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.

Monday, April 03, 2017

 

Proving Neulinger's View of Western Leisure

Proving Neulinger's View of Leisure

Neulinger (1981, p.15) views leisure as being those activities which are both
1) Free of constraint from others
2) Intrinsically motivated
When I am explaining this in class I sometimes find it difficult to distinguish between 1 and 2 but Samdahl's research (1988) unpacks the two and proved Neulinger's hypothesis among a Western population.

Samdahl (1988) had subjects carry a beeper which beeps at random times, at which subjects were required to record the extent to which they regarded their current behaviour to be leisure. It was found that it is only in when they rated their behaviour as being "expressing their true selves" and "independent of the expectations of others," that they judged their behaviour to be leisure, and conversely when their where not expressing their true selves (!?) and behaving according to the expectations of other people that they judged their behaviour to be negative leisure or onerous.

Bearing in mind cross cultural work on motivation (Iyengar & Lepper, 1999) and control (Morling, 2000) it could be predicted that at least the latter condition that the perception of leisure content of activities be free of the expectations of others, may even be reversed in a Japanese sample. Doing things purely for "self-satisfaction" (jikomanzoku, jikoman) is perceived as being rather drear or egotistical, like staring at ones navel, whereas activities which make others happy are often, in the popular Japanese Zeitgeist at least, described as being fulfilling. It would therefore be interesting to carry out the same experiment on Japanese subjects. In this days of smart-phones with email, I could use a service like Boomerang, LetterMeLater, or Deferred Sender to send subjects an email at a random time and have them rate their behaviours according to Samdahl' criteria.

Hypothesis, to the Japanese happiness (shiawase) is experienced when what one is doing (shi) matches (awase) the doings and expectations of others. In other words, the high Jleisure condition may be the right most bar in the above graph.

Image from (Mannell, Kleiber, & others, 1997, p.114, based on Samdahl, 1988)

Bibliography
Iyengar, S. S., & Lepper, M. R. (1999). Rethinking the value of choice: a cultural perspective on intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(3), 349. Retrieved from psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/76/3/349/
Mannell, R. C., Kleiber, D. A., & others. (1997). A social psychology of leisure. Venture Publishing Inc. Retrieved from www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/19981800757.html
Morling, B. (2000). ‘Taking’ an Aerobics Class in the US and ‘Entering’ an Aerobics Class in Japan: Primary and Secondary Control in a Fitness Context. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 3(1), 73–85.
Neulinger, J. (1981). To Leisure: An Introduction. Allyn & Bacon Boston, MA.
Samdahl, D. M. (1988). A symbolic interactionist model of leisure: Theory and empirical support. Leisure Sciences, 10(1), 27–39. Retrieved from www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01490408809512174

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

 

How Unnverving is Conformance?


The American social news media site, Digg says that this video is unnerving. I guess that is because Westerners do not like conformance. On the other hand, the majority of Japanese comments on YouTube below the video are positive. This could be due to the prevalence of individualism vs collectivism and to an extent I would agree but, according to me, it is because Westerners lack individuality and must strive for difference lest they mind-meld, whereas Japanese are loaded with quirkiness -- as is clearly Professor Ikeguchi, the inventor -- and admire those individuals and metronomes that strive towards harmony.

See for example Masaki Yuki's research (Yuki, Brewer & Takemura, 2005) on Japanese and American groups for proof.

同調は不気味でしょうか。
ディッグというソーシャルニュースサイトによれば、このビデオは不気味です。同調するものが好きではないからでしょうかな。下記日本人のコメントは主に肯定的です。個人主義 対 集団主義で解釈されそうですが、それもありでしょうが、欧米人は個性が不足しているから努力して反発しなければ考えが同化してしまいそうですが、池口先生を初め、日本人は逆に個性に富むので協和に励む人間(やメトロノーム)を肯定的に思うというのは持論です。

結城雅樹(Yuki, Brewer & Takemura, 2005)の米国と日本の集団のあり方についての実証的研究をご参照ください。

Yuki, M., Maddux, W. W., Brewer, M. B., & Takemura, K. (2005). Cross-cultural differences in relationship-and group-based trust. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31(1), 48-62. Retrieved from http://kokoro.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en/cultureko_net/pdf/Yuki_et_al_2005PSPB.pdf

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

 

Satoshi and the Budda

Who is Satoshi?
Satoshi whose name means "clear thinking," or enlightening* is a boy with the voice of a woman, who loves and cuddles his pocket monster friend: the character Pika Chuu. Pika when he speaks, only speaks his name.

As in the above image, and rather disturbingly, Satoshi is often displayed decapitated from the neck up cuddling his friend. Only his female voice can be heard. It seems likely that the Pocket Monster Trainer, Pocket Monster combination is another representation of the structure of the self, in which we (or at least the Japanese) are the little monsters.

Bearing in mind the size of consciousness, while we all generally do it, there is little more bizarre than believing oneself to be a character in a mirror, a name or the hero of a narrative, but Satoshi is so big, so hermaphrodite, and cuddles us so tightly and lovingly that we can't bear to look in the direction of the Enlightening.

Being hugged, reminds me of, as mentioned earlier, in a slightly different version, a Pure Land Buddhist monk description of his brush with enlightenment. The Reverend Shinkuu Beppu would go to bed early, get up at midnight, and chant for 5 hours from about one in the morning.

On the advice of a friend that he should continue his chanting in the belief that the Buddha has come to within 9 feet in front of him, Beppu writes "So today, I thought I would chant Amida, the name of the Buddha of Light, as if he were 9 feet in front of me but, if nine feet then why not eight feet, seven feet, five feet, four feet, three feet, two feet, one foot. I can still remember thinking six inches when suddenly, Amida hugged me so tightly. I could feel Amida's tight embrace in both my arms.
And then, I heard Amida's voice "You say help me, and that you want to meet me, but way before you realised it, wasn't I hugging you all along? Can't you feel my* heart?" (Beppu, 1986, p. 60, rough translation by me)

Notes
* Satoshi is the noun form of the intransitive verb Satosu "make wise," a cognate of "Satori," the noun form of "Satoru" to become enlightened.
**the Buddha's heart

Chanting as one imagines an approach may be a good idea.

Here is The Shinkuu Beppu quote in the original Japanese
「九尺前に生き身の如来様がおいでる
と思うて念仏せぬば百日やっても行は成就しない、とおっしゃっている事を思い出して、
ならば今日は、九尺前に如来様がいらっしゃる事にしようと思いつつ念仏としていましたが、九尺ならば、八尺でもいいじゃないか、八尺なら七尺でも、六尺でも、五尺でもいい、四尺でも、三尺でも、二尺でも、一尺でも5寸でもいいわけです。
この五寸でもよいと言うところ迄は記憶があるのです。6寸を過ぎた後、私はガバッと如来様に抱き締められました。ぐいぐい抱き締めてくる感覚が両の腕に伝わってくるのです。
そして、お前は助けてくれとか、お逢い下さいとか言っているが、お前が気づく、遥かはるか昔から私はこうしてお前を抱き締めているではないか、この私(仏)の心が分からないのかという如来様のお声をしっかり聞きました。」 (別府, 1986, p. 60)

The above image copyright the copyright holders of Pokémon, my rendition of a frame from a Pokémon animation that my daughter was watching on YouTube.

Bibliography
Beppu, S. 別府信空.(1986).『慈悲ー別府上人法話集ー』(Compassion: Collection of the preaching of the Reverend Beppu).東京:正受院.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

 

Origin of the Kit Kat®

Origin of the Kit Kat®
The origin of the Rowntree's now Nestle's Kit Kat® is believed to be in an early 18th century English gentlemen's club called the "Kit Cat Club", after its proprietor Mr. Christopher Catt who provided sustenance -- Kit Cats -- which where given an abbreviation of his name.

Here above the members can be shown performing the traditional toasting or roasting of a young girl, Lady Mary Pierrepont, who is being made to stand on a chair, with their Kit Kats, which were made available only to the male clientèle.

Lady Mary Pierrepont, later Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, understandably, grew up to be a women's rights activist who introduced small pox vaccinations into the UK. She travelled to the orient which she wrote about with praise. She penned "Letters from Turkey" and "Woman not Inferior to Man."

The Kit Kat Club was located at one time in Hampstead where the Kit Kat House stands to this day (photo). Since I think Japanese travel to famous named places, often associated with origins, I think that Kit Kat House is a potential Japanese tourist destination, especially if there were speciality flavour Kit Kats (of which the Japanese have many, including sweet potato flavour) were on sale.

Kit Kat's are popular in Japan since they do not have as many calories as pure chocolate bars and because their name puns on the Japanese words for definitely win, (kitto katsu) and so are given to high school students taking Japanese university entrance examination as sustenance and a good luck charm. But, little do they know the origin of the Kit Kat.

Altered image originally by Charles Green is believed to be in the public domain.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

 

Book Personification in Japan and America


Book Personification in Japan and America
Marius Brill, an author who was in my class at primary school wrote "Making Love: A Conspiracy Of The Heart" about a book that is alive and speaks. I read it and thought that, at the very least, the idea of a living book about love was excellent. Bearing in mind that Westerners tend to have a "narrative self" (Bruner, Hermans and Kempen, Gottshcall, Denett and many others) believe themselves to be "the hero of their own self narrative" (Nisbett, in conversation) and come from a religious tradition in which "the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us", and that our lives are recorded in the book of Saint Peter, the personification of books is not without precedent. In Japan however, I argue the self is that which is portrayed by a mental manga, movie, or animation, centring upon the face or mask (Watsuji), the main God is a mirror made heart, and the Japanese version of St. Peter (Lord Enma) keeps only the names of the dead in his book; their lives recorded on a DVD-like mirror, and masks and statues are more often personified or animated. To test the hypothesis that Westerners would be more likely likely to personify books than Japanese I googled "top 100 English novels" choosing the top of the list and counted the number of books with then name of an individual (such as the first two on the list Ulysses and "The Great Gatsby) and people (such as "Sons and Lovers") and similar such titles in a list of 100 Japanese novels to find that yes, there are more personified Books in the Western tradition. There are quite a lot of personified novels in Japan too such as Bocchan, and the Dancer from Izu resulting in a non significant trend (Chi Squared p <.1).

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Friday, October 28, 2016

 

Japanese Trick


Japanese Trick
Name the food item below your flag, saying it aloud, ten times and then name the body part in the lower part of the picture. The Japanese for pizza (piza) rhymes with the Japanese for knees, and since elbows somewhat resemble knees in appearance and the word for knees and elbows is simiilar (hiza and hiji respectively), Japanese who have been made to say piza ten times are inclined to call their elbows knees. I don't think that even if a Briton were asked for say peas one hundred times before naming the body part they would ever call their elbows knees and not only because the two words are less similar but also because their is a greater phoneme to meaning connection felt by anglophones, compared to Japanese who feel meaning to be conveyed more strongly by images.

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The Japanese Hate Puns


The Japanese Hate Puns
I used to marvel at the fact that one of the most famous brands of watch in Japan is a pun on coitus (Seikou) among a variety of other things. To the Japanese it is not the slightest bit notable nor amusing. There are too many homonyms and puns in the Japanese language for anyone to find them funny. Meaning is expressed by pictorial characters more than phonemes and many of these characters are read with the same phoneme so unless one calls to mind the character the phoneme is polysematic by itself. Making sequences of assocations to test the hypothesis is very difficult to make associations that do not run along more than one, both linguistic and visual, line. The linguistic association post box (yuubin posuto) to some tubing (chuubin) either vian a mid sized bottle (chuubin) to tube (chuubu) or not, could also be made visually and directly due to the fact that a post box is tubular. I am not sure if anyone else would associate the post office mark with the mark for shrines. And the post box could be associated directly with the shrine as both being associated with the Japanese state: as an instantiation of what was Japan post and the Japanese state religion. In any event, punning associations are likely to be weak in Japan. Japanese people generally just cringe when jokes are attempted with puns. Images from the Google image search. お取り下げご希望の場合は下記のコメント欄か、http://ift.tt/2doaLKR

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Pizza Elbow Japan


Pizza Elbow JapanThe black and white image bottom right (Oobuchi, 2011) labelled "inside the mind" shows a network of associations between words. At the top is Pizza which rhymes with the Japanese word for knee (hiza) which is often associated with hiji elbow. In typical logo centric fashion the textbook, written by a Japanese psychologists (presumably influenced by Western psychology), is claiming that there is an indirect link between pizza and elbows due to their linguistic association.

It is my view that the Japanese mind may in fact have a stronger network of visual associations shown bottom left such that I hypothesise that pizza would be felt to visually resemble the Japanese flag, which is in turn associated with a map of Japan so, there is an indirect visual association between pizza and the shape of the Japanese archipelago. I hypothesize that these visual associations would be stronger than the former linguistic associations among Japanese compared to Westerners, but this would be difficult to prove since the same linguistic associations could not be made.

Instead of the elbow, an anglophone might be asked if they associate the pizza with a fridge symbol using the association by rhyme of pizza -> freezer and the association by first letter and physical similarity freezer -> fridge. But then pizza is kept in a fridge so even if anglophones chose it they might be doing so due to holistic associations of visual contiguity. I think I would need to use Japanese subjects and some sort of priming manipulation of culture.

The pizza elbow connection is used by Japanese school boys in a sort of trick where the victim is asked to say pizza ten times before being asked the name of the elbow, which instead of calling a hiji (elbow) is inclined to call a "hiza" having been influenced by the repetition of pizza (piza in Japanese). I think that this trick works also shows that Japanese are fairly insensitive to phonetic semantic connections. If I were told to repeat "pea" ten times I would not call my elbow my knee.

お取り下げ後希望の場合は下記のコメント欄か、http://nihonbunka.comで掲示されるメールアドレスに誤一筆ください。Should the owner of the copyright of the thumbnails used above wish that I stop using them then please be so kind as to drop me a note in the comments below or to the email link on my website nihonbunka.com

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Pizza Elbow Japan


Pizza Elbow JapanThe black and white image bottom right (Oobuchi, 2011) labelled "inside the mind" shows a network of associations between words. At the top is Pizza which rhymes with the Japanese word for knee (hiza) which is often associated with hiji elbow. In typical logo centric fashion the textbook, written by a Japanese psychologists (presumably influenced by Western psychology), is claiming that there is an indirect link between pizza and elbows due to their linguistic association.

It is my view that the Japanese mind may in fact have a stronger network of visual associations shown bottom left such that I hypothesise that pizza would be felt to visually resemble the Japanese flag, which is in turn associated with a map of Japan so, there is an indirect visual association between pizza and the shape of the Japanese archipelago. I hypothesize that these visual associations would be stronger than the former linguistic associations among Japanese compared to Westerners, but this would be difficult to prove since the same linguistic associations could not be made.

Instead of the elbow, an anglophone might be asked if they associate the pizza with a fridge symbol using the association by rhyme of pizza -> freezer and the association by first letter and physical similarity freezer -> fridge. But then pizza is kept in a fridge so even if anglophones chose it they might be doing so due to holistic associations of visual contiguity. I think I would need to use Japanese subjects and some sort of priming manipulation of culture.

お取り下げ後希望の場合は下記のコメント欄か、http://nihonbunka.comで掲示されるメールアドレスに誤一筆ください。Should the owner of the copyright of the thumbnails used above wish that I stop using them then please be so kind as to drop me a note in the comments below or to the email link on my website nihonbunka.com

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

 

No Need to Hear What They are Saying


The guys in blue in the above images are are flattering (saying oseji). The linguistic content of their flattery matters so little that there is no need to be able to read the captions, or if it were a real situation, to hear what the people are saying because the situation, body language and the ubiquity of the phenomena gives it all away. Japanese flatter each other so phatically that contradiction ("iya iya" of the guy on the right) is expected, anticipated, and if you are an adult Japanese person, usually carried out. The act is the focus and medium of the message, and massage (McLuhan & Fiore, 1967), while the linguistic content is the 'context' (Hall, 1976), the 'wrapping' (Hendry, 1995) and the 'emptiness' (Barthes, 1983) that merely facilitates.

I confess that I am still inclined to say "thank you," and accept the linguistic content as if it were meant sincerely, socially inept as I am.

Images originally in black and white by Michio Hisauchi in Ishihara, 2006, p21 and p23
お取り下げご希望の場合は下記のコメント欄か、http://nihonbunka.comで掲示されるメールアドレスにご一筆ください。

Bibliography
Barthes, R. (1983). Empire of Signs. (R. Howard, Trans.). Hill and Wang.
Hall, E. T. (1976). Beyond Culture. Anchor Press.
Hendry, J. (1995). Wrapping Culture: Politeness, Presentation, and Power in Japan and Other Societies. Oxford University Press, USA.
Ishihara, S. 石原壮一郎. (2006). 大人養成講座 (PB版). 東京: 扶桑社.
McLuhan, M., & Fiore, Q. (1967). The Medium Is the Massage. JSTOR. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/30217390

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

 

Reading the Customers Mind


Reading the Customers Mind
A Japanese capsule hotel manager, Akikazu Fukumoto, explains the essence of Japanese style hospitality (omotenashi) and why it would be impossible to replace his staff with robots in two sentences,
at the three minute mark in a video on robot staffed hotels in Japan by Motherboard.

My translation (for the original Japanese see below)
"Our hotel has the heart of Japanese hospitality (omotenashi no kokoro) and must therefore be staffed by humans. Our staff must be human because we behave proactively anticipating the thoughts and needs of the customer. "

The Motherboard translation is slightly off the mark since the hotelier does not "respond" to the needs and thoughts of the customer but pre-empt -- saki mawari, literally go around in front of -- them. If it were merely a case of "responding" to the needs and thoughts of their guests, the hotel could wait for the guests to express them verbally, and use robots, or untrained staff working to a manual, as is the case in Western style, customer makes overt choices, "help yourself" (Doi, 1973, p.13) hospitality.

Japanese hospitality is, when it works, a sort of "mirror dance" (Krieger, 1983) where the providers read the minds of their customers via their faces and behaviour, adjusting their own behaviour on the fly accordingly.

Contra what I have written elsewhere however, this hotelier seems to be implying that the thoughts of the customer are not expressed by their behaviour but come afterwards, perhaps in linguistic form. At its most effective, Japanese hospitality should preempt, and even prevent, the arrival of such thoughts by satisfying the need before the thought arises. The manager also mentions however, a "heart" (kokoro) that exist prior to the thought, at least in the hotelier. This Japanese heart has traditionally been refereed to as a mirror such as in the preface to the record of ancient matters (Kojiki).

Bibliography
Doi, T. (1973). The Anatomy of Dependence. Kodansha USA.
Krieger, S. (1983). The Mirror Dance: Identity in a Women’s Community. Philadelphia: Temple Univ Press.


うちのホテルにはおもてなしの心があるんで、人間じゃないとだめです。お客様のほしいこと、もしくは思っていることを先回りして考えてこうどうするんで、やっぱりおもてなしのこころは人間じゃないとだめだと

The "please help yourself" that Americans use so often had a rather unpleasant ring in my years before I became used to English conversation. The meaning, of course, is simply "please take what you want without hesitation," but literally translated it has some a flavour of "nobody else will help you," and I could not see how it came to be an expression of good will. The Japanese sensibility would demand that, in entertaining, a hose should should sensitivity in detecting what was required and should himself "help" his guests. To leave a guest unfamiliar with the house to "help himself" would seem excessively lacking in consideration. This increased still further my feelings that Americans were a people who did not show the same consideration and sensitivity towards others as the Japanese. As a result, my early days in American, which would have been lonely at any rate, so far from home, were made lonelier still. (Doi, 1973, p.13)

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

 

Life Expectancy vs Health: A Liars Paradox


Life Expectancy vs Health: A Liars Paradox
It is quite difficult to get objective data about the well being and health of a nation. In research on perceived well being (Cummings, 1998) based upon Licket scaled linguistic tests developed by Diener (Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985), the Japanese are found to be among the most unhappy people in the world. There are a number of reasons for this. The reference group effect (Heine, Lehman, Peng, Greenholtz, 2002) encourages respondents to compare themselves to their ingroup peers, so if those surrounding the subject are happy it is going to be difficult to rate oneself as of above average well-being or happiness. And further, while Asians tend to be humble, Westerners tend to "self-enhance."

Alas however, despite the lack of reliability of self-report measures, the prime minister of Japan (Abe, 2013) is alarmed by the fact that Japanese children do not, like American children, self-report that they are "proud of their country. The lack of pride of the Japanese is seen as cause for concern.

But the results to these self-report surveys should in my view be ignored. One of the most obvious ways to out the lack of veracity of the self report data is to compare life expectancy with self-reports of health. The Japanese have the highest life expectancy of any country in the OECD survey, but together with their Asian neighbour, the lowest response in rates of "good" or "very good" in answer to "“How is your health in general?”

That 35.4% of the Japanese report themselves to be in the top two categories of a five point scale is within 4.6% of the level that it should be assuming realism and an honest, parsimonious, even distribution of people responding with each of the five categories. More than 80% of people from the top four anglophone countries, however, find it meaningful to say that their health is "good" or "very good". What does "good" or "very good" mean to these people? It is clearly not an expression of the true state of their health. I suspect it is self encouragement, or auto-eroticism as Derrida (1976) likes to call it. In the Christian tradition pride was thought to be the origin of or equivalent to sin(Hastings, Mason, & Pyper, 2000) but these days positivity is king.

All these self-report scales should indicate is that the Japanese do not lie about their happiness and health. Alas there are many Japanese who believe the data, and believe that they are as a nation, living a long time in poor health compared to other nations. Concerned at these results Japanese children, and adults, are being encouraged to rate themselves more positively. The whispering is being imported to Japan.

Graphs from p.72 OECD (2015) How's Life? 2015 Measuring Well-being DOI:10.1787/how_life-2015-en

Bibliography
Abe. S., 安倍晋三. (2013). 新しい国へ 美しい国へ 完全版 (『美しい国へ』増補・再編集・改題書版). Tōkyō: 文藝春秋.
Cummins, R. A. (1998). The second approximation to an international standard for life satisfaction. Social Indicators Research, 43(3), 307–334. Retrieved from link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1006831107052
Derrida, J. (1976). Of grammatology, trans. G. Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.
Hastings, A., Mason, A., & Pyper, H. (2000). The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Heine, S. J., Lehman, D. R., Peng, K., & Greenholtz, J. (2002). What's wrong with cross-cultural comparisons of subjective Likert scales?: The reference-group effect. Journal of personality and social psychology, 82(6), 903.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

 

After the Bubble: Why haven't the Japanese bounced back?

After the Bubble: Why haven't the Japanese bounced back?
Western meritocracy based management styles arrived at about the time as the economic bubble burst, in the early nineties (Myung T. S., 2013) with a view to curing the post bubble depression. Till then the Japanese had imported Western technological expertise but had employed it with the vigour and enthusiasm of the Japanese soul (wakonyousai 和魂洋才) or psychology. These Western methods of ability and performance evaluation are destroying the non logocentric (non-linguistically-formulated, non-codified, non-rational) company culture that made Japanese companies great.

The Japanese salarymen in newly meritocratic companies are like the think aloud group in Heejung Kim’s brilliant (2002) "We Talk therefore We Think," experiment in which the problem solving ability of East Asians was reduced. Linguistic self-appraisal is at variance to the lived autoscopic (Heine, Takemoto, Moskalenko, Lasaleta, & Henrich, 2008; Takemoto, T., 2003) tradition, and so results in a sort of double bind, that just wears the Japanese down.

Till then Japanese companies codified and evaluated their employees in different ways (De Mente, 1990). It was not that Japanese companies were completely without performance objectives but that they were not put into words. Not all employees were deemed fit to keep rising through the ranks (nekoujouretsu 年功上列). Some employees were sent out into the sticks (sasen 左遷) or left by the window (madogiwazoku 窓際族) if they did not put in the graft. But employees were not graded according to their TOEIC score or their sales gross. Rather than encouraging everyone to merge with and assess themselves according to the linguistically defined company objectives, it was recognised that that a plurality of person types, achievers, the able, and facilitators, go to make a good company team (Yuki, 2003).

Places like Toyota with enough strength of tradition call paperwork (shiryou 資料) quantum of death (shiryou 死量) (Wakamatsu, 2007) but I fear they'll all go down the tubes, like Mitsubishi, eventually with the big now governmental push for linguistic quantisation, standards and objectives.

To take an analogy from Japanese mythology I could say that the mirror of the Sun Goddess is being hidden by the whispering of flies, but that would make it sound all too arcane and mystical. There is nothing particularly arcane or mystical about the way in which the Japanese did business. The Japanese did business like tennis players play tennis. If you ask a tennis player how come they do such a great serve they will become worse at it due to the additional cognitive load of having to describe the motion of their racket (Eagleman, 2012, p. 74). Likewise if you are designing a beautiful car then you don't want to mess around with paperwork and checkboxes.

It would take a long time before the Japanese are reborn as whisperers who like to listen to themselves think (Derrida, 1998), so I fear they have a long way down to go. It is all very logical but very sad. Other than Derrida and Luther their are few critics of reason, and it may even be possible for subalterns (Spivak, Nelson, & Grossberg, 1988) to criticise, so what can they do? And now alas with all their money printing, which is perhaps the whispering on a global economic scale, the Japanese may have entered into a very unfortunate type of pact. But I live in hope.

What can be done? Perhaps Toyota managers need to become politicians. Perhaps as Uichol KIm has argued, there could be increases in literal transparency in terms of open-plan offices, glass doors, visitation, the publication of results in photographic and "signage" (kanban 看板) form. It could also be argued that the Japanese need to alert to themselves once again, to the dangers of printing money and praising the self. At the psychological level these are low self esteem or 'outgroup discrimination' (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). At a geopolitical level I fear these may translate into inflation or military conflict.

Bibliography
De Mente, B. (1990). Japan’s Secret Weapon: The Kata Factor : The Cultural Programming That Made the Japanese a Superior People (1st ed.). Phoenix Books.
Derrida, J. (1998). Of Grammatology. (G. C. Spivak, Trans.). JHU Press.
Eagleman, D. (2012). Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (Reprint edition). New York: Vintage.
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
Myung T. S. 明, 泰淑. (2013). 日本企業の成果主義人事制度の現状と課題. 産研論集, 44(45), 15. Retrieved from sapporo-u.repo.nii.ac.jp/?action=repository_action_common...
Spivak, G. C., Nelson, C., & Grossberg, L. (1988). Can the Subaltern speak. In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (pp. 271–313).
Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. The social psychology of intergroup relations?, 33, 47.
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.
Yuki, M. (2003). Intergroup comparison versus intragroup relationships: A cross-cultural examination of social identity theory in North American and East Asian cultural contexts. Social Psychology Quarterly, 166–183. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/1519846.pdf
若松義人. (2007). トヨタの上司は現場で何を伝えているのか. Tōkyō: PHP研究所.
Takemoto, T. (2016) ジマンガー日本人の心像的自尊心の測定の試みー. in preparation.

Image from today's Asahi Newspaperお取り下げご希望でありましたら、下記のコメント欄かnihonbunka.comのメールリンクからご一筆いただければ幸いです。

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

 

Psychological Keynsianism Japanese Style

Psychological Keynsianism Japanese Style
Westerners have a tendency for self praise. Indeed thought, which has been shown not to be will (Libet, 2009; Nisbett and Wilson, 1977) may be a stream of self comforting, justifications (Haidt, 2001), or even a negotiation" (Rochat, 2009) or sexual self-stimulation (Derrida, 1976) that we whisper and of which we are ashamed (Quran 50:16).

Whispering in the mind is similar to Keynesian macroeconomic stimulation of the fiscal kind. Westerners tell themselves that "I can do it," "I'll will win" and motivate themselve to do just that. They feed themselves empty simbols, that otherwise have exchange value, to get a postive feedback loop going. Central banks print money, symbols that otherwise have exchange value, to get an economic positive feedback loop going. Both work in the short term but may become an addictive maelstrom of self-stimulation in the longer term.

With regard to the mental self-stimulation it has been shown that the the Japanese probably do not do it, at least nearly so much (Kim, 2002; Heine et al., 1999). Japanese sports persons refrain from self praise even when they win. This is not to say that there is not a Japanese equivalent to self-praise. The sports person picture above in the Yamaguchi Newspaper indulged in Psychological Keynsianism Japanese style. Before the final of his rock climbing event he brought forth an imagine in his mind of himself, winning the event in the spotlight in front of the massive crowd. This image helped propell him to his win, with unconstrained enthusiam (nobi nobi 伸び伸び).

One possible advantage of the Japanese style of self-stimulation is that it may not require comparison (Yuki, 2003).

Linguistic signs always exist and have meaning in distinction to other signs (De Saussure, 2011; Maruyama et al., 1993, p19). "I will win" implies someone will loose. "I am great" implies, if "great" is to have any meaning, that someone else is not great. Unless there is to be rampant inflation some nefarious technique of maintaing the myth of 'everyone is better than average' must be brought into play. This is often achieved for instance by the negative evaluation of outgroups (Said, 1979; Tajfel and Turner, 2004). British people can be all "great", because orientals are all "savages". British people could all be rich because they took wealth from the rest of the world.

The Japanese are even better than Americans at maintaining a myth that everyone is better than average (Hamamura, Heine, & Takemoto, 2007). Their technique of just imagining the beauty, however, does not necessarily require downward comparison. In the case of the sportsperson above it is true he imagined himself winning but the important thing was that he was in the spotlight. Downwards comparison was not present nor necessary. Indeed conversely it may be the case that Japanese psychological Keynsianism can feed off positivity, such that Japanese like to imagine, and photograph, themselves alongside the triumph and beauty of others. Japanese tourists, armed with selfie-sticks are masters at 'basking in reflected glory' (Cialdini et al., 1976).

Japanese economic self-stimulation has generally taken the form of public works projects to construct roads, and various "boxy" (hakomono) infrastructure. Such public works were generally funded by loans. Perhaps Japanese sports person can only pump themselves up with images of victory if they accept that there will be a payback time (perhaps at the moment of victory, when the spotlight is not all that enjoyable after all).

Recently, both on the psychological and economic front however the current prime minister of Japan is encouging the Japanese to praise themselves (Abe, 2006), and resorted to symbolic, fiscal stimulation of the Japanese economy. The Bank of Japan is printing yen and purchasing Japanese government bonds. The Prime Minister also espouses an increase in Japanese millitary strength. It seems to me that simbolic self-stimulation, without inflation, and violence go hand in hand. I think that this physical recreation of the Western mind in the global pollitical economy is the 'unveiling' that we need to avoid.

Bibliography
Abe, S. (2006). Utsukushii kuni e [Towards a beautiful country]. Tokyo: Bungei Shunju.
Cialdini, Robert B., et al. "Basking in reflected glory: Three (football) field studies." Journal of personality and social psychology 34.3 (1976): 366.
Derrida, J. (1976). Of grammatology, trans. G. Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.
De Saussure, F. (2011). Course in General Linguistics [1916]. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: a social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological review, 108(4), 814.
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.
Heine, Steven J., Darrin R. Lehman, Hazel Rose Markus, and Shinobu Kitayama. "Is there a universal need for positive self-regard?." Psychological review 106, no. 4 (1999): 766.
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.
Libet, B. (2009). Mind time: The temporal factor in consciousness. Harvard University Press.
Maruyama, M. et al. 丸山圭三郎, 行人柄谷, 健二立川, 秀岸田, & 芳郎竹内. (1993). 文化記号学の可能性 (増補完全). 夏目書房.
Nisbett, Richard E., and Timothy D. Wilson. "Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes." Psychological review 84.3 (1977): 231.
Rochat, P. (2009). Others in mind: Social origins of self-consciousness. Cambridge University Press.
Said, E. W. (1979). Orientalism. Vintage.
Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (2004). The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behavior.
Yuki, M. (2003). Intergroup comparison versus intragroup relationships: A cross-cultural examination of social identity theory in North American and East Asian cultural contexts. Social Psychology Quarterly, 166–183. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/1519846.pdf

Image: Deliberately blurred photo of an article in the Yamaguchi Newspaper from October 2016.
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Addendum
(The Rocking Horse Winner is a masterpiece with whispering, money and even a Buraq)

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Friday, October 14, 2016

 

The Japanese Octopus Pot Runneth Over

The Japanese Octopus Pot Runneth Over

Masao Murayama's theory of the "octopus society" (MacFarlane, 2010) claims that Japanese society is like a lot of octopus pots (image above bottom cropped from wikimedia). Octopus pots are traps for Octopi. The Octopus crawls into the trap and thinks it is safe inside a hole in the seabed but in fact it is pulled up by a string. The Japanese are trapped within their pots which represent their minds, which are also claimed to be empty, lacking a centre. MacFarlane (2010, p78) paraphrases a Japanese source as saying "Our friend seemed to be saying the he imagined that westerners feel filled at the centre with an individual soul and personality, while a single Japanese is like an empty room," and Fukuzawa similarly as claiming ": 'The millions of Japanese at that time were closed up inside millions of individual boxes. They were separated from one another by walls with little room to move around (ibid).' A similar "empty centre," theory is espoused by the late great Jungian psychologist of Japanese mythology, Hayao Kawai (河合, 1982). Kawai seems to have forgotten about the mirror which the book of Japanese mythology claims is the heart of the Japanese (The Kojiki Preface).

These octopus pot, empty centre theories are the opinions of Japanese word merchants like Fukuzawa. As previously mentioned, the Japanese tradition was not to care "a hair on their heads" about such hot air. The Japanese care about "the warehouse of their acts" (Kai)">, or as far as they are yet to be completed, their dreams (as expressed by the picture by Michio Hisauchi, showing Japanese standing in an elevator in Ishihara, 2006, p53). Empty of words they have been demonstrated to be (Kim, 2002) but in my view the Japanese heart may lack a centre (who needs one?) and is not trapped, but runneth over with images and dreams (Takemoto, 2003).

Ishihara, S. 石原壮一郎. (2006). 大人養成講座 (PB版). 東京: 扶桑社.
河合隼雄. (1982). 中空構造日本の深層. 中央公論社.
Kim, H. (2002). We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
MacFarlane, A. (2010). Japan Through the Looking Glass. Profile Books.
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.
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Cruel Manga on the Rise

Cruel Manga on the Rise

While the level of homicide (and youth crime) has been decreasing in Japan, it seems to me that there has been a contemporaneous increase in the number of violent Manga published.

The image above shows the number of "cruel" (残酷) manga published in each year based on a ranking of the same at jp-manga.com (link givenin bibliography). Parasyte (『寄生虫』) (1990) is the first published, tops the ranking and is reviewed below.

Before trailing off in 2015 and 2016 (possibly because the most recent manga have yet to develop a following) the numbers of cruel manga published increases to reach a peak in 2014 with such titles as "Tokyo Gu-ru:re" (東京グール:re about cannibals in Tokyo), "Girl May Kill" (ガール・メイ・キル about a cute looking assassin with a knife), Virgin Wars (乙女戦争 about 15th warrior girl in Bohemia), "Gnosis March" (グノーシス・マーチ about vampires), Magic Girl Site (魔法少女サイト about a girl that makes a pact with an evil web site), "One Hundred Years War" (百年戦争 about siblings, a brother and sister, forced to become mercenaries on opposing side of the titular war), "Funeral Procession of the Rose King" (薔薇王の葬列 about a hermaphrodite in the English Wars of the Roses), Hole Murderer (穴殺人 about someone who looks through a hole in a wall at the girl next door to find that she is a serial killer) and more, some of which are cruel in love rather than violence. The "violence" tag at the same website in a subset of the Yakuza genre rather than about violence in general. Some of the reason for the rise in the number of cruel manga in this ranking will be due to the fact that the site's viewers will be those reading manga now and thus more familiar with manga published recently.

While there are many that blame violence upon the proliferation of violent fiction in movies, animation and manga, it may conversely be the case that the proliferation of violent fiction provides a fictional outlet for violence which would otherwise manifest itself in reality.

I can't comment on how "cruel" most of these manga are since I have not read them. I can vouch for the fact that "Parasyte" (Iwaaki, 1990), The only manga in the above list that I have read, contained some pretty gruesome violence, cruelty. The violence often takes between men and women in scenes where alien parasites bite the heads off their date or spouse (as shown in the bottom row in black and white above). Alien parasite worms invade and grow to replaced the heads of their victims, who became headless bodies for a morphing, carnivorous Sphinx-head. The hero of the manga is a boy whose is invaded by an emotionless, ultra-rational parasite who only invades the boy's right hand, and acts as his assistant in dispatching the hand's head-invading brethren. The boy spends a lot of his time speaking to his hand. In the sense that he is spoken rather than seen by his paracyte, the hero is rather like a Westerner in Japan.

The violence in "Parasyte" was both graphic and particularly cruel due to the way in which the victims were often killed by a member of the opposite sex who they assumed loved them the most. The murderous opposite-sex partner (sibling, girl next door) trope seems to be continued in a more than one of the other seven manga listed.

Another review of Parasyte is here.

Bibliography
Iwaaki, H. (2011). Parasyte 1. New York: Kodansha Comics.
jp-manga.com (2016) Ranking of 残酷 manga, retrieved from www.jp-manga.com/list_t/%e6%ae%8b%e9%85%b7/all/default_1....

Should anyone wish that I cease and desist please be so kind as to contact me via the comments below or the mail link at nihonbunka.com. お取り下げご希望の場合は下記のコメント欄か、http://nihonbunka.comで掲示されるメールアドレスにご一筆ください。

Addendum
I can see now how Nietzsche was able to call his "spirit of gravity" a dwarf on his shoulders.

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Homicide in Japan


Homicide in Japan
Japanese media, and indeed media around the world, become more effective in selling their products by alarming their audience, there is a tendency to believe that things are falling apart and that for instance, there is increased violence. In Japan the level of homicide has dropped by about 70 percent in the time that I have been here. Looking at Intentional Homicide Rates, Japan is now at a level bettered only by Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Iceland. The next non small Island or City state of Austria has a muder rate almost twice that of Japan. In the UK the rate is about 3 times that of Japan and in the US thirteen times.

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Sunday, October 09, 2016

 

Misunderstood Japan

Misunderstood Japan
Someone asked on Quora what do foreigners misunderstand about Japan. I answered as I always do that Foreingers at least since Ruth Benedict (1946) think that Japanese shame is external, imposed on them from the outside, when in fact the Japanese live in the sight of the Sun God, Amaterasu, or Otendou-sama (Funahashi, 2008) who watches from within their hearts.

This explains why for instance, the Japanese do tidy up not only football stadia (even when their national team loses) but also tidy up in the privacy of their hotel rooms (Funahashi, 2008, p.166) and toilet cubicles which they leave as if unused, contra non-Japanese guests.

Conversely it is because Japanese care about how things look from a special perspective in their hearts, NOT from the point of view of other people, which is the reason why Japanese cities are a bristling, bubbling morass of individuality as opposed to rows of houses all looking the same.

The above images are the Google image search results, at half size, for:
I Top) British public toilet inside
2) Japan public toilet inside
3) Tokyo Street
4) London Street

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Friday, October 07, 2016

 

Walk the Walk

Walk the Walk
Kaishu Katsu pictured above was a late Edo period Bakufu government samurai who, with the approach of the Meiji restoration revolutionary forces, successfully argued for the surrender (or "opening") of Edo castle.

When the famous contemporary intellectual Yukichi Fukuzawa (who appears on 10,000 yen notes) criticised Katsu for a lack of stoic loyalty, which Fukuzawa felt he should have held onto, even in the face of defeat, Katsu responded with the following poem.

行蔵(こうぞう)は我に存(そん)す。
毀誉(きよ)は人の主張、我に与(あずか)らず我に関せずと存じ候(そうろう)。
各人へ御示し御座候とも毛頭異存(もうとういぞん)これなく候。
勝海舟

My acts are me, are mine
Blame and praise are what other people claim
Tell them to all the world for all I care not one hair
Knowing them to be nothing to do with I
Kaishu Katsu 

He went on to lead the Japanese navy and become one of the most successful statesmen of the Meiji period.

Hiroshi Nakata's poem "the most precious thing" which appeared in his "Miracle" poem collection appears to be a homage to Katsu's earlier work.

思想は揚言のうちにない。
行蔵(こうぞう)のうちにしかない。

Our thoughts are not among the things we've said aloud
But only in the things we've done.

Image from Katsu Japanese language wikipedia page.

 

Separate Flesh One Heart Oath

Two Bodies One Heart OathThe Shinto shrine at which my wife and I were married gave us a wedding oath in which it was written that we were to remain "different bodies, but now with one heart" (異体同心).

This presents an interesting contrast with the conception of marriage as becoming one flesh in Genesis 24.

"21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs [sides] and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man. 24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."

I know that there is a Nacalian transformation to be had here -- well it is obvious and overt -- but I don't know what it means to become "one flesh."

Perhaps it goes like this.

In the West God, in one of his persons, listens and for the faithful becomes a comforter (paraclete, generalised other, impartial spectator, super addressee) shared by all, whereas visual perspectives are "dialogical" in the Bakhtinian sense, always polysemous, seen from the point of view of others, so that my face is not my self (Nishida), but "a face for a face" (in Nacalian inversion of Mori's "you for you"). While visuality in the West remains polysemous and subjective in general, among married couples ones appearance may become primarily above all for the eyes of ones spouse.

In Japan however the kind old sun is watching, and presents a gaze apart that his shared by all. However language remains polysemous so that in general the Japanese first person pronoun is as Arimasa Mori says no more than a "'You' for a 'You.'" However among Japanese married couples perhaps, the Japanese linguistic superaddressee becomes ones spouse.

In each case, therefore, perhaps "our better half" takes the place of the perspective not occupied by God. I can see how that might work to make Western couples one flesh (c.f. Terrence Malik's ""We were a family... Each standing in the other's light.") but it is pretty strange to me that a Shinto Shrine might, under this interpretation, call the self-narrative the heart.

But then again, Shinto has become very wordy post-Meiji, modelling itself upon Western monotheisms and handing out oaths like this, and may even have forgotten, like Prime Minister Abe, and Seiichi Tsuruta (鷲田清一) that the Japanese heart is a mirror. In this morning's Asahi Newspaper Professor Tsuruta came back to his senses.

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