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 18, 2016


Trad Healthy Japanese Food Packs

Trad Healthy Japanese Food Packs
No one has time to cook, and so many people are single. Lawson to the rescue.

I am not sure what the foods are but I know that they are very tasty and for the most part very healthy. I am not into meat myself so I would not purchase the last three in this list but the rest I would like to eat in great quantity.

Wafuu Salada Japanese style salad
NIkujaga, Japanese Beef and potato stew
Chikuzen Ni,  Stew from the Chikuzen Region
Yasai Mame,  Beans and Vegetables
Kuro Mame,  Black Beans
Hokkaidou Kintokimame,  Hokkaidou Golden Time Beans
Kinpira Gobou,  A root vegetable mix
Kiriboshi Daikon,  Cut and dried giant mellow raddish
Hijiki Ni,  Stewed (Sargassum fusiforme) seaweed
Takenoko Tosa Ni, Tosa region style stewed bamboo sprouts
Gomoku Shirae Tofu, and 5 types of vegetable
Gobou Konyaku, Root vegetable and glutenous mass!
Third Row
Hosaki Menma  Some sort of chopped bamboo sprout made spicy
Satsuma Imo Ni, Boiled Sweet Potatoes
Demigurasu Hanba-gu, Demigrasse Hamburg Steak
Chi-zu Iri Hanba-gu ,Hamburg Steak fille with Cheese
Mi-tobo-ru, Meatballs

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, September 17, 2016


Suckable Japanese Ice Cream

Japanese Suckable Ice Cream
This Kawabata Ichiba (market) (map in Doujou Monzen Arcade in Yamaguchi Ciry offers ice cream at 30 percent off the recommended retail price. Note the availability of red bean and green tea flavours both in three different varieties.

There are also suckable Coolish tubes of ice cream are only 130 calories for the chocolate flavour. In contrast to most Japanese foods which are enjoyed primarily with the eyes, which I prefer, one can eat a tube of Coolish ice cream without seeing the brown or white stuff at all.


I think perhaps that the prevalence of suckable foods in Japan is a return to the breast kind of thing. Japan probably has the longest period of breast feeding of any nation in the world, with some mothers breast feeding till primary school. Macfarlane argued that Japanese mothers breast for the longest in Asia (Macfarlane, 1987, see Dykes, Fiona, & Hall-Moran, 2009) and compared to British women only 28% of whom breastfeed their infants at 4 months, nearly 70% of Japanese women breast feed until the end of the 4th and 60% till into the 5th month (Dykes, Fiona, & Hall-Moran, 2009, p.62).

Japanese men especially I think consume suckable food products into adulthood. One ostensible reason for suckable food products is due to Japanese being so busy, which may be true because their is never too much to do for children so matriarchies tend to be busy. Another reason for suckable foods is due to the taboo on public food consumption, especially while standing and worse, while walking. The latter is felt to be an offence both to those required to watch you eat, and to the person who prepared the food which is not being savoured but consumed on the hoof. So in addition to being a possible breast substitute, Japanese suckable foods are also a clever way of eating quickly and surreptitiously.

Dykes, F., & Hall-Moran, V. (Eds.). (2009). Infant and young child feeding. John Wiley & Sons.

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 16, 2016


Cleaning Products Unstolen

Cleaning Products Unstolen
In many of the toilets in my university there are cupboards about half the size of a toilet cubicle containing cleaning products and utensils and toilet paper, the latter at the very least being of value to to university students. When it comes to thievery, as note by visitors to Japan since the Edo period(Bird, 1880; Cocks & Thompson, 2010; Coleridge, 1872; Golovnin, Rīkord, & Shishkov, 1824; Golovnin & Shishkov, 1819), the Japanese are the mist scrupulous people in the world.

Percentage Wallets Returned with Money

This scrupulousness extends to lost property where research has found that Tokyoites were for instance three times more likely than New Yorkers to return wallets containing money to the police (17 of 20 wallets in Tokyo, 6 of 20 in the Big Apple, see West, 2003 and the image above based upon Table 1, p. 374). Alas Japanese scrupulousness does not necessarily extend to all things, especially on occasion to speech acts which are assessed on their imagined consequences. I wonder if there is a way of creating a phonetic version of the Milgram Lost Letter experiment(Milgram, Mann, & Harter, 1965) to test Japanese verbal integrity.

In any event the Japanese are very kind in all ways towards visitors.

Bibliography (all online)
Bird, I. L. (1880). Unbeaten Tracks in Japan: An Account of Travels in the Interior Including Visits to the Aborigines of Yezo and the Shrines of Nikkô and Isé. J. Murray.
Cocks, R., & Thompson, E. M. (2010). Diary of Richard Cocks, Cape-Merchant in the English Factory in Japan, 1615–1622: With Correspondence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Coleridge, H. J. (1872). The life and letters of St. Francis Xavier : in two volumes. Asian Educational Services.
Golovnin, V. M., Rīkord, P. Ī., & Shishkov, A. S. (1824). Memoirs of a Captivity in Japan, During the Years 1811, 1812, and 1813: With Observations on the Country and the People. H. Colburn and Company.
Golovnin, V. M., & Shishkov, A. S. (1819). Recollections of Japan: Comprising a Particular Account of the Religion : Language : Government : Laws and Manners of the People : with Observations on the Geography : Climate : Population and Productions of the Country : to which are Pre-fixed Chronological Details of the Rise : Decline : and Renewal of British Commercial Intercourse with that Country.
Milgram, S., Mann, L., & Harter, S. (1965). The Lost-Letter Technique: A Tool of Social Research. Public Opinion Quarterly, 29(3), 437,438. Retrieved from http://www.communicationcache.com/uploads/1/0/8/8/10887248/the_lost-letter_technique-_a_tool_of_social_research.pdf
West, M. D. (2003). Losers: recovering lost property in Japan and the United States. Law & Society Review, 37(2), 369–424. Retrieved from bem.law.ui.ac.id/fhuiguide/uploads/materi/mark-d-west.......

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Idiotropic or Visual Up Swayed by Images of Self and Others

Idiotropic or Visual Up and SelfIdiotropic or Visual Up and People
Which of the grey partially illuminated disks looks the most convex?

Since humans tend to feel that light comes from above, then disk which is "illuminated" from direction that the subject feels to be "above" will appear to be the most convex. This will be likely to be the uppermost disk if one bases ones judgement upon all the information outside the picture, such as the pressure on your skin from your chair, and the historical/narratival information regarding where you know up to be, "idiotropically" (Oman, 2003), and the lowest disk should appear convex if one bases the decision regarding "up" on the visual information in the photograph.

The Japanese are often described as being context dependent, this being due to their "groupist/conformist" tendency to pay attention to others around them (Nisbett & Masuda, 2007). While I accept that there is some truth in this, and that certainly a philosophy of "harmony" is very prevalent in Japan, and that of individualism equally in the West, I argue that in fact the Japanese have a strong visual sense of self and attend to themselves and others visually, largely because their self love and self-division (Smith, 1770/2002, pp.101,102) is in the visio-spatial, rather than in the linguistic domain. Whereas Westerners whisper to themselves in order to evaluate themselves (Bakhtin, 1986; Mead, 1967; Vygotsky, 1986), Japanese imagine themselves using the mirror in their head (Heine, Takemoto, Moskalenko, Lasaleta, & Henrich, 2008).

The philosophies of independence and collectivism are I believe secondary to the differences in mode of self-cognition being due to the way in which members of each culture can obfuscate the self-division. Westerners think that they think because they are talking to themselves, as true individualists might, when in fact they are talking to a horrific intra-psychic "ear of the other" (Derrida & McDonald, 1985). Japanese think that they are concerned with the gaze of real external others as conformists are, when in fact they are watching themselves from a horrific intra-psychic "seeing of detached perception" ("離見の見", Yusa, 1987, p.331). The horror and purported social philosophy (individualism or collectivism) function to keep the self-love hidden, and the self intact.

If Japanese contextualism were driven by a groupist tendency to conform then pictures of people should encourage them to reorientate the direction of up towards the direction of the picture more than those of photos which do not contain people but do contain "intrinsically polarised" objects (Howard, 1982). If Japanese visio-contextuality is motivated as I suggest, by autoscopic self-love, then pictures of other people would be little more likely to influence decisions regarding orientation more than pictures of people-less cityscapes, whereas pictures of themselves would be the most likely to interfere with their visual self-identification and swing the direction of "up" the most.

However, the "Honi Phenomenon" (Dion & Dion, 1976) found that there was less context induced optical illusion in an Ames Room when viewing a loved spouse rather than a stranger, at least in women. This is presumably because people are more likely cut significant, loved others out of the total context, in a way parallel to the "cocktail party effect" (Pollack & Pickett, 1957) wherein, out of a buzz of conversation, one can pick out utterances of ones own name.

The strength of sway of the perceived direction of "up" may therefore be inversely proportional to the significance of the “intrinsically polarized” (Howard, 1982) objects in the visual background.

Image adapted from figure 2 in (Jenkin, Dyde, Zacher, & Jekin et al., 2005)

Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Eds., V. W. McGee, Trans.) (Second Printing). University of Texas Press. Retrieved from pubpages.unh.edu/~jds/BAKHTINSG.htm
Dion, K. L., & Dion, K. K. (1976). The Honi phenomenon revisited: Factors underlying the resistance to perceptual distortion of one’s partner. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33(2), 170. Retrieved from psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/33/2/170/
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
Howard, I. P. (1982). Human visual orientation. John Wiley & Sons.
Jenkin, H. L., Dyde, R. T., Zacher, J. E., Zikovitz, D. C., Jenkin, M. R., Allison, R. S., … Harris, L. R. (2005). The relative role of visual and non-visual cues in determining the perceived direction of ‘up’: experiments in parabolic flight. Acta Astronautica, 56(9), 1025–1032. Retrieved from www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576505000445
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press.
Nisbett, R. E., & Masuda, T. (2007). Culture and point of view. Intellectica, (46–47), 153–172.
Oman, C. M. (2003). Human visual orientation in weightlessness. In Levels of perception (pp. 375–398). Springer. Retrieved from link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/0-387-22673-7_19
Pollack, I., & Pickett, J. M. (1957). Cocktail party effect. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 29(11), 1262–1262. Retrieved from scitation.aip.org/content/asa/journal/jasa/29/11/10.1121/...
Smith, A. (2002). Adam Smith: The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from www.ibiblio.org/ml/libri/s/SmithA_MoralSentiments_p.pdf# (Original work published 1770)
101 When I endeavour to examine my own conduct, when I endeavour to pass sentence upon it, and either to approve or condemn it, it is evident that, in all such cases, I divide myself, as it were, into two persons; and that I, the examiner and judge, represent a different character from that other I, the person whose conduct is examined into and judged of. The first is the spectator, whose sentiments with regard to my own conduct I endeavour to enter into, by placing myself in his situation, and by considering how it would appear to me, when seen from that particular point of view. The second is the agent, the person whom I properly call myself, and of whose conduct, under the character of a spectator, I was endeavouring to form some opinion. The first is the judge; the second the person judged of. But that the judge should, in every respect, be the same with the person judged of, is as impossible, as that the cause should, in every respect, be the same with the effect. pp.101,102
Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and Language. (A. Kozulin, Trans.). Cambride, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Labels: , , ,


Idiotropic and Visual Judgements of Up

Idiotropic and Visual Judgements of Up

First enlarge the image so that it fills up most of your screen, and then answer the question, which of the four partially illuminated grey disks appears to be the most convex?

Humans tend to feel that light comes from above: the "up" direction as it does in daylight. The direction of illumination is one of the many ways in which humans orientate the up and down in their world. One of the reasons why people may have the illusion that passenger aeroplanes are flying upside down at night, when the ceiling lights are off, is because the only light comes from emergency lights in the floor.

In the above diagram the four partially "illuminated" grey disks will appear to be convex if their shading is felt to correspond to the natural downward direction of illumination. People who judge "up" "idiotropically" (Oman, 2003) based upon what they know to be up from the gravitational sensors in their ears and pressure on the skin, and narratival memory of which way was up before they started looking at the picture, will feel the uppermost disk to be most convex, whereas those that base their judgement of "up" upon the surrounding visual information (the park scene in the background) will feel that the lowest disk is the more convex, with analogue variation between the two.

Both decisions are equally context dependent -- holistic or contextual. Choosing the bottom disk is more visual context dependent whereas choosing the top disk it anything utilises more context information (as detailed in the previous paragraph). I predict that Japanese will be more likely to feel that the bottom disk is convex basing their "up" direction upon visual information, whereas Westerners will be more likely to feel that the top disk is more convex, making an idiotropic context dependent decision.

Image adapted from figure 2 in (Jenkin, Dyde, Zacher, & Jekin et al., 2005)

Jenkin, H. L., Dyde, R. T., Zacher, J. E., Zikovitz, D. C., Jenkin, M. R., Allison, R. S., ... & Harris, L. R. (2005). The relative role of visual and non-visual cues in determining the perceived direction of “up”: experiments in parabolic flight. Acta astronautica, 56(9), 1025-1032.
Oman, C. M. (2003). Human visual orientation in weightlessness. In Levels of perception (pp. 375-398). Springer New York.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Contextualism in Time and Space

Contextualism in Time and Space
Possibly the most interesting utterance for me at the recent IACCP conference in Nagoya was that by Yoshi Kashiima in his role as discussant on the presentations by Hazel Markus and Shinobu Kitayama. Professor Kashima expressed interest in the fact that while the Japanese self is contextual (felt to change and changes according to the geo-socio context) it is also time invariant. Wow. A penny dropped. 

The Japanese members of the society, or at least those that live in Japan, are incredibly time invariant. The majority of these esteemed researchers appear to be and behave as if in a 'motionless present' (Geertz, ): they have not changed a bit. Consider Professors Shinobu KItayama, Minoru Karasawa, Masaki Yuki, Susumu Yamaguchi. Their appearance especially, and to a large extent their pluck (gennkisa) and even research interest is time invariant. Most seem even to have grown younger.

Western, or Western domiciled esteemed researchers, have on the other either changed in appearance or changed their research interest considerably. Professor Steven Heine is well kept, but does not dye his distinguished hair and has moved from self-enhancement, through the essence of culture, the WEIRDness of Westerners, to sleep. Professor Hazel Markus has moved from theoretical research on the independent self (possible selves), through the famed distinction, choice and now to the application of her student's theory.

The Japanese self is "imaginary" (Naclan, Takemoto), or "lococentric"  (Lebra 2005) and as image is bound to its background (Masuda) so changes according to geo-social context. I knew this much before hearing Yoshi Kashima's comment.

But, thanks to Yoshi Kashima I now realise that, it is also true that the Western self as narrative is also contextual. It unfolds in time (Derrida, Heidegger, Bruner) and Westerners have great narratival plans for their lives (Sonoda), whereas Japanese hardly make future plans at all. Westerners are contextual in time!

It is not that Asians are more contextual, it is simply that the dimension in which the self unfolds is different. Japanese are contextual according to the spaces in which they appear, and invariant in the temporal media which is invisible, Westerners are contextual according to the time in their self narrative that they are enacting, but invariant in the un-narrated, and ignored (Masuda) background to their narrative.

These modal difference result in other qualitative differences of course. Japanese can, to a larger extent choose the context in which they exist. Westerners devise their plot-line, but march to the beat of time. 

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Abe and the Medallists

Prime minister Shinzo Abe met with the Japanese Olympic medallists and said fatuous things. This is typical of Japanese politicians. Japanese prime ministers often meet with medallists to have their photographs taken. More surprisingly, when campaigning for office Japanese politicians often say things like "thank you" "please vote for me" "I will try" as opposed to policies, a lot of the time, because the point of these speech acts its to show themselves out on the road speaking. The point of the event pictured above was the photo -- of Abe merging with palpable success personified in the four runners -- that Abe posed for, not the "begging" or "melodrama" that came from his mouth. The fatuous aspirations and requests were merely the context for the photographic main event. In Japan "context" (Hall, 1959) and focus are reversed. Image above a Google image thumbnail search devised to show mainly Abe with medallists. http://flic.kr/p/KyyrAy

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, August 22, 2016


Augmented Irreality: World of Light

World of Light

Japanese children paint cars, trucks, aircraft, including UFOs that then scanned into, and bounce or fly along in, a giant musical city scape traffic jam mural, with which the children can interact. The vehicles are ticklish to the tap. The Japanese children, including my own, go wild because they too are one with the fish: images come to life. Esse est percepi. Video ergo sum.

Before going home the children can have their pictures scanned into onto 3D paper model that they can fold into toy. Their pictures become alive and dwell amongst us.

My video explanation is here

and the production company's explanation is here.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, August 19, 2016


Gold Spit?

Gold Spit?

No, the name of this Japanese bean paste confectionery does not mean "Gold Spit" but rather means "gold cross guard (of a sword)." The Japanese word for cross guard (of a sword) is rare, so the pun may be deliberate and the misunderstanding, even among its Japanese consumers common. The Japanese have a bit of an affinity for grotesque sounding foodstuffs, such as 'shichocolate' (unchoco) and the more direct 'turd gums' (unchi gum).

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 12, 2016


Eyes or the Law

Eyes or the Law
There is quite a lot of research to show that Westerners become pro-social (nicer, more moral) when they are faced with drawings of eyes (Bateson, Nettle, & Roberts, 2006; Francey & Bergmüller, 2012; Haley & Fessler, 2005). Westerners cooperate more (Bateson, Nettle, & Roberts, 2006), pick up litter more (Francey & Bergmüller, 2012), and are more generous in "dictator games" (Haley & Fessler, 2005).

Since my shtick is that the Japanese are always watching themselves, or that in Japan the kind old sun is always watching, I had anticipated a cultural difference in the extent to which pictures of eyes would motivate the Japanese to be prosocial.

First of all I have noted that posters encouraging the Japanese to be prosocial (don't steal, litter, block the doors) often feature eyes, so that is one notch against my theory.

However, reviewing the literature on the effect of eyes on Japanese behaviour, the results are ambivalent.

Kitayama, Snibbe, Markus, & Suzuki, (2004) found that Japanese showed the mere exposure effect, enhancing the value of their own possessions, only in the presence of pictures of eyes. This is noteworthy in that the prosocial norm would be to be humble and efface ones possessions in the presence of others' gaze. I hypothesized that eyes encourage Japanese to evaluate themselves, and that since they show visual self-enhancement, the eyes encouraged them to self-enhance. In other words, the eyes in the poster were felt to be the subject's own eyes rather than the eyes of others.

More recent research (三船 & 山岸, 2015; 三船, 橋本, & 山岸, 2008) found that Japanese favoured an ingroup (a group to which they belong) rather than an outgroup when faced with a diagram of eyes. Without the eyes the Japanese subjects were, if anything, more generous to strangers. The eyes, or at least the Kabuki ones hardly seem to have increased overall average generosity and ingroup favouritism can hardly be described as prosocial. On the contrary nepotism is something that one might expect Westerners to avoid when faced with the gaze of others.

Finally a study published last year (阿部 & 藤井, 2015) attempted to use posters with eyes to encourage Japanese to park their bicycles in the right place. The research had a result but only with the first (left) of the three posters shown above. All three posters have pictures of eyes but only the first poster has a large central pair of ideograms (highlighted by me in red) saying "ILLEGAL." Could it be this rather than the eyes that encouraged those near the first poster to park their bicycles more diligently.

As I argued in respect of Ma Kellam's research (Ma-Kellams & Blascovich, 2013) which found that in a multi-ethnic group, thinking about science made subjects more moral might be due to non-WEIRD subjects being encouraged to think in a more sciencey, category or law bound, way, like the left most "ILLEGAL!" poster above.

So perhaps, mirrors and eyes are to Westerners, what science and the law are to the Japanese. And that is why, even more than posters with eyes, Japan is covered public sooths (標語, see Nakajima, 1999), telling them to buckle up, drive safely, and greet each other. These sooths probably really have an effect! They get the Japanese to appraise themselves linguistically, which is something that the Japanese do not usually do (Kim, 2002).

Francey, D., & Bergmüller, R. (2012). Images of Eyes Enhance Investments in a Real-Life Public Good. PLoS ONE, 7(5), e37397. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0037397
Haley, K. J., & Fessler, D. M. . (2005). Nobody’s watching?: Subtle cues affect generosity in an anonymous economic game. Evolution and Human Behavior, 26(3), 245–256. Retrieved from www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1090513805000036
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 https://labs.psych.ucsb.edu/kim/heejung/kim_2002.pdf
Ma-Kellams, C., & Blascovich, J. (2013). Does ‘Science’ Make You Moral? The Effects of Priming Science on Moral Judgments and Behavior. PLoS ONE, 8(3), e57989. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0057989
Nakajima, Y. 中島, 義道. (1999). うるさい日本の私. 新潮社.
Bateson, M., Nettle, D., & Roberts, G. (2006). Cues of being watched enhance cooperation in a real-world setting. Biology Letters, 2(3), 412–414. Retrieved from rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/2/3/412.short
Kitayama, S., Snibbe, A. C., Markus, H. R., & Suzuki, T. (2004). Is There Any ‘Free’ Choice? Psychological Science, 15(8), 527.
三船恒裕, & 山岸俊男. (2015). 内集団ひいきと評価不安傾向との関連. 社会心理学研究, 31(2), 128–134. doi.org/10.14966/jssp.31.2_128
三船恒裕, 橋本博文, & 山岸俊男. (2008). 内集団への利他行動に対する「目」の効果. Presented at the 日本社会心理学会第49回大会, かごしま県民交流センター.
阿部正太朗, & 藤井聡. (2015). 他者の監視を想起させる「目」の絵を用いたポスターによる放置駐輪抑制効果の検証. 都市計画論文集, 50(1), 37–45. doi.org/10.11361/journalcpij.50.37

Labels: , , ,


The Authenticopiable and the Unique

The Authenticopiable and the Unique
Many Japanese castles, such as those in Oosaka and Nagoya are, like the "foreign villages" (gaikokumura) scattered around Japan, scale models, replicas or fakes, made out of concrete, not the real ting at all, to the Western whispering mind. To the Japanese if they look the same they are the same. The Japanese are going to collect the unique words as stamps. This guide book to the 100 famouse ("named-") castles of Japan contains an "official" stamp collection book. An example of a stamp is shown in red bottom right. To us the situation is reversed: words are the same whereever they are said, but views are unique so we go to see them. How can the world be so inverted?

Each construal depends simply upon whether from out of that cave or 'crypt' of the mind (Abrahama & Torok, 2005), one is looking or listening with 'mother.' For the Japanese the collectable names are on the outside of the head. There is no Other (Lacan, Mori, 1999, p.163) to authenticate them.

Abraham, N., & Torok, M. (2005). The wolf man's magic word: A cryptonymy (Vol. 37). U of Minnesota Press.
Mori, A. 森有正. (1999). 森有正エッセー集成〈5〉. 筑摩書房. See here with quote.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


The Evil has Landed: Atarimae, Positive Psychology and Judo Bronze Medals

The Evil has Landed: Atarimae, Positive Psychology and Judo Bronze Medals

Japanese post match interviews are to cry for. Of her bronze medal Ami Kondou said, "I guess my parents will say 'well done,' (and for that I'm grateful) but I just feel regret." The judoka pictured above said the traditional, "I feel full of gratitude to all those that made my achievement possible," while clearly feeling other emotions, such as regret, at the same time.

However, while each individual judouka's emotions seem to be similar to those in previous years, several of them are voicing statements which, coming from judoka, are new to my ears.

Specifically, several Japanese Olympic judoka have mentioned that they "should have won (gold)" (勝って当たり前). Ami Kondou said that bearing in mind the large numbers of Japanese judoka, she "should have won." Even Shouhei Oono, who did in fact win gold mentioned, this phrase four times, but as the words of others, not thoughts of his own. Perhaps that is how he managed to break the curse (see below).

"I heard it said, from those around me, that "I should win gold. (Today) I reconfirmed the fact that it is difficult achieve that which one 'should achieve'." "周りの声、金メダルを獲得して当たり前という声が聞こえていた。当たり前のことを、当たり前にやる難しさを改めて感じた。(Kyoudou)(Youtube Video in Japanese)."

Other commentators have noted that this teams inability to be pleased at receiving bronze medals, together with the high number of bronze medals suggests that the team need to be freed from some sort of curse.

I agree. I fear that one or some of the Judo team coaches have been reading "positive psychology" (or Western whispering arrogance) books, and have been persuaded that telling yourself that you "should win" / "must win" will increase confidence, for the win.

As argued by cultural psychologists such as Steven Heine (Heine, Lehman, Markus, & Kitayama, 1999), this Mohammed Ali style self-praising, ego-boost is by no means a Japanese tradition. Cultural psychologists will tell you that Japanese are instead self-critical, and by focusing on their mistakes and errors (hansei) they go on to remove and improve themselves (kaizen). Certainly there is this aspect to Japanese psychology. Rather than telling themselves that they "should win" the Japanese Judo team should have maintained the challenger spirit that helps to drive Toyotistic cycles of Japanese self-improvement.

For example, the coach of the world beating Japanese women's soccer team showed a video of the Fukushima Disaster on the eve of their final match. Nothing could have been more convincing of their own weakness: anyone can lose everything. That coach, Asako Toyokura, is a genius.

It is not all deprecation, self-sour-grapes, in the Japanese psyche. As argued on this blog, the Japanese indulge in positive visual psychology. The late great Sumo Wrestler, Chiyonofuji, who died 11 days ago RIP, said in a television interview when asked how he recovered from injury, "I imagine myself winning and that there are a lot of girls cheering in the audience." This J-narcissism, rather than the collectivist expectation of gratitude alone, drives the amazing Japanese ability to self-criticise and improve.

The drawbacks to telling oneself we should win must win are not only that it puts a spanner in the Japanese self-improvement cycle. Linguistic self-praise which seems to take place both inside the heart and head, is particularly evil. Mohammed Ali knew, and was not arrogant at home. Whispering praises to oneself linguistically, one can become completely unaware of the need for others, such as "the girls cheering in the audience." As a consequence one can believe ones self-praise completely, as some sort of objective truth, WE MUST WIN, wipe other species (Kashima & Bain, 2016), and in the extreme, wipe out other humans.

Heine, S., Lehman, D., Markus, H., & Kitayama, S. (1999). Is there a universal need for positive self-regard?. Psychological Review. Retrieved from http://humancond.org/_media/papers/heine99_universal_positive_regard.pdf
Kashima, Y & Bain, P. (2016, August, 3) "On Cultural Conceptions of Human-Nature Relationship." International Association of Cross Cultural Psychology Conference. WINC Conference Center, Nagoya, Japan.

Labels: , , , , ,


Invaded by Burgers: Kura Sushi

Kura Sushi Invaded by Burgers
Kura Sushi (or "Kula Sushi" in the US) is a chain of superb "revolving Sushi" restaurants. in addition to the sushi which revolves tantilizingly around the store, one can also order sushi to be delivered automatically to ones table via a computer and conveyor belt: a drone sushi shinkansen. At 100 yen for two pieces of sushi, and 150 yen for a bowl of soup, Kura Sushi is truly amazing value for money. The fish used in Kura Sushi tastes very fresh, perhaps due to the high turnover. Kura Sushi is very popular. The above image shows bean curd (miso) soup with shellfish (asari) and seared bonito sushi.

Map of Kura sushi branches is Japan. If you zoom into an area the Goole map should show the Kura sushi branches in that area. There are also 11 branches in the USA and four in Taiwan. The Japanese language list of Kura Sushi branches worldwide is here. The English language website of "Kula Sushi" branches in the USA is here.

It is upsetting to me, however, how Kura Sushi are attempting to foist curry burgers on their clientelle, using the face of a traditional Japanese actor (inset bottom centre, face removed). Unhealthy curry burgers probably have a higher profit margin than deliscious, fresh, healthy Kura sushi. Please repent, Kura Sushi! Kura sushi is wonderful, but burgers will maim and kill the clients.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 09, 2016


Japanese Deities and Japanese Minds

Japanese Deities and Japanese

Is the mind of a robot, dog, or God something that (1) experiences pleasure and pain, and or (2) has agency in the sense of having the ability to 'think and plan'? Western respondents situated the abilities of their own other minds as shown in the image (adapted from Wegner and Gray, 2016, p7) above.

At the recent International Association of Cross Cultural Psychology conference in Nagoya, professor Yoshihisa Kashima introduced research (Kashima & Bain, 2016) using criterion for mind similar to that of Wegner and Gray (2016).

It seems to me however, that the Japanese see mind in a different way. The Japanese are famous for not planning but reacting to their environment so I think that that they would rate their own minds, according to these criterion, somewhere near the mind of the Western girl (see blue Ninja in the diagram above, added by me). Japanese deities are perhaps 'pure experience' (Nishida, 1992; see shrine gate and mirror icon added top-left by me), only acting when asked**. Japanese deities do not try to interfere, but watch over and protect the Japanese. Their protection is intentional but this intentionality is reactional, and not planned. The 'divine wind' that was felt to protect the Japanese from Mongol invasion was reciprocal to the launch of the Mongol invasion fleet. The watching and protecting (mimamoru) deities have no intrinsic intention to sink ships, but at the same time the ship sinking was quite deliberate.

Planning, future-intent, agency and analytic thought are things that occur when humans are unhappy. Humans whisper to themselves about a better future that they would like to get. The Japanese, being a happy lot, do such analytic thinking a lot less often. The Japanese use their minds, which are at one with their bodies (Yuasa & Kasulis, 1987) for other things.

In particular the Japanese minds use their "mirror neurons" to attend to the behaviour and bodies of themselves (Takemoto, 2012; Hino, 2016) and others. Japanese thinking and agency is typified by a form of visual, atemporal yet spatio-intentional visual attention and intervention, expressed by such words as "omoiyari" (do-thinking, where think, omou, takes a visual object), "kikubari," (share out spirit) "mekubari" (share out one's eyes), and "kitsukai," (use ones spirit). As a group these modes of Japanese thought might be termed 'proactive sympathy'.

Had the Japanese been asked the ability of other minds to perform proactive sympathy, animals may be ranked right up there near the Japanese. If the Japanese had any knowledge of Western minds then, alas, they might rate our ability to perform proactive sympathy somewhere near the level of the "dead woman"* (see image above). All our whispering to ourselves has made us blind.

*It is apt that the diagram above includes the mind of a "dead woman" in view of the fact that the Western mind is inhabited by a dead woman (Abraham & Torok, 2005; Derrida, 2005).

**This is not entirely true. Some Japanese deities intentions in the sense of teleological propensities. Aragami, or wild spirits, such as Susano no Mikoto, do act bringing about calamity unless they are appeased and pacified. Japanese leave rice and rice wine at their shrines. Since Yahweh is felt to be pure intent, and encourages His followers to sacrifice not rice or sake, but themselves, is He the ultimate 'wild spirit'?

Abraham, N., & Torok, M. (2005). The wolf man's magic word: A cryptonymy (Vol. 37). U of Minnesota Press.
Derrida, J. (2005). Foreward to The wolf man's magic word: A cryptonymy (Vol. 37). by Abraham, N., & Torok, M. U of Minnesota Press.
Kashima, Y & Bain, P. (2016, August, 3) "On Cultural Conceptions of Human-Nature Relationship." International Association of Cross Cultural Psychology Conference. WINC Conference Center, Nagoya, Japan.
Nishida, K., Abe, M., & Ives, C. (1992). An inquiry into the good. Yale University Press
Takemoto, T. (2002). 鏡の前の日本人. In 選書メチエ編集部, ニッポンは面白いか (講談社選書メチエ. 講談社.
Wegner, D. M., & Gray, K. (2016). The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters. Viking.
Yuasa, Yasuo, and Thomas P. Kasulis. The body: Toward an Eastern mind-body theory. Suny Press, 1987.
Hino, A. 日野晃. (2016). 新世紀身体操作論【考えるな、体にきけ! 】本来誰もに備わっている“衰えない力"の作り方! BABジャパン.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, July 29, 2016


The Sound Princess: Japanese Veil

Sound Princess Again: Oto Hime
The sound princes or oto-hime is a device for hiding the sound of ones excretions, which emits the sound of running water. It is made by the Japanese manufacturer Toto. Usually only available in women's toilets (hence my inability to take this photo so far) this one was in the disabled persons toilet. The sound continues, it says, for 25 seconds during which time the user would hope to finish their 'ablutions,' which, disguised by the sounds of running water emitted from this device might not have existed at all.

Since the beginning of time, according to Japanese mythology, the Japanese have endeavoured to hide the desire, sexuality, and nature of women so as to raise the feminine (or castrated feminine) to the level of 'social principle' (Kawai, 1982) or role model.

An as a result all the Japanese to a man, aspire to be a nice kind harmonious watashi a first person pronoun used by men and women, originally only indicating, the woman.

To this day the desire, sexuality, and nature of women is so taboo, so off limits, in Japan that Japanese women: read pornography only about men having sex with men; do not use tampons, use toilets hidden further than those of the gents, laugh behind their hands, wrap themselves in layers layers and of underwear, never suffer from flatulence, almost only use the back-channel in mixed-sex conversation, only moan "no," and use electronic sound-emission devices, such as that shown above to disguise and hide the terrible tinkle or splash.

And I mean terrible. When Japanese women show their true nature, they can often wither Japanese men with a glance.

The noise of the sound princess, and many of the other important meaningless noises emitted by Japanese culture (politician's crooning, sports-persons' shouts, Buddhist chants, pachinko cacophony, mid-day and evening come home Tannoy's, supermarket endless tapes, and New Year's temple bells) may have structural similarities with the Biblical fig leaf and the veil. The sound of the sound princess is a audio cover of female desire, as opposed to a visual cover of male desire.

Click here for YouTube Videos with the sound of the sound princess.

Kawai, H. 河合隼雄. (1982). 中空構造日本の深層. 中央公論社.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, July 28, 2016


Coffee Vending Machine Food Preparatation Views

Coffee Vending Machine Food Preparation Views
Just as Japanese ramen restaurants, sushi restaurants, and in the extreme fireside grill (robatayaki) restaurants provide their clean freak, and I argue, scopophilic Japanese clientèle with the opportunity to see their food being prepared, so it is with some Japanese coffee vending machines. The coffee vending machine shown above, equipped with several internal cameras, provides purchasers with a video of their coffee being made (centre top). I should have taken a video of the inspiring internal video.

There is always the possibility that the machine is in fact making coffee using instant coffee powder, and showing everyone the same entertainment video but, even if this were not in Japan, the raw, slightly out of focus, steamy nature of the video made me trust the internal view it provided completely and the coffee taste just a little bit fresher.

Visual information augments, and even overwhelms, that obtained by the nose and the mouth. I hypothesise that even if the machine were indeed really using Nescafe and just showing a fake video, I would be fooled into thinking that the beans were ground and the coffee dripped.

Labels: , ,


Shinkansen Bullet Train Urinals

Bullet Train Urinals
Bullet Train Urinals do not have locks. In place of locks bullet train urinals have windows which allow those outside to see if there is someone using the urinal or not. As a senior British male I find it a little uncomfortable to be seen while urinating, and still more for my being seen to be the only thing that prevents people from opening the door while I am urinating - not that anyone would barge in.

Ideally I would like to be able to emerge from a toilette (Americans are so uptight they have to call them "restrooms") secure in the knowledge that those outside in the corridor do not know what I have been doing in the toilet (washing my hands, or even "resting"). In the case of a urinal cubicle, this practically impossible, but the addition of the window and the lack of the lock makes me feel like I have just urinated en plein air. Urinating outside is something that Japanese men did not feel uncomfortable doing as recently as 20 years ago even in groups.

These days it is only young Japanese boys that urinate outside in groups. Using a Bullet Train urinal makes me feel an age younger than with which I feel comfortable. I respect Japanese men for the their lack of prudery. I note however, that Japanese women are so sensitive that not only would it be utterly unaccepted for them to be seen whilst urinating (kami forbid) but Japanese women use electronic devices (otohime) so that they can not even heard urinating. Japanese women can emerge from toilette cubicles in that ideal situation: no one can be sure of what they have been doing.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Magearna is Reason and Eve

Many Japanese animated movies are meditations on the problem of science and the West, and attempt to present solutions as to how the Japanese - as represented by Satoshi, the boy with an "electric rat" and a woman's voice - can save the world.

The latest movie (Pokémon the Movie XY&Z: Volcanion and the Mechanical Magearna) from the Pokémon franchise, written by Atsuhiro Tomioka the same writer as the last, replaces Hooper and mini Hooper with Volcanion and Magearna. Volcanion, like Hooper, has a hoop, and is a bit too strong for his and his surroundings' good.

the Exquisite Magearna is the first robotic Pokémon built by the those blue eyed, blonde, science fanatics -- Westerners -- that often feature in Japanese animations. Magearna has a metal body, crucifixes for pupils, and a sciency cog-bonnet. Apart from having her own shell-like monster ball, into which she retreats when she is afraid, and the ability to produce bunches of flowers from her hands that put others (other than Volcanion) into a romantic mood, she does not do much other be "ezquisite." But she has great power.

The reason for this is related to her removalable "soul heart," which seems to be the very core of science. This heart soul is also said, in the catch copy for the movie*, in contradistinction to almost all other Pokémon, to have a voice.

For my money, Magearna is the linguistic Other who whispers in the hearts of Western "men". Sometimes as listener she is called Reason, by Jefferson and Dawkins, and shown the greatest respect.

"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion (Jefferson see Dawkins, 2008, p64)

But her first name was I think Eve, the first in a long line of Western "robotic" pocket monsters. She is robotic in so far as she is linguistic. She doesn't just bond, and sit on the shoulder of her trainers and friends but alas, whispers to them, in romantic voice of her soul heart. She is the Sibyl that Heraclitus writes of.

Her name in Japanese is a pun on "bent hole," but I am not sure if that is any way intentional

This Pokémon movie reached the conclusion that Volcanion should sacrifice himself to save her, and that she should be taken from the land of the blonde blue eyed men and returned to the wild.

I thought Jarvis, the lead scientist and baddie (who is nonetheless forgiven as Japanese baddies always are) a little similar to David Bowie.

I would like to see or write a sequel where it is found that there is a real living pockemon trapped inside Magearna, who is at last released.

*熱き魂(ソウルハート)の声が聞こえるか!? Can you hear the voice of the 'hot soul heart'!?

Why are Pokémon movies and David Bowie better at explaing reality than science? The advance of science may be moved and supported by converse with an artificial monster far more terrible than that pictured above in her imagined Pokémon GO debut.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


The Chinese and The Japanese

The Chinese and The Japanese
Ruth Benedic's (1946) classic "Chrysanthemum and the Sword" has been popular in China (translated as 菊与刀) selling 70,000 copies in 2005 alone, since it would provide an explanation how the Japanese managed to kill so many Chinese and yet exhibit a level of remorse that the Chinese feel to be very inappropriate. Ruth Benedict's answer is that the Japanese lack a conscience, caring only what other's think about them. A great deal of Japanese believe this theory, which itself originates in a disgruntled Japanese called Robert Hashimoto (Lummis).

More contemporary Japanese detractors of Benedict's theory do not rarely argue that the Japanese do in fact have conscience, under the conventional meaning of that term, but rather that "conscience" in the sense of internal, self-directed, self-reproval simply does not exist. The main reason for this is that they are aware that they judge themselves visio-aesthetically, and this is not something that one can do from inside ones own head. The Japanese forget that the mind is not inside the head -- it is easy to do, I have -- but rather the other way around.

The Japanese are therefore in large part blissfully ignorant of the origin of their own morality, which is, the same as that of the Chinese. Both believe that in addition to the censure of other people, heaven is also judging.

In Japanese parlance the kind old sun is watching (otentou sama ga mite iru. お天道さまがみている。See e.g. Akagawa, 2015) and they'd feel her displeasure should they do anything bad.

This does not explain why the Japanese were able to kill so many Chinese, nor why they do not feel more remorse. In order to understand that one would have to read other books, mainly of a more historical nature.

I hope that the Chinese realise that in fact the Japanese do have a conscience before The Chinese and The Japanese come to blows again.

The images above left are the result of an image search for "”菊与刀” 销量" meaning "sales of 'Chrysanthemum and the Sword'" in Chinese, and the cover of a non-academic book entitled "The Kind Old Sun is Watching" (Akagawa, 2015)

Akagawa, J. 赤川浄友. (2015). お天道さまは見ている. 国書刊行会.
Benedict, R. (1946). The chrysanthemum and the sword; patterns of Japanese culture.

Labels: , , , , ,


"I am, Because you are"

"I am, because you are"
The sign reads "I am, because you are" or "You are, so I am," which is the philosophy of interdependence (Markus & Kitayama, 1981), or ubuntu, in a nutshell.

Note however that this Japanese interdependence is in the world of speech. The second line reads, "Lets hail each other, and thereby, together do our best." This the above is a slogan encouraging greetings such as "good morning" and "g'day" which the Japanese favour even more than Crocodile Dundee. In the world of language, the Japanese subject, their "I" is "you for you" (Mori, 1999, p.163 complete quote again below).

The interdependence of the Japanese visual self is a little more nuanced. The visual self-encourages and requires an awareness of the social nature of self, and interdependence due to the scopic necessity of focusing upon a surface. This ostensible 'externality' convinces even the Japanese that they are out and out collectivists.

But in the Japanese case, they also believe that the 'the kind old sun is always watching' (See e.g. Akagawa, 2015). Their belief gives them a good measure of independence, and Morality with a capital M. Even if 'everyone else is doing it', the Japanese avoid doing things that look bad because the kind old sun can see them, and they'd feel her displeasure should they do ugly things.

Akagawa, J. 赤川浄友. (2015). お天道さまは見ている. 国書刊行会.
Mori, A. 森有正. (1999). 森有正エッセー集成〈5〉. 筑摩書房.
扨(さ)て私は、「日本人」において「経験」は複数を、更に端的に二人の人間(あるいはその関係)を定義する、と言った。それは一体何を意味しているのであろうか。二人の人間を定義するということは、我々(日本人)の経験と呼ぶものが、自分一個の経験にまで分析されていない、ということである。換言すれば、凡ての経験において、それをもつ主体がどうしても「自己」というものを定義しない、ということである。肉体的に見る限り、一人一人の人間は離れている。常識的にはそこに一人の主題、すなわち自己というものを考えようとする思惑を感ずるが、事態はそのように簡単ではない。それは我々において、「汝」との関係がどれほど深刻であるかを考えてみればある程度納得が行くであろう。もちろん「汝」ということは、日本人のみならず、凡ゆる人間にとって問題となる。要はその問題のなり方である。本質的な点だけに限っていうと、「日本人」においては、「汝」に対立するのは「我」ではないということ、対立するものもまた相手にとっての「汝」なのだ、ということである。私はけして言葉の綾をもてあそんでいるのではない。それは本質的なことなのである。「我と汝」ということが自明のことのように、ある場合には凡ての前提となる合言葉のおうに言われるが、それはこの場合当て嵌まらない。親子の場合をとってみると、親を「汝」として取ると、子が「我」であるのは自明のことのように主和得る。しかしそれはそうではない。子は自分の中に存在の根拠をもつ「我」でなく、当面「汝」である親の「汝」として自分を経験しているのである。Mori, 1999. p.163

Labels: , , , ,

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