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.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

 

Hidden by Awe: Asian Positivity almost out of the Closet

Hidden by Awe: Asian Positivity almost out of the Closet
In recent research (Takemoto, 2017 in Japanese) I have argued that the size and positivity of self-drawings are a better measure of Japanese positive self regard that self-esteem scale scores and found that self-drawing size correlates with perceived social support in Japanese males, and that positivity of self drawing (as measure by independent evaluators) correlates with perceived social support in both Japanese male and female students, whereas self-esteem is not predictive of social support at all. In the vernacular, Japanese people who 'stand tall' with good comportment and positive, large body image are popular, but people with 'big mouths' and high self-esteem are not especially popular at all.

In a recent esteemed study (Bai et al., 2017), in the most impactful social psychological journal, a similar result was hidden in a paper on "awe". First of it reported that in an initial 7 item scale selection of self-size, where participants were asked to circle a self-drawing that was appropriate in size to themselves from large (like the above bottom left) or small (like bottom right) was found to correlate strongly with linguistic measures of, above all self-esteem (r=.64**), perceived power (r=.61), general self-efficacy (r=.5**), sociometric-status (r=.47**) and self-entitlement (r=.2**) but not with height nor weight.

The fact, however, that Asian perceived self-sizes, when measured with a self-drawing at least, were larger than those of Westerners hardly receives attention at all, hidden as it was in considerations of "awe," which Westerners are more sensitive to, in Yosemite Park for instance. May the Gods of social psychology forbid that Asians are ever found to be more positive than Westerners! The above graph shows the average number of squares covered by self drawings adapted from Table 2 (Bai, et al., 2017 p.6) where Westerners are the average of North American and European respondents.

The same pattern was found for the size of "signature" (me, 我, 私)but since this will depend upon the script only in-country correlations would be meaningful, and provides an interesting connection between Asian self-esteem and calligraphy.

For how much longer will Asian visual positivity remain hidden? It will not be long now. The problem then arises, if the self is both linguistically and visually represented, who is it represented to?

The bottom half of the above image is reproduced without permission from Bai et al., 2007, figure 3, page 10. Should you wish for me to cease and desist please leave a comment or drop me an email to the email link at nihonbunka.com

Bai, Y., Maruskin, L. A., Chen, S., Gordon, A. M., Stellar, J. E., McNeil, G. D., … Keltner, D. (2017). Awe, the Diminished Self, and Collective Engagement: Universals and Cultural Variations in the Small Self. Retrieved from psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2017-20208-001/
Takemoto, T. 武本, Timothy. (2017). ジマンガ:日本人の心像的自尊心を測る試み(Auto-Manga as Prideful-Pictures: An Attempt to Measure Japanese Mental Image Self-Esteem). 山口経済学雑誌= Yamaguchi Journal of Economics, Business Administrations & Laws, 65(6), 107–138. Retrieved from nihonbunka.com/docs/Jimanga.pdf

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Invisibility Cloak Illusion Hypothesis

Invisibility Cloak Illusion Hypothesis
Recent research (Boothby, Clark, & Bargh, 2017) has found that Americans believe that everyone looks at objects about equally but that they observe others more than others do, and about twice as much as others observe themselves, even though this is not the case.

The authors termed this bias the "invisibility cloak illusion" since the data implies that we feel ourselves to be invisible, or indeed that we are invisible to ourselves as hinted at by some researchers (Smith, 1827; Rochat, 2009). This result is unlikely to be universal. Research by myself and colleagues (Heine, et al., 2008) has shown that Japanese are chronically visible to themselves at least in terms of simulated mirror images.

In other research we (Takemoto, & Imamura, 2001) have shown that schizophrenics are better at judging the size of their extremities than those without schizophrenia, judging hand sizes almost exactly at a typical 30cm viewing distance, and at 2 metres, whereas non schizophrenics judge hands to be 10-15% smaller than they are. This suggests that the bodies of schizophrenics at least are not invisible to themselves as also suggested by some schizophrenics (Pans Disease, 2017).

The misjudgement of hand sizes, but not bank notes, was found among Japanese participants who judged their hands to be up to about 15% smaller than in reality, possibly due to the fact that they identify with their mirror images, which they often do not see as being left-right reversed (Takano & Tanaka, 2007).

I predict that the invisibility cloak illusion (Boothby, Clark, & Bargh, 2017) will be absent among Japanese. Indeed the Japanese may feel that they are observed by others more than they observe others themselves. Further I feel that the researchers would profitably have asked two more types of question, "how often do you/others (simulate) observing yourself/themselves?" which would show a greater cultural difference being the lowest type of observation in the West, but perhaps having the highest reported/estimated incidence in Japan.

Image reproduced without permission from Boothby, Clark, and Bargh (2017, p. 9). Should you wish that I cease an desist please drop me a note in the comments or by mail to the email link at nihonbunka.com.


Boothby, E. J., Clark, M. S., & Bargh, J. A. (2017). The invisibility cloak illusion: People (incorrectly) believe they observe others more than others observe them. Journal of personality and social psychology, 112(4), 589.
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.
Rochat, P. (2009). Others in mind: Social origins of self-consciousness. Cambridge University Press.
Takano, Y., & Tanaka, A. (2007). Mirror reversal: Empirical tests of competing accounts. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60(11), 1555-1584.
Takemoto, T., Imamura, G. 武本Timothy and 今村義臣(2001)"分裂病患者の身体像:身体の末梢部位と物体の 大きさの恒常性" 九州社会心理学会, 佐賀大学

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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

 

Japanese and Western Art

Japanese and Western Art
When Western pictorial art arrived in Japan in the late Edo period the Japanese were amazed at how photographic it was. One of the first famous Western-Style Japanese artists, Shiba Koukan, wrote

"What is remarkable is that it (Western Art) enables one to see clearly something that is actually not there. If a painting does not truly portray a thing it is devoid of the wonderful power of art. Fuji-san is a mountain unique in the world, and foreigners who wish to look at it can do so only in pictures. However, if one follows only the orthodox Chinese methods of painting, one’s picture will not resemble Fuji, and there will be node of the magical quality in it that painting possesses. The way to depict Fuji accurately is by means of Dutch painting." (Shiba Koukan see Keene, 1952 p.67)

The traditional Japanese painting, following its Chinese model, attempted to "delineate the spirit" (Keene, 1952, p.66) of the subject resulting in idealised or mangarized representations of "beautiful women" (bijinga) for instance. The women in Japanese biinga (above left) are as uniform as those in Anime, and the mountains in Japanese and Chinese art, sharing essence of beauty or mountain.

To Westerners however, the image is usually seen as superficial, "mere image," (Aristotle, see Brenkman, 1976) a fact which facilitates the pictorial representation of people "warts and all" such as in the famous picture of Oliver Cromwell, above right.

This is the reverse of the situation in verbal, linguistic representations of people wherein Westerners are generally very idealised (braggart) and uniform, whereas Japanese say it how it is (Heine, Lehman, Markus, & Kitayama, 1999; T. R. S. Leuers = Takemoto & Sonoda, 1999; T. Leuers = Takemoto & Sonoda, 1999; T. Takemoto & Iwaizono, 2016; T. R. Takemoto & Brinthaupt, 2017; see also Takemoto, T. 武本, Timothy, 2017).

More notes
From Jay 1993, p13
Monotheistic religions, beginning with Judaism, have been deeply wary of pagan idolatry. The fictional character of artificial images, which can only be false simulators of the "truth," has occasioned distrust among more puritanical critics of representation. St. Pauls celebrate warning against the speculum obscurum, the glass (or mirror) through which we only see but darkly, vividly express this caution about terrestrial sign. Religious distrust was also aroused by teh capacity of vision to inspire what Augustine condemned as conupiscentia ocularum, ocular desire, which diverts our minds from more spiritual concerns. These and like suspicious have at times come to dominate religious movements and dictate long-standing religious taboos. Mose's strugge with Aaron over the Golden Calk, the Islamic rejection of figural representation, the iconoclastic controversy of the ieghth-centruy Byzantine church, the Cistercian monasticism of St. Bernard, the English Lollards, and finale the Protestant Reformation all express the antiocular sub-current of [Western] religious thought. In fact this hostility remains alive today. in the worl of such theologians as Jaqcues Ellul, whos Humiliation of the Word, written in I981, reads like a summa of every imaginable religious complaint against the domination of sight.

Images
Late 17th century Left Beauties by Utamaro Kitagawa
Oilver Cromwell, "Warts and All" by Sir Peter Lely

Bibliography
Brenkman, J. (1976). Narcissus in the Text. Georgia Review, 30(2), 293–327. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/41399656
Heine, S., Lehman, D., Markus, H., & Kitayama, S. (1999). Is There a Universal Need for Positive Self-Regard? Psychological Review, 106(4), 766–794. Retrieved from humancond.org/_media/papers/heine99_universal_positive_re...
Jay, M. (1993). Downcast eyes: The denigration of vision in twentieth-century French thought. Univ of California Press. dq=Downcast+Eyes:+The+Denigration+of+Vision+in+Twentieth-Century+French+Thought&ots=SFqXjWmi3P&sig=HgLHWdIcJGXKiAVAmqMCyioZJD0
Keene, D. (1952). The Japanese Discovery of Europe: Honda Toshiaki and Other Discoverers, 1720-1798. Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Leuers = Takemoto, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (1999). Independent self bias. Progress in Asian Social Psychology, 3, 87–104. Retrieved from www.nihonbunka.com/docs/independent_self.rtf
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., & Iwaizono, M. (2016). Autoscopic Individualism: A Comparison of American and Japanese Women’s Fashion Magazines. 山口経済学雑誌= Yamaguchi Journal of Economics, Business Administrations & Laws, 65(3), 173–205. Retrieved from ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/40021076383/
Takemoto, T. R., & Brinthaupt, T. M. (2017). We Imagine Therefore We Think: The Modality of Self and Thought in Japan and America. 山口経済学雑誌 (Yamaguchi Journal of Economics, Business Administrations & Laws), 65(7・8), 1–29. Retrieved from nihonbunka.com/docs/Takemoto_Brinthaupt.pdf
Takemoto, T. 武本, Timothy. (2017). ジマンガ:日本人の心像的自尊心を測る試み(Auto-Manga as Prideful-Pictures: An Attempt to Measure Japanese Mental Image Self-Esteem). 山口経済学雑誌= Yamaguchi Journal of Economics, Business Administrations & Laws, 65(6), 107–138. Retrieved from nihonbunka.com/docs/Jimanga.pdf

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

 

Japanese Mirror Images not Felt to be Reversed!

Humans have a tendency to feel that people and letters of the alphabet (and other familiar symbols) are reversed left to right when viewed in a mirror. Yohtaro Takano (Takano & Tanaka, 2007) and associates at the University of Tokyo contend that these feelings of reversal are due to different processes partly because, according to their experiments on Japanese university students, only approximately half of students feel their mirror images to be reversed in a thought experiment (Takano & ? paper in Japanese), and only two thirds feel themselves to be reversed when looking at themselves in a mirror (Takano & Tanaka, 2007), whereas all subjects felt that letters of the alphabet are reversed when looking at them in a mirror.

Professor Takano also notes that in all previous literature, presumably from Western subjects, the vast majority of people have felt themselves to be reversed in mirrors. Since this is a Japanese trait, that this is a very important finding and may be useful as an indicator of Nacalian Specular Self-hood (Takemoto & Brinthaupt, 2017): those that have a secular self do not feel themselves to be reversed in mirrors.

But why? Bearing in mind the theory of Judith Butler (1993; thank you Professor Masamune) it is precisely the practice of repetitive poses in Japanese arts (Zeami see Yusa, 1987), archery (Yamamoto, 2009) and rituals that permeate society (Miyanaga, 1987) that allow Japanese to have a view upon themselves and imagine their movements. This would seem to be a making an iterable, repeatable symbol of the body. Hence if Japanese have made a symbol of their bodies, one might expect that it would be precisely Japanese that would experience symbols and bodies reflected in mirrors in the same, reversed, way.

All the same, I think that this is really getting to the crux of the matter. I guess that the Japanese have symbolized their bodies (made symbols of their bodies) but at the same time, as is true of the "I" of the Western self-narrative, to the Japanese the mirror image is a symbol that symbolises the self.

There should presumably be some temporal reversal that Westerners do not feel in the sphere of self narrative as suggested by psychological and neuroscientific research (Nisbett and Wilson, 1977; Haidt, Libet). Japanese on the other hand should be aware that their explanations are post facto add hoc.

I also wonder if Japanese feel selfies are or appear to be reversed since they are opposite to mirror reflections. They too also appear to be very similar to symbols or stamps, as suggested by the above image. The above selfie stamp is special in that the camera is taking a photo in both directions. A normal selfie however is directed towards the object that has been the subject of gaze with the subject walking around to appear in that gaze, and photo.

Butler, J. (1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex. Routledge.
Takano, Y., & Tanaka, A. (2007). Mirror reversal: Empirical tests of competing accounts. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60(11), 1555–1584. doi.org/10.1080/17470210601137102
Takemoto, T. R., & Brinthaupt, T. M. (2017). We Imagine Therefore We Think: The Modality of Self and Thought in Japan and America. 山口経済学雑誌 (Yamaguchi Journal of Economics, Business Administrations & Laws), 65(7・8), 1–29. retrieved from http://nihonbunka.com/docs/Takemoto_Brinthaupt.pdf
Miyanaga, K. 宮永國子. (1987). 日本のロボットと土着文化. 社会心理学研究, 2(2), 7–13. (Does not mention mirroring explicitly but argues that performing rituals allow japanese to concieve of them as images, which may presupose autoscopy)
Yamamoto, I., 山本一輝. (2009). メンタルトレーニング~弓道を通じた自己イメージのあり方~(Mental Training: The way of self imaging achieved through Japanese Archery) (未発表卒論). 山口大学経済学部観光政策学科.
Yusa, M. (1987). Riken no Ken. Zeami’s Theory of Acting and Theatrical Appreciation. Monumenta Nipponica, 42(3), 331–345.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

 

Bars Beyond the Logodome

Bars Beyond the Logodome
Dr. Washida, a philosophy professor and contributor to the Asahi Newspaper holds that appearance is merely skin deep and that the self is a symbolic/linguistic construct, as argued by many Western philosophers and psychologists. Dr. Washida also sometimes draws attention to ways in which Japanese culture is blissfully non-verbal or, in my words, beyond the logo-dome.

In the above article, quoting Oota Kazuhiko, Dr. Washida notes that aficionado clientèle of quality Japanese bars do not need to order drinks, or even speak to the proprietors, because the latter will read the customers gestures, body language, and cup-fullness, in such a way as to provide drinks without having to be asked, applying the principle of proactive empathy sasshi and Japanese style hospitality (omotenashi ) for which Japan is famous.

Consistent with the notion that language is coextensive with self, Dr. Washida draws attention to Taku Satou's (another bar designer) assertion that in bars like these the boundaries (or silhouette rinkaku) between customers is blurred. The absence of language generally suggests the absence of self, communitas, collectivism. I contend that the same time there is no shortage of Japanese ego in a Japanese bar: the customers faces, and their Watsujian persona, or specular selves are present, bright, full, to the point of being plethoric (Heine, Takemoto, Moskalenko, Lasaleta, & Henrich, 2008; Takemoto & Brinthaupt, 2017; 武本, Timothy, 2017a, 2017b).

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。

鷲田清一. (1996). じぶん・この不思議な存在. 東京: 講談社.
Watsuji, T. (2011). Mask and Persona. Japan Studies Review, 15, 147–155. Retrieved from http://asian.fiu.edu/projects-and-grants/japan-studies-review/journal-archive/2011.pdf
和辻哲郎. (1937). 面とぺルソナ. 岩波書店.
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 http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~heine/docs/2008Mirrors.pdf
Takemoto, T., & Iwaizono, M. (2016). Autoscopic Individualism: A Comparison of American and Japanese Women’s Fashion Magazines. 山口経済学雑誌= Yamaguchi Journal of Economics, Business Administrations & Laws, 65(3), 173–205. Retrieved from http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/40021076383/
Takemoto, T. R., & Brinthaupt, T. M. (2017). We Imagine Therefore We Think: The Modality of Self and Thought in Japan and America. 山口経済学雑誌= Yamaguchi Journal of Economics, Business Administrations & Laws, 65(7・8) 79-108. http://nihonbunka.com/docs/Takemoto_Brinthaupt.pdf
武本, Timothy. (2017a). ジマンガ:日本人の心像的自尊心を測る試み(Auto-Manga as Prideful-Pictures: An Attempt to Measure Japanese Mental Image Self-Esteem). 山口経済学雑誌= Yamaguchi Journal of Economics, Business Administrations & Laws, 65(6), 351–382.
武本, Timothy. (2017b). 日本古来:心象的自尊心の可能性(From the Dawn of Japan: Self-Esteem in Mental Imagery). 山口経済学雑誌, 65(3・4), 173–205.


Monday, May 01, 2017

 

Eat with the Eyes

Eat with the Eyes
"Further, the Japanese are said to eat with their "eyes". The two pillars of beautiful food layout (moritsuke) are those of French and Japanese cuisine. I am privately of the opinion that the Japanese can sate their desire for food if not their appetite by eating with their eyes alone. There are shelves packed with highly visual cooking books in Japanese book stores. There are displays of highly detailed model food in windows of Japanese restaurants and canteens. This sort of phenomenon is rarely seen outside of Japan. How did this cultural peculiarity arise and what role does it serve? Their are still many riddles to be solved in the psychology of food." (Imada, 2005, p.58, my translation)

I could not agree more and believe this eating with the eyes to be a major reason for Japanese svelteness, that an the fact that in general the Japanese live with their eyes too.

Imada, S. 今田純雄. (2005). 食べることの心理学―食べる、食べない、好き、嫌い. 東京: 有斐閣.

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