Friday, June 22, 2012
Virtual Tourism, Reality and Wrapping
Amida Temple Aio Futajima Temple (top left) provides one example of the Japanese virtual tour. Here at Amida Temple, the enterprising owner has brought earth from the sites of 88 other temples in the local village (Aio Futajima) pilgrimage route, which itself is a copy of the famous 88 temple pilgrimage route: the Shikoku Henro (Reader, 2005). Those who do not have the weeks required to walk around Shikoku Island can walk around Aio in a day or two. Those who do not have a couple of days to walk around Aio Futajima can come to this one temple. These temples, such as Lakan Temple in Tokyo, were the first foreign village tourist attractions (Gaikoku Mura) (Hendry, 2000) such as Nagasaki's Huis Ten Bosch or Parque Espana, that allowed the convenience loving Japanese to experience the far away and foreign in one place near to home.
Varieties of [Virtual] Tourism, Reality and Hymen, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
Varieties of [Virtual] Tourism, Reality and Hymen, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
Those that can do not have the time to come to this one temple can enjoy a virtual tour via a map, especially a traditional Japanese map which provides a bird's eye view, and those that do not have the mental age to figure their way around a real map (Imao, 2005; see image right), even a Japanese birds eye view map (see image right), can play a game of "Sugoroku" (image bottom left), which is a Japanese board game, a little like snakes and ladders, played on a simplified map: virtual tourism for all the family.
When you are as good at imagining things as the Japanese, when you see a world that is visual, when you see the light, where perhaps the "Madness of the Day" (Blanchot, 1995) is rather a normal frame of mind, then you do not travel to *see* things at all. You can visit copies, watch pictures, imagine them and dream of them even with other people (Nenzi, 2008, p189) . When the Japanese travel, it is for the authenticity of the icons that they can receive there. Conversely believing them to be perfectly copied in human and minds (and the omnipresent mind of the logo-god) Westerners would never travel for signs. Does anyone reading this description of Japanese culture feel like they are travelling? While western tourists go to Gaze (Urry, 2002), the Japanese co to have signs indicated to them. Conversely if the gaze is important to the Japanese tourist at all it is autoscopically, via photography taken of themselves (kine shashin) and if signs are important to Western tourists it is primarily there ability to narrate themselves at the site, auto-semiotically, self narratival in the post-cards (Derrida, 1987) and or, which is, their self-narrative.
This difference in tourism preference, for Western gazing and Japanese icon (or 'stamp,' or fuda) collecting reflects a different world view. For Westerners the world is a dark, "The-Matrix" like world of the things-in-themselves, Konigsbergian (Nietzche, 2007), and robotic (Beaton, 2005). For Japanese the real world is the visual world, the tain of the mental mirror (Nishida 1988; Heisig, 2010).
The difference in tourism also reflects a different view of the stuff, the fluff, that, spreads out the real world, allows for the private other distinction, and moves about, the stuff that needs to be exchanged and brought back.
For Westerners it is the image that stands between ourselves and the world as word. The image is but a boundary, "hymen," or wrapping. On the one hand, the image is a wispy neurological effervescence - qualia -, on the other it is like coat of ever so thin paint. By covering the real world the image promises that the real world is out there. It is a reflection of the real world that we must travel to see. The image is the pseudo-event (Boorstin, 1992) that promises us that there is something called reality (Baudrillard, 1995).
But Baudrillard (1995) is wrong to think that this separating function -- Derrida's grapheme, pharmakon, or hymen (Derrida, 1998), wrapping (Hendry) -- is universally enacted by the image.
In Japan it is the symbol that provides the same division. It is the symbol that separates and allows a view of the world to be, at the same time private belonging to a certain person with a certain name, and at the same time the world itself. It is the symbol that Japanese travel to receive, to allow us to conceive the images that are the world, including images that at 'ruins of identity' (Hudson, 1999) have long since become invisible.
The Western "world" is like a steel framed building covered in reflective glass. The Japanese world is a tapestry pinned down and out by name-places (meisho).
The beautiful Amadia Temple is behind Yoshimatsu Store, which is opposite Futajima Primary School, Yamaguchi City. There are so many stone Buddhas that the temple feels crowed and that one is being watched. I recommend going in the early evening when the setting sun makes the statues glow. You may see the light!
Baudrillard, J. (1995). Simulcra and Simulation. (S. F. Glaser, Trans.). Univ of Michigan Pr.
Beaton, M. (2005). What RoboDennett still doesn’t know. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 12(12), 3–25.
Blanchot, M. (1995). The Madness of the Day. Station Hill Pr.
Boorstin, D. J., & Will, G. F. (1992). The image: A guide to pseudo-events in America. Vintage Books New York.
Derrida, J. (1987). The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. (A. Bass, Trans.) (First ed.). University Of Chicago Press.
Derrida, J. (1998). Of grammatology. (G. C. Spivak, Trans.). JHU Press.
Heisig, J. W. (2010). Nishida’s Deodorized Basho and the Scent of Zeami’s Flower. Frontiers of Japanese Philosophy 7: Classical Japanese Philosophy (p. 247–73). Nagoya: Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture. Retrieved from nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/staff/jheisig/pdf/Nishida%20and%20Zea...
Hendry, J. (2000). Foreign Country Theme Parks: A New Theme or an Old Japanese Pattern? Social Science Japan Journal, 3(2), 207–220. doi:10.1093/ssjj/3.2.207
Hendry, Joy. (2012). Understanding Japanese Society (4th ed.). Routledge.
Hudson, M. (1999). Ruins of identity: ethnogenesis in the Japanese Islands. University of Hawaii Press.
Imao, K. 今尾恵介. (2005). 日本地図のたのしみ. 角川学芸出版.
Nenzi, L. N. D. (2008). Excursions in identity: travel and the intersection of place, gender, and status in Edo Japan. University of Hawaii Press.
Nietzsche, F. (2007). Twilight of the Idols. Wordsworth Classics.
Nishida, K. 西田幾多郎. (1988). 西田幾多郎哲学論集〈2〉論理と生命 他4篇. 岩波書店.
Reader, I. (2005). Making pilgrimages: Meaning and practice in Shikoku. University of Hawaii Press.
Urry, J. (2002). The Tourist Gaze. SAGE.
The idea behind this post was...I have mumbled a lot about how tourism practices suggest that Westerners and Japanese have different views of reality, but (after reading some Baudrillard) here I wanted to focus on the areality, the accursed share, the ghostly, sacrificial, supplemental, 'wrapping' of each culture. Philosophers East and West, Nishida and Dennet, can go on and on about their views of the reality of the world (as idea, or as place/space) but Frenchies like Derrida and Lacan, talk about the remainder, the other (in each case, the centre of the other) which is far more interesting, playful, sexier. The Frenchies teach us us that the other in their culture is in fact pivotal, necessary, transforming (henshin). I wish I were French!
Though they don't believe in Kant (great pun there) the Japanese love to collect signs. Though they don't believe in images, Westerners love to go and see them.The other of each culture is fun.
I think that deep down I would like people like Hendry to read my blog in awe:-) Of course my blog is almost definitely rhubarb and even if it were not, the chances of Prof Hendry happening this way are next to zero but, I feel that I would like her to read the above and realise that her wrapping, her use of the word "wrapping" (what?!) betrays incalcitrant Englishness. Professional, famed anthropologist that she is, living in Japan as she did, she failed to notice (save for a jibe at Barthes) that the Japanese world is inside out. How could you fail to notice Joy? Ha! Gosh I am such a loser:-) Or I wish that someone would be impressed. Or perhaps I want to practice my English? I only speak English on this blog.
Overtly, I am hoping that, when I have written 400 blog posts, that I translate them into Japanese, and sell my blog as a Japanese language book.
Labels: authenticopy, autoscopy, japanese culture, 日本文化, 自己視
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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.