage students to conduct themselves, and could not take them to a glass walled classroom but I did set up a web camera so as to display a view of the students on the walls of the class. I found that this improved the overall atmosphere of the class and the students ability to speak English.

Video of the same class

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

 

Japanese Politeness and Nonsense Forms

Fear Not: Say No!
One of the main reasons why Japanese can't speak English is because they are too kind and polite to ask difficult or unanswerable questions of their conversation partners. It is not so much they fear grammatical mistakes (which my students keep making) but putting their partner on the spot by asking them something that their partner can not, because it is impossible, to answer. This forces them to check out the question that they are about to ask in Japanese first, and verify that it can be answered. This in turn puts them back into the reverse, Japanese mode of thought (precisely the reverse of English) slows their English production to a snail's pace, and prevents them from increasing their fluency. In order to encourage them to fire questions, from the hip, like a river of sludge, and throw themselves away as all the best martial arts encourage one to do I have also to persuade them that their partner will be just fine.

To that end, I am having success with these nonsense questions to which students are instructed to answer in the negative.

Japanese Politeness and Nonsense Forms

I introduce these exercises as being as the equivalent of practising parrying or blocking in Karate. If someone asks you a question that does not make any sense, just answer in the negative. Once students know that they can do this, and their partner can do this, and "block" senseless questions, then they feel more able to ask questions freely and fluently, senseless or not, without censoring themselves, and checking out all their English production in Japanese first.

Image: Noh Masks by Rosewoman.

 

Multi-Coloured Japanese Groups

Multi-Coloured Japanese Groups
Why is that Japanese groups are so varied? At the earliest level groups are made of members made of different foodstuffs, and then soon in super-sentai (power ranger) and PreCure groups contain members coded with different primary colours. In Manga there are usually groups formed of people with disparate sizes, characters, and even colours of their hair. Yowamushi Pedal, the manga about cycling, contains a red head, a blond and a guy with green hair. Slam Dunk, like most super sentai groups, chose to focus upon a red hero. Japanese boy bands are formed by their managers with members with disparate appearances and characters. There is usually an especially handsome one, a sporty member, a macho member, and a mixture of other types such as withdrawn, effete, and jokey (this characteristic may be shared by famous Western boy bands too).

And even within real Japanese social groups, there is a lot more diversity with Japanese not considering their friends more similar than their enemies, nor their enemies more alien than their friends (Heine, Foster, & Spina, 2009).

Yuki (2003) explains the cultural difference primarily using the concept of social identity (Tajfel, 1982). Western groups are formed and cohere by virtue of their effect upon the self esteem of their members. The more similar the group is, the more the members will bolster each other's ego by noting and praising this similarity, and slagging off (the psychological jargon is downwards comparison) other groups. "We Brits are rational, level headed, gentlemen. Those XYZ are temperamental, hot-headed, rogues." The enjoyment of pride as motivation for group membership and cohesion, Yuki argues, assimilates and unifies Western groups towards central group ideals. Japanese groups are not, we are told, formed for this "Good-Us Bad-Them" ego-massage-purpose so they are not so uniform.

Yuki also seems to suggest that there is a further opposite tendency to be disparate due to the way in which Japanese group members depend upon each other, in which mutual help network, group membership diversity leads to greater synergy and mutual assistance benefits.

I was convinced by Yuki's explanation. However, this year, a final year student (Egawa, 2015) has demonstrated a strong positive correlation between similarity and perceived helpableness. Whatever the economic truth of the situation, as Plato argued in his Symposium, we, or at least Japanese students, feel we can help someone who shares our goals and ambitions more than someone disparate: even our other half.

So why then are Japanese groups so diverse to the point of being multi-coloured? I suggest that it is for the same reason that Western groups are similar -- ego massage -- except as always, the difference is in the modality, and the way that modality is enhanced. If groups are, like Western egos, narrated then they are enhanced by the value and superiority of their central attributes compared to those of other groups. But if groups are something that are seen and imagined then outgroups are absent, and groups simply look better if they contain a certain amount of diversity, since diversity makes the members conspicuous, stand out, or in Japanese, "hikitatsu." Colours are nowhere more beautiful than alongside other colours, such as in a rainbow.

Heine, S. J., Foster, J.-A. B., & Spina, R. (2009). Do birds of a feather universally flock together? Cultural variation in the similarity-attraction effect. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 12(4), 247–258. Retrieved from onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-839X.2009.0128...
Tajfel, H. (1982). Social Identity and Intergroup Relations. Cambridge University Press.

This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.