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, May 27, 2012


Where Ancestors Watch and Protect

Where Ancestors Watch and Protect by timtak
Where Ancestors Watch and Protect, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
The Japanese say that ancestors, their grandparents for instance, watch and protect (mi-mamoru) them after their death. Cycling through this landscape with, as it where, ghosts in the hills, I feel like I am riding through a Meisho Zue, one of those map-like showing where all the "named places" (meisho) are. The combined effect of (1) feeling like one is being watched, and (2) that there are names in them there hills, pins out "the mirror" onto the landscape and makes me feel like a super mario of sorts, am riding inside the floating world, or a video game.

The names in the hills (like those signs that popup out of the landscape in video games) and the 'watching and protecting' eyes in the hills, have the same effect; they cast (as one casts a net), spread (as one spreads a sheet), or wrap (Hendry) the "mental mirror" out into a into a visual world.

The way in which located names function like a self-directed gaze relates also to the way in which Japanese tourists collect two different things at tourism destinations. Either they collect an auto-scopic, self-directed gaze in the from of a "Kinen shashin" or they collect a 'concrete name' in the form of a stamp at a stamp rally, stamped-sacred card (Shinpu, ofuda, omamori,) at a shrine, stamped scroll in a pilgrimage, or a souvenir "named-thing" (meibutsu), in the form of a represtative food or product of that region. Ideally they collect both.

The duality of name and self directed gaze is the same as that just mentioned with respect to the post card. The post card provides its purchaser, Mary (Jackson), with a self directed ear (the recipient of the postcard and the senders "super-adressee," Other, "generalised other") and with a sight that she find there. "Ah, so this is the red, or Frenchiness that I have heard about it." This expands the world of science, the words, out of books and spreads them out into the world.

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