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

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Looking at Mirrors

Doing Makeup on Trains
This photograph shows a Japanese lady whow was doing her makeup on a Japanese train.

This is a suprising phenomina for me because in the UK, people would be embarrassed to look at a mirror in a public place.
There are posters encouraging Japanese ladies to do their makeup at home. Nonetheless the behaviour seems more prevalent here, and in the past women looking at mirrors was a popular subject of floating world pictures (ukiyoe).
In the West, looking at a mirror is thought to be vain, and often associated with evil. The with in the Seven Dwarves was always looking into her mirror. Medusa was killed by a mirror. And when, in the play "Pygmallion" (Later to become the film "My Fair Lady" starring Audrey Hepburn) by George Bernard Shaw, the central character, Liza, finds a mirror in Higgins' bathroom she says
HIGGINS. I'm glad the bath-room met with your approval. (I am glad you liked the bathroom)
LIZA. It didn't: not all of it; and I don't care who hears me say it. Mrs. Pearce knows.
HIGGINS. What was wrong, Mrs. Pearce?
MRS. PEARCE. Oh, nothing, sir. It doesn't matter.
LIZA. I had a good mind to break it. I didn't know which way to look. But I hung a towel over it, I did.
HIGGINS. Over what?
MRS. PEARCE. Over the looking-glass, sir.
Liza finds the looking glass quite immoral even in private, but Japanese ladies do not mind using them on trains.

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