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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Zombies to Each Other

Zombies to Each Other
I believe in the possibility of a zombie apocalypse and wish to prevent it. I believe that zombies are, or at least appear to be, evil. I believe zombies come in at least two varieties, and that there are cultures that are zombies to each other.

What are zombies, apart from bad? Zombies are people that are mindless.

As the great (as yet untranslated) work by Nakajima argues, the Japanese are, from a Western, Kantian, point of mindless. The Japanese walk through retail establishments, and bullet trains, and streets almost ignoring the linguistic public announcements, and endless linguistic tape recordings, as if there is nothing worthy of their attention. Language, the holy logos, is just background noise. Further as Kim demonstrates, in her mind blowing paper, language does not improve, but actually gets in the way of East Asian thinking. This is because East Asians or at least Japanese lack the linguistic other, the third person perspective on self that would allow them to linguistically reflect upon their actions (Mori, 1999).

On the other hand, as Masuda and Nisbett (2006) demonstrate demonstrate, Western are zombies in that they are comparatively unaware of what there is to be seen. Westerners only focus upon, only cognise, only notice the central aspects of our environment, because, in my opinion, we focus on those aspects that we can linguistically describe. Further, westerners lack the power to "hansei" or literally reflect because they lack the visual other, the third person perspective on self (Heine, et al. 2008).

From a Western point of view, the Japanese are zombies. They are so caught up in the environment that they hardly notice announcements such as the endless loop tape player pictured above (top), and not feel that these voices are animate, that they are being spoken to.

From a Japanese point of view Westerners are zombies. We, Westerners are so caught up as we are by our (linguistic) thoughts, we do not notice the changes that are going on around us. We do not even notice that gorillas are in our midst (Simons & Chabris, 1999). We can put statues all around our towns and cities, and not feel these statues are animate, or that we are being watched (above bottom).

We are zombies to each other. To the Japanese, the voice is fluff and not the voice of conscience. On the other hand, to Westerners the image is "mere image," and not the mirror of heart (c.f. Chamberlain, 1982, Preface).

I guess therefore that there may eventually be another war between the Japanese and Westerners. I hope that that war is carried out as far as possible in art and literature rather than in physical violence. As Zombie comedy shows, zombies need not be felt to be evil but just wacky and amusing.

Chamberlain, B.H. (1982 [1919]) The Kojiki: Records of Ancient Matters. Tuttle Publishing, Retrieved, 2016/2/11 from http://www.sacred-texts.com/shi/kj/kj007.htm
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.
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.
Masuda, T. & Nisbett, R. E. (2006). Culture and change blindness. Cognitive Sciences, 30, 381-399. Retrieved, on 2012/10/31 from csjarchive.cogsci.rpi.edu/2006v30/2/s15516709HCOG0000_63/...
Mori, A. 森有正. (1999). 森有正エッセー集成〈5〉. 筑摩書房.
Nakashima, Y. 中島, 義道. (1999). うるさい日本の私. 新潮社.
Nakashima, Y. 中島, 義道. (1997). 「対話」のない社会―思いやりと優しさが圧殺するもの. PHP研究所.
Simons, D. J., & Chabris, C. F. (1999). Gorillas in our midst: Sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events. Perception, 28, 1059–1074. Retrieved, on 2012/10/31 from www.wjh.harvard.edu/~cfc/Simons1999.pdf

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Monday, October 29, 2012


The Mirror of the Japanese is not the Gaze of others

The Mirror of the Japanese is not the Gaze of the others by timtak
The Mirror of the Japanese is not the Gaze of the others, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
The majority of research on the effect of mirrors finds that looking in a mirror is NOT the same as being looked at by others, or being aware of the gaze of others (Brockner, Hjelle, & Plant, 1985; C. S. Carver, 1975; Charles S. Carver, 1977; Charles S. Carver & Scheier, 1981, 2001; Davies, 1982; Dijksterhuis & Knippenberg, 2000; W. J. Froming, Walker, & Lopyan, 1982; William J. Froming & Carver, 1981; F. X. Gibbons, 1978; Frederick X. Gibbons, Carver, Scheier, & Hormuth, 1979; Frederick X. Gibbons & Gaeddert, 1984; Goukens, Dewitte, & Warlop, 2007; Hormuth, 1982; Macrae, Bodenhausen, & Milne, 1998; Porterfield et al., 1988; M. F. Scheier & Carver, 1980; M. F. Scheier, Carver, & Gibbons, 1979; Michael F. Scheier, 1976; Michael F. Scheier, Carver, & Gibbons, 1981; Spengler, Brass, Kühn, & Schutz-Bosbach, 2010) at all.

Indeed some research shows that looking at oneself in a mirror produces exactly the opposite effect as being looked at by others. Being looked at by others encourages people to conform to other's expectations. Looking at a mirror generally encourages people to conform to their own internal standards.

There is some research however, that has shown mirrors to increase private self awareness, and at least one paper that has argued that mirrors increase conformance.

So bearing in mind that Japanese are largely unaffected by mirrors (Heine et al, 2008), what does this suggest?

1) That as in the minority of experiments that show mirror's increase public self awareness, and increasing conformance (Diener & Srull, 1979; Govern & Marsch, 1997; Plant & Ryan, 2006; Wheeler, Morrison, DeMarree, & Petty, 2008; Wiekens & Stapel, 2008; Zanna, 1990) the mirror that they are mentally simulating is "the eyes of the world" (seken no me 世間の目). This is quite likely, and I predict in part true. Mirrors are found to increase both public AND private self awareness, so it seems likely that the mental mirror of the Japanese has both of these effects. The "Interdependent self" (Markus and Kitayama, 1991) of the Japanese is not an absense of self but a self that is both aware of itself, and aware of the impact of others upon itself. The dual influence of the Japanese mental mirror would explain the two aspects of the Japanese self.

2) Even if it were the case that the mental mirror of the Japanese is increase private self awareness there is research to suggest that Private self awareness is not a unitary phenomenon (Grant, Franklin, & Langford, 2002; Mittal & Balasubramanian, 1987; Trapnell & Campbell, 1999) but instead
2.1) motivated in different ways by curiosity (leading to self reflection) and a automatic, morbid desire to see the self (rumination)(Trapnell & Campbell, 1999).
2.2) It is also argued that Private self awareness has a motivational and cognitive aspect: on the one hand is an awareness of internal self states and attitudes, and on the other it is the desire to reflect upon the self(Grant, Franklin, & Langford, 2002).

It may be that the Japanese are high in the second ruminatory, motivational element of private self-awareness which is not coupled by an increase in self-cognition, as Ma-Kellams recent research tends to suggest.

3) The Japanese have a different type of independent self, that sees itself from the positition of a super-addressee, Other or God (known in Japan as Amaterasu the sungoddess) visually, with an aesthetic rather than logical impartiality ([Adam]Smith).

Whatever way you cut it however, seeing oneself in a mirror is different from being seen by an audience. In order to unpack this distinction, I claim it will be necessary to reject the argument that the Japanese are "collectivists" in the sense of being socially dependent, since the mirror that the Japanese carry with them also provides a impartial, objective, viewpoint because it is a "riken no ken," a view of self not from that of others, but from a self away from self.

The excellent, for my purposes, image is original artwork by Ms. Miho Fujimura.

Aaker, J. L. (2000). Accessibility Or Diagnosticity? Disentangling the Influence of Culture on Persuasion Processes and Attitudes. Journal of Consumer Research, 26(4), 340–357. doi:10.1086/209567
Brockner, J., Hjelle, L., & Plant, R. W. (1985). Self-focused attention, self-esteem, and the experience of state depression. Journal of personality, 53(3), 425–434.
Carver, C. S. (1975). Physical aggression as a function of objective self-awareness and attitudes toward punishment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 11(6), 510–519. Retrieved from www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0022103175900025
Carver, Charles S. (1977). Self-awareness, perception of threat, and the expression of reactance through attitude change. Journal of Personality, 45(4), 501–512. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1977.tb00167.x
Carver, Charles S., & Scheier, M. F. (1981). Self-Consciousness and Reactance. Journal of Research in Personality, 15(1), 16–29. Retrieved from www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/detail?accno=EJ248215
Carver, Charles S., & Scheier, M. F. (2001). On the Self-Regulation of Behavior. Cambridge University Press.
Davies, M. F. (1982). Self-focused attention and belief perseverance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 18(6), 595–605. doi:10.1016/0022-1031(82)90075-0
Diener, E., & Srull, T. K. (1979). Self-awareness, psychological perspective, and self-reinforcement in relation to personal and social standards. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(3), 413–423. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.37.3.413
Dijksterhuis, A., & Bargh, J. A. (2001). The perception-behavior expressway: Automatic effects of social perception on social behavior. Advances in experimental social psychology, 33, 1–40. Retrieved from www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0065260101800034
Dijksterhuis, A. P., & Knippenberg, A. V. (2000). Behavioral indecision: Effects of self-focus on automatic behavoir. Social Cognition, 18(1), 55–74. Retrieved from search.proquest.com/docview/229595405/abstract/139CDA6646...
Fejfar, M. C., & Hoyle, R. H. (2000). Effect of Private Self-Awareness on Negative Affect and Self-Referent Attribution: A Quantitative Review. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 4(2), 132–142. doi:10.1207/S15327957PSPR0402_02
Froming, W. J., Walker, G. R., & Lopyan, K. J. (1982). Public and private self-awareness: When personal attitudes conflict with societal expectations. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 18(5), 476–487. Retrieved from www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0022103182900671
Froming, William J., & Carver, C. S. (1981). Divergent Influences of Private and Public Self-Consciousness in a Compliance Paradigm. Journal of Research in Personality, 15(2), 159–71. Retrieved from webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:PueNQmlstsI...
Gibbons, F. X. (1978). Sexual standards and reactions to pornography: Enhancing behavioral consistency through self-focused attention. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36(9), 976. Retrieved from psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/36/9/976/
Gibbons, Frederick X., Carver, C. S., Scheier, M. F., & Hormuth, S. E. (1979). Self-focused attention and the placebo effect: Fooling some of the people some of the time. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 15(3), 263–274. doi:10.1016/0022-1031(79)90037-4
Gibbons, Frederick X., & Gaeddert, W. P. (1984). Focus of attention and placebo utility. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 20(2), 159–176. doi:10.1016/0022-1031(84)90018-0
Goukens, C., Dewitte, S., & Warlop, L. (2007). Me, myself, and my choices: The influence of private self-awareness on preference-behavior consistency. Available at SSRN 1094748. Retrieved from papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1094748
Govern, J. M., & Marsch, L. A. (1997). Inducing Positive Mood Without Demand Characteristics. Psychological Reports, 81(3), 1027–1034. doi:10.2466/pr0.1997.81.3.1027
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/~henrich/Website/Papers/Mirrors-pspb4%5...
Hormuth, S. E. (1982). Self-awareness and drive theory: Comparing internal standards and dominant responses. European Journal of Social Psychology, 12(1), 31–45. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2420120103
Hormuth, S. E. (1991). The Ecology of the Self: Relocation and Self-Concept Change. Cambridge University Press.
Macrae, C. N., Bodenhausen, G. V., & Milne, A. B. (1998). Saying no to unwanted thoughts: self-focus and the regulation of mental life. Journal of personality and social psychology, 74(3), 578–589.
Plant, R. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2006). Intrinsic motivation and the effects of self-consciousness, self-awareness, and ego-involvement: An investigation of internally controlling styles. Journal of Personality, 53(3), 435–449. Retrieved from onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-6494.1985.tb00...
Porterfield, A. L., Mayer, F. S., Dougherty, K. G., Kredich, K. E., Kronberg, M. M., Marsee, K. M., & Okazaki, Y. (1988). Private self-consciousness, canned laughter, and responses to humorous stimuli. Journal of Research in Personality, 22(4), 409–423. doi:10.1016/0092-6566(88)90001-3
Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1980). Private and public self-attention, resistance to change, and dissonance reduction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39(3), 390. Retrieved from psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/39/3/390/
Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Gibbons, F. X. (1979). Self-directed attention, awareness of bodily states, and suggestibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(9), 1576. Retrieved from psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1981-01346-001
Scheier, Michael F. (1976). Self-awareness, self-consciousness, and angry aggression. Journal of Personality, 44(4), 627–644. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1976.tb00142.x
Scheier, Michael F., Carver, C. S., & Gibbons, F. X. (1981). Self-focused attention and reactions to fear. Journal of Research in Personality, 15(1), 1–15. doi:10.1016/0092-6566(81)90002-7
Sedikides, C. (1992). Attentional effects on mood are moderated by chronic self-conception valence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18(5), 580–584. Retrieved from psp.sagepub.com/content/18/5/580.short
Spengler, S., Brass, M., Kühn, S., & Schutz-Bosbach, S. (2010). Minimizing motor mimicry by myself: self-focus enhances online action-control mechanisms during motor contagion. Consciousness and cognition, 19(1), 98–106. Retrieved from biblio.ugent.be/publication/1030838/file/1090307.pdf
Turco, R. M. (1996). Self-referencing, quality of argument, and persuasion. Current Psychology, 15(3), 258–276. Retrieved from www.springerlink.com/index/G43442LN62813201.pdf
Unconscious Facial Reactions to Emotional Facial Expressions. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2012, from pss.sagepub.com/content/11/1/86.full.pdf+html
Wheeler, S. C., Morrison, K. R., DeMarree, K. G., & Petty, R. E. (2008). Does self-consciousness increase or decrease priming effects? It depends. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(3), 882–889. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2007.09.002
Wiekens, C. J., & Stapel, D. A. (2008). The Mirror and I: When private opinions are in conflict with public norms. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(4), 1160–1166. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2008.02.005
Zanna, M. P. (1990). Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Academic Press.
Grant, A. M., Franklin, J., & Langford, P. (2002). The self-reflection and insight scale: A new measure of private self-consciousness. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 30(8), 821–835. Retrieved from www.ingentaconnect.com/content/sbp/sbp/2002/00000030/0000...
Mittal, B., & Balasubramanian, S. K. (1987). Testing the dimensionality of the self-consciousness scales. Journal of Personality Assessment, 51(1), 53–68. Retrieved from www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327752jpa5101_5
Trapnell, P. D., & Campbell, J. D. (1999). Private self-consciousness and the five-factor model of personality: distinguishing rumination from reflection. Journal of personality and social psychology, 76(2), 284. Retrieved from psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/76/2/284/

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Two Ways of Seeing a Mirror

Two Ways of Seeing a Mirror by timtak
Two Ways of Seeing a Mirror, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
In this American cartoon the girl sees her own self-love and self-criticism in the mirror, whereas the boy sees his sister's criticism of himself in the mirror. Both scenarios are possible. Larger mirrors (such as this one) have been found to promote the "private self awareness" of the little boy, small ones have been found to promote the private self awareness of the little girl.

The Japanese are found to be unaffected by mirrors (Heine, et al. 2008).

Social psychologists such as Dov Cohen, and Steven Heine, would, or do argue that mirrors are, for the Japanese who seem to have them in their heads, like the boy sees in them, a personification, internalistion of the other. In other words, mirrors can be understood to Japanese raise public self awareness. I argue that the mirror that the Japanese have in their heads is more like that of the girl in this comic.

The mirrors that Japanese do not need, and are are not influenced by, because they have intra-psychically simulated them to the piont that they have a mirror in their head, enables themselves to see themselves from their own point of view.

In other words, Japanese mental mirrors raise private self awareness and the Japanese are in a permanent state of high private self-awareness. This means, I predict that the same Japanese that are unaffected by mirrors are likely to conform less and be more aware of who they themselves are, two behaviour traits which are very inappropriate for collectivists.

Cohen, D., Hoshino-Browne, E., & Leung, A. K. (2007). Culture and the structure of personal experience: Insider and outsider phenomenologies of the self and social world. Advances in experimental social psychology, 39, 1–67.
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/~henrich/Website/Papers/Mirrors-pspb4%5...

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Sunday, October 28, 2012


Japanese Aquisitions and Masaki Yuki's Research

Japanese Aquisitions and Masaki Yuki's Research by timtak
Japanese Aquisitions and Masaki Yuki's Research, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
Due to the strength of the yen and the shrinking Japanese domestic market, there were more mergers and aquistions of Western companies by Japanese companies this year, than at any other time in history, or at least the past twenty two years. I wonder how Japanese companies, such as Dentsu (電通), the largest Japanese advertising company, will manage Western companies, such as the Aegis Group.

I guess that it will depend upon the industry. In manufacturing and hard (as in hardware) industries the Japanese will bring with them praxis that is successful and will be respected by their Western workforce. But in industries whose products are formal (read linguistic) constructions, such as finance, (non-game) software and to a significant extent, advertising, importing Japanese workways may be more fraught.

If the Japanese managers read up on the cultural differences between Westerners and Japanese they may be persuaded that their new British employees need to be taught to be more harmonious, to work better in teams. If they reach this conclusion then I think that they will have been, in my humble opinion, misguided.

I want to recommend to the management at Dentsu the only mainstream research that espouses a qualitative rather than quantitative difference between Western and Japanese ways of thinking: the excellent research by Masaki Yuki (2003).

For the most part Japanese are argued to be more sensitive to the group (Hofsteded, 1991) or more sensitive to context and more information (the varied and also excellent research of Nisbett and Masuda). The mainstream rhetoric regarding the differences between Western and Japanese culture, is quantitative: one of more rather than less.

Masaki Yuki however, argued that the difference between Japanese and Western social behaviour is a qualitative one. Westerners are not more individual or more collective but they interact with groups in different ways to Westerners. Indeed in their group behaviour, it is Westerners that are more inclined to loose their individuality since they identify with their groups, differentiating ingroup (e.g. my company) from outgroup (e.g. competitor company). Japanese on the other hand, in their group behaviour, pay little attention to other groups (other companies) but instead focus on the relationships with other ingroup members, and indeed upon the individuality of other ingroup members. The Japanese managers might therefore even encourage their new British employees to be more individual, to give each other more room for creative freedom and being themselves, as -- according to Yuki's theory -- occurs within Japanese groups.

Masaki Yuki (2003) argues that while Westerner groups have a tendency to focus upon shared group traits and ideals, and identifying with these lose a sense of who they are as individuals, Japanese groups have a tendency to focus upon the symbioses within the group: the fact that the group is made up of a network of many different individuals with different traits and skills.

Jacques Lacan argued that if one *imagines* ones interpersonal relationships then one *see* them as diadic, one-to-one, interpersonal relationships. What he failed to realised - or implicitly rejected - is that one can visualise a group as a whole, as a network, since he believed that it is only in language that one can simulate generalised third person viewpoint (ear-point, superaddressee, impartial auditor) or in his terminology, the "Other". Can one imagine a group? Sure one can, especially if one takes group photographs, as was recommended by recent research on the promotion of group efficiency.

Back in 2003, when I was still almost a researcher, Professor Yuki had me make English correction suggestions on his paper. I was honoured and excited. I recommended to him the connection with Lacan's theory of "diadic relationships" in the imaginaire (world of imaginable representations) but, of course, he did not take it up. Indeed, perhaps due to the extremely controversial nature of his paper, he has undertaken relatively little research in that paper's direction, despite the fact that it was great.

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.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012


142 Japanese Cultural Artifacts 142 日本文化の物体

100 yen shop 100円ショップ, ASIMO アシモ, baku Aibou アイボウ ロボット犬, banchizu 番地図 tourou 灯篭, butsudan 仏壇, calpis カルピス, capsule Hotel キャップスールホテル, chawan 茶碗, chonmage ちょんまげ, chouchin 提灯, coin seimaiki コイン精米機, cosplay clothes  コスプレの服, daikon 大根, daruma だるま, denki nabe 電気鍋, , dohyou土俵dojou 道場 meron pan メロンパン, doraemon ドラえもん, eiyouzai 栄養剤, ema 絵馬, endless tape 売り場で使われる宣伝用の永遠な録音テープ, engrish t-shirts 間違った英語の印刷されたT-shirt, esute salon エステサロン, fami-con ファミコン, fugu 河豚, fusuma ふすま, futon 布団, gachagacha ガチャガチャ , gakuran 学ラン, game boy ゲームボイ, gattaisuruomocha 合体する玩具, genkan 玄関, geta 下駄, Godzilla ゴジラ, goshuugibukuro, haiku 俳句, hakama , haniwa 埴輪, happi 法被(はっぴ), haramaki 腹巻, hennshin belt kabuto mushi カブトムシ, hyousatsu 表札, igo 囲碁, inkan 印鑑, irezumi 刺青, jidouhannbaiki 自動販売機, jika tabi, jinja 神社, juku , juzu 数珠, ka-bu mirror カーブミラー, kado matsu 門松, kagami mochi 鏡餅, kakejiku 掛け軸, kamen rider 仮面ライダー, kamidana 神棚, kamon 家紋, karesannsui 枯山水 禅寺にある砂利の庭, katorisenkou 蚊取り線香, kendama 剣玉, kimono 着物, koi washikitoire 和式トイレ, koi-nobori 鯉幟, koma コマ, koseki 戸籍, koto , kouban 交番, kuwagata クワガタ, kyuusu 急須(きゅうす), long cooking chopsticks 調理用の長い箸, loose socks ルースソックス, love hotel ラブホテル, mahjong 麻雀, maneki neko 招き猫, manga マンガ, mimi kaki 耳かき, model food 食べ物の模型, mukae dango 迎え団子, negajou 現賀状, nobori , nokorigi のこぎり, noren のれん, obentou お弁当, obi , oden おでん, ojizou お地蔵, okonomiyaki お好み焼き, okyou お経, omamori お守り, omen お面, omiki お神酒, omikoshi お神輿, omikuji お御籤, omikuji お御籤,  onikan car 鬼カン車, onsen 温泉, origami 折り紙, oto hime 音姫, Pachinko パチンコ, puri-Kura プリクラ, randoseru ランドセル, rencon レンコン, renge レンゲ (ラーメンのスプーン), ryokucha 緑茶, saisen-bako賽銭箱, sake お酒, samue 作務衣, sashimi さしみ, sentou 銭湯, se-ra-fuku セーラー服, shakuhachi 尺八, shamisen 三味線, shichirin 七輪, shimenawa 注連縄, shinkasen 新幹線, shouchuu 焼酎, shougi 将棋, shouji 障子, sodaigomi 粗大ゴミ, soroban 算盤, sound truck 街宣車・宣伝カー, sports-shinbun スポーツ新聞, Suihanki 炊飯器, taketonbou 竹とんぼ, tamagocchi たまごっち, tatami , tawara senkyou posters 選挙ポスター, tetsuwan atom 鉄腕アトム, tokonoma 床の間, torii 鳥居, toy figures フィギア, tsunokakushi 角隠し, ukiyoe 浮世絵, unchi-gumi うんちぐみ®, usu , wakaba no ma-ku 若葉のマーク, washiki toilette 和式トイレ, wasshletto ワシュレット, wedding chapel ウェディングチャペル, yama Imo 山芋, yatai 屋台, zabuton 座布団, dohyou土俵

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Friday, October 26, 2012


Individualism and Collectivism in Magazine Photos

Individualism and Collectivism in Magazine Photos by timtak
Individualism and Collectivism in Magazine Photos, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
Don't get me wrong. I don't think that "collectivism" does not exist as an "ism" in Japan or that individualism is not prevalent as an "ism" in the USA. Nothing could be further from the truth. The name of Japan is sometimes "Wa" or "harmony," the Japanese call themselves "The Harmonious." And Westerners are always calling themselves individualists. Jeremy Paxman, possibly the most famous British television jouralist described the London Olympics opening ceremony in the following way:

"Whatever nit-picking worries anyone has about the Opening Ceremony (for me, it was the almost total absence of the golden thread of British history, the fight for personal liberty), it set a tone that was amplified throughout the games. Could a nation of cussed individualists ever bring off an opening show to rival the spectacular we saw in Beijing?" [my emphasis] (Paxman, 2012)

There can be no doubt that at the level of linguistic philosophy, the Japanese espouse harmony and cooperation, whereas Westerners espouse personal liberty and individualism.

How about in the real world? I find the Japanese to as individual as the English. The excellent review paper by Beth Morling (Morling & Lamoreaux, 2008), "Culture outside the head," however reaches the opposite conclusion, so I thought I had better see what it had to say.

The first paper reviewed paper I could download, claimed that since Japnaese adverts used more imagery and were less likely to mention the product directly, they were therefore colectivistic; trying to build up a relationship with the purchaser (Javalgi, Cutler, & Malhotra, 1995). I thought that this analysis was unfair. Readers of this blog (?!) would know that it is my opinion that Japanese use imagery because they identify with images and have a God (or generalised other) that looks rather than listens (Leuers & Sonoda, 1999b).

While clicking around on analysises of print media, however, I cam up with a result that made me pleased. Wang (2006) noted that Taiwanese magazines are Westernised and that collectivist messages (table page 73) and individualist messages (table page 68) are aboult equal at the linguistic level in adverts in Taiwanese and American magazines. Let us assume that this result is due to Westernisation.

However, Wang also noted that when it comes to photographs, Taiwanese magazines are more likely to show individuals (Taiwan 73.1%, US 59%) and correspondingly far less likely to show groups (Taiwa 26.9%, US 41%) (see table page 65). This is not at all unusual. Japanese magazines are lonely (or narcissistic). Their protagonists are displayed on their own.

This result mirrors that found in my research on autophotography (Leuers & Sonoda, 1999b: see Heine 2007, p213). Japanese autophotography displays not only more positivity, but more pictures of self, whereas American photos show more pictures of other people.

Having a look at some Japanese and American fashion magazines, it seems that the same pattern is repeated. American women want to be kissed and appear with men in US Cosmopolitan. Japanese women are more self-reliant and rarely show men in their magazines (or collages) because men's demands for affection are rather annoying (uzai).

Westerners are linguistically individualist since they consider themselves to be linguistic entities (narratives) and try to differentiate their narratives from those of others (largely unsuccessfully, see Leuers & Sonoda, 1999a). Japanese see themselves as their self-images, first and foremost their face (Watsui), and as seperate embodied existances they yearn for communitas and harmony which they express in their "let's make friends" philosophy of harmony (Yamagishi, 2002).

In any event, I do feel that at a personal level the Japanese are extremely self~possessed, self-reliant and difficult to push around. Anyone married to a Japanese woman should know that, but despite the fact that some famous cultural psychologists are, they do not reach the same conclusion. I guess that they presume that they have married an unusual Japanese. (You know who I am thinking of...Fat chance that he reads my blog).

Heine, S. J. (2007). Cultural Psychology (First ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.
Javalgi, R. G., Cutler, B. D., & Malhotra, N. K. (1995). Print advertising at the component level: A cross-cultural comparison of the United States and Japan. Journal of Business Research, 34(2), 117–124. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/014829639400116V
Leuers, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (1999a). Independent self bias. Progress in asian social psychology, 3, 87–104. Retrieved from httyp://www.nihonbunka.com/docs/independent_self.rtf
Leuers, T., & Sonoda, N. (1999a). The eye of the other and the independent self of the Japanese. Symposium presentation at the 3rd Conference of the Asian Association of Social Psychology, Taipei, Taiwan. Retrieved from http://nihonbunka.com/docs/aasp99.htm
Morling, B., & Lamoreaux, M. (2008). Measuring culture outside the head: A meta-analysis of individualism—collectivism in cultural products. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 12(3), 199–221.
Paxman, J. (2012, August 12). London 2012 Olympics: Who thinks Britain is rubbish now? Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/9469017/London-2012-Olympics-Who-thinks-Britain-is-rubbish-now.html
Wang, I. C. (2006). I‘ or’ WE"? A comparative analysis of individualism in Taiwanese and US print advertisements. Retrieved from http://etd.lib.nsysu.edu.tw/ETD-db/ETD-search/view_etd?URN=etd-0728106-154652
山岸俊男. (2002). 心でっかちな日本人―集団主義文化という幻想. 日本経済新聞社.

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Monday, October 22, 2012


Red Lights and Risky Shift

Crossing at the Daikoku
Americans are called individualists. Japanese are called collectivists. At the level of the prevalent philosophies pertaining in each culture, these are fair descriptions.

But when it comes to behaviour it seems to me that these labels are sometimes used unfairly since
1) The labels are always applied, in accordance with the stereotype, despite the fact that
2) All social behaviour has both aspects, and can be labelled in both ways.

First of all I would like to justify the second assertion. Markus and Kitayama (1991) in the paper that started cultural psychology, replaced the distinction between individualism and collectivism, with the following more complex distinction:

Westerners tend to think that the self is independent, and that groups are just for joining.  The biggest distinction that groups have is that they are dangerous, in that they are seen as having the potential to de-individuate, or de-personalise; make their members forget about the unalienable individuality that they had in the first place.

Japanese, tend to think that the self is interdependent: created by groups and social bonds without which they would hardly have any individuality at all. Individuals and groups are mutually creating.

I have heard cultural psychologists group collectivism with the latter interdependent view of self, not without just cause. But it should be remembered that there is a paradigm shift separating the old "Individualism Collectivism" theory from that of Markus and Kitayama. The latter is a theory about theories. This fact can be forgotten.

Importantly, from a "Interdependent" perspective, individualism and collectivism do not exist , or at least they are not opposed to one another. Every so called "individualist behaviour" is made possible by social relationships, and every collectivist behaviour is formative of and beneficial for individuals. In so far as every human behaviour is social (other than the most basic, and then even those), all behaviours therefore have a collective and individual aspect. Lets consider some examples.

Risky Shift (group polarisation: Stoner, 1961: see e.g. Isenberg, 1986) is something that is found in the US but far less so in Asia. Risky shift is the tendency for Western groups to behave more riskily after group discussion - such as the Bay of Pigs, Cuban invasion disaster. The generals that got together to discuss what to do about Cuba started out moderate but converged on an initially extreme, and risky decision, to invade Cuba.

In Asian on the other hand, Isozaki's research tried hard but failed to find persuasive evidence for risky shift in Japan. Sometimes the opposite -- cautious shift -- is found, in 1/3 of Isogaki (1981) experiments and cautious shift in groups (Hong, 1978) and just by giving reasons (Briley, Morris, & Simonson, 2000a, 2000b) is also found among Chinese.

In accordance with the stereotype, it is explained that extreme actions, appearing unique, are highly evaluated in Western culture so groups tend to converge on the most daring of options, whereas Japanese value harmony and converge on compromises.
Consider another behaviour, pictured in the above photo. It is described by Japanese comedian Beat Takeshi's adage: "Red Light, Everyone Crosses, We aren't scared"(赤信号、皆で渡れば、怖くない). The lady at rear looks like she she is following or conforming to the red-light breaking behaviour of the guy striding out in front. She isn't scared, because someone else is doing it. So is she being a collectivist? Yes and no. In general, crossing the road in this way, free loading on the cognitive effort of other road crossers, especially when there are a lot of them, might also be described as an individualist behaviour.

On the other hand again, risky shift (group polarisation) may be more similar to the above "Red Light, If everyone crosses, We're not scared" phenomena. All those generals that got together and decided to invade Cuba may have been thinking"well everyone else here thinks it'll be okay". Indeed one explanation of risky shift is that people in groups feel less responsible and make riskier decisions due to the evasion of responsibility.

Both crossing the road in groups and risky shift have their negative aspects. The guy in the photo above may be in a daze too and a truck may be coming along. Unfortunately, there was a truck, called Castro, coming along and the bay of pigs invasion was a disaster.
There are several reasons why a behaviour is labelled "collectivist," two of them are
1) Lack of individual uniqueness (not risky, moderate)
2) Lack of individual mindfulness (just goin' with the flow)
Both these came up in the same factor in a recent study on individualism.
I think that, perhaps excepting the above photographed example, when Japanese choose harmony, they are often be doing it quite mindfully and deliberately, and when Westerners choose uniqueness they are often not being so mindful, even though they may debate at length.

Briley, D. A., Morris, M. W., & Simonson, I. (2000a). Reasons as Carriers of Culture: Dynamic versus Dispositional Models of Cultural Influence on Decision Making. Journal of Consumer Research, 27(2), 157–178. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/314318
Briley, D. A., Morris, M. W., & Simonson, I. (2000b). Reasons as Carriers of Culture: Dynamic vs. Dispositional Models of Cultural Influence on Decision Making. Journal of Consumer Research, 27(2), 157–178. Retrieved from http://works.bepress.com/briley/1
Hong, L. K. (1978). Risky Shift and Cautious Shift: Some Direct Evidence on the Culture-Value Theory. Social Psychology, 41(4), 342–346. doi:10.2307/3033587
Isenberg, D. J. (1986). Group polarization: A critical review and meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(6), 1141. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1986-24477-001
Isozaki, M. (1984). The effect of discussion on polarization of judgments. Japanese Psychological Research, 26(4), 187–193.
Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review; Psychological Review, 98(2), 224. Retrieved from http://www.biu.ac.il/PS/docs/diesendruck/2.pdf
Stoner, J. A. F. (1961). A comparison of individual and group decisions involving risk Unpublished master’s thesis, School of Industrial Management. MIT.
磯崎三喜年. (1981). 集団分極化現象に関する研究. 心理学研究, 52(4), p248–251. Retrieved from http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/40001977542
磯崎三喜年. (1982). 集団分極化とその説明理論について. 愛知教育大学研究報告, 教育科学, p181–191. Retrieved from http://repository.aichi-edu.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/10424/3474/1/kenkyo31181191.pdf
磯崎三喜年. (1995). 自己生成的態度変化としての極性化効果とその持続性に関する研究. 心理学研究, 66(3), p161–168. Retrieved from http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/40001978174
磯崎三喜年, 天根哲治, 上野徳美, & 横川和章. (1980). 521 集団分極化現象に関する研究(1)(社会3,社会). 日本教育心理学会総会発表論文集, (22), 640–641. Retrieved from http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110008128465
岡本浩一. (1986). 社会心理学ショート・ショート―実験でとく心の謎. 新曜社.
橋口捷久. (1974). 集団内の意思決定者数とリスク・テイキングの水準. 実験社会心理学研究, 14(2), 123–131.
上野徳美, 横川和章, 天根哲治, & 磯崎三喜年. (1980). 522 集団分極化現象に関する研究(2)(社会3,社会). 日本教育心理学会総会発表論文集, (22), 642–643. Retrieved from http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110008128466

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Sunday, October 21, 2012


Hospitality and Regulatory Focus


 As demonstrated by Hamamura and Heine (2008;Hamamura, Meijer, Heine, Kamaya & Hori, 2009), the Japanese have a prevention, as opposed to promotion, regulatory focus (Higgins and Spiegel, 2004), or motivation style. This means that the Japanese hare happy when nothing goes wrong, or if all goes smoothly (todokoorinaku 滞りなく) and they don't care if things are especially "wow". Westerners are more inclined to want the "wow"-- something raw and unique -- and they are less concerned if there are a few mishaps along the way.

These differences in what motivates the Japanese and Westerners are especially visible in hospitality preferences, so tourism providers should take note. To Japanese, Western hospitality can seem hapzard, scruffy, or poorly planned. To Westerners, Japanese hospitality can seem clinical, hermetically sealed, mass-produced. Japanese weddings parties are a prime example of flawless, raw-less hospitality of Japan.

This particular wedding party had a spontaenity and uniqueness that I had not experienced before. It should be remembered that the Japanese hold an after-party (ni-ji-kai), and a after-after-party (sanjikai) where there is much more spontaneous "wow". Thank you for inviting me. I had a great time.


Briley, D. A., & Wyer, R. S. (2002). The Effects of Group Membership on the Avoidance of Negative Outcomes: Implications for Social and Consumer Decisions. Journal of Consumer Research, 29(3), 400–415. Retrieved from http://works.bepress.com/briley/3
Hamamura, T. (2008). Approach and avoidance motivations across cultures. In A. J. Elliot (Ed.), Handbook of Approach and Avoidance Motivation (pp. 557–570). Mahwah,  NJ,  US: Erlbaum. Retrieved from http://www.psych.ubc.ca/%7Eheine/docs/avoidancehandbook.rtf
Hamamura, T., & Heine, S. J. (2006). Self-Regulation Across Cultures: New Perspective on Culture and Cognition Research. International Conference of the Cognitive Science, Vancouver, BC.
Hamamura, T., Meijer, Z., Heine, S. J., Kamaya, K., & Hori, I. (2009). Approach—Avoidance Motivation and Information Processing: A Cross-Cultural Analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(4), 454–462. Retrieved from http://www.psych.ubc.ca/%7Eheine/docs/2009approach.pdf
Higgins, E. T., & Spiegel, S. (2004). Promotion and prevention strategies for self-regulation: A motivated cognition perspective. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2004-00163-008

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Social Loafing in Japan Revisited

Social Loafing in Japan Revisited by timtak
Social Loafing in Japan Revisited, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
Nakano, one of my seminar students, did a replication of the classic experiment on social loafing (Ringleman, 1913; see Kravitz & Martin, 1986), using a chocolate grabbing task. Earlier replications of this experiment have shown mixed results. In a shouting task, Latane, Williams, & Harkins (1979) found social loafing present pan-culturally, even among subjects from Malaysia, Thailand and Japan. In a similar task Shirakashi (1984) found no social loafing among Japanese. Furthermore two studies (Gabrenya, Wang, & Latane, 1985; Matsui, Kakuyama, & Onglatco, 1987) found the reverse effect, social labouring or social effort in counting tasks among Taiwanese and Japanese Children. Early (1989,1993) found in a tendency towards social labouring among Hong Kong Adults, and Karau & Williams (1993) in a review of social loafing research in the West and Asia found an overall tendency for Westerners to loaf and for Asians to labour with greater effort. Kugihara (1999) found that Japanese females do not loaf but that Japanese men do, and that the tendency to loaf was related to the tendency to have an interdependent self concept (Markus and Kitayama) which is itself decreasing in Japan.

In Nakano's experiment, seminar students were asked to grab as many "BIS" chocolates as they could from a bag under two conditions
1) Being told that they would receive an equal share of the chocolates grabbed by the group as a whole
2) Being told that they would receive all the chocolates that they themselves grabbed.
The results were as shown above, with average number of chocolates grabbed were greater in the individual condition (9.45) than the group condition (7.27) indicating the existence of social loafing in Japan, with statistically significant tendency (p<0 .1=".1" despite="despite" n="11).<!--0--" sample="sample" size="size" small="small" the="the">

Fan as I am of the Koushien Baseball Tournament I was hoping my students to "become one circle," and try harder in the group condition but the conditions for Japanese social effort, did not seem to have been met. Only one student grabbed more chocolates in the group condition. The order of the grabbing and the degree of encouragement received from the experimenter (who was not blind to the experimental conditions, had been persuaded by social loafing research) may have affected the result.

Dick, R. van, Tissington, P. A., & Hertel, G. (2009). Do many hands make light work?: How to overcome social loafing and gain motivation in work teams. European Business Review, 21(3), 233–245. doi:10.1108/09555340910956621
Earley, P. C. (1993). East meets West meets Mideast: Further explorations of collectivistic and individualistic work groups. Academy of management journal, 319–348. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/256525
Gabrenya, W. K., Wang, Y.-E., & Latane, B. (1985). Social Loafing on an Optimizing Task Cross-Cultural Differences among Chinese and Americans. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 16(2), 223–242. doi:10.1177/0022002185016002006
Karau, S. J., & Williams, K. D. (1993). Social loafing: A meta-analytic review and theoretical integration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(4), 681–706. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.65.4.681
Kravitz, D. A., & Martin, B. (1986). Ringelmann rediscovered: The original article. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(5), 936–941. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.50.5.936
Kugihara, N. (1999). Gender and social loafing in Japan. The Journal of social psychology, 139(4), 516–526. Retrieved from http://heldref-publications.metapress.com/index/3978hl6682r10877.pdf
Latane, B., Williams, K., & Harkins, S. (1979). Many hands make light the work: The causes and consequences of social loafing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(6), 822. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/37/6/822/
Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review; Psychological Review, 98(2), 224. Retrieved from http://www.biu.ac.il/PS/docs/diesendruck/2.pdf
Matsui, T., Kakuyama, T., & Onglatco, M. U. (1987). Effects of goals and feedback on performance in groups. Journal of Applied Psychology, 72(3), 407. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/apl/72/3/407/
Shirakashi, S. (1984). Social loafing of Japanese students. Hiroshima Forum for Psychology, 10, 35–40.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012


Japanese Wedding Chapel

Many Japanese people get married in purpose built marriage complexes, which have reception rooms, banqueting halls, and a wedding chapel which is not a real chapel but a room decorated in such a way as to appear similar to a Western church. Western "celebrants" are employed to performs the role of a priest, giving a presentation in both Japanese and English to give the proceedings an authentic, Western, Christian effect. The organ and the roof vaulting were painted in but, complete with hymns and bible readings, the atmosphere and appearance was definitely church-like. The company that I know of that that supplies celebrants to wedding chapels takes its role seriously and demands that celebrants be theists and believers in the importance of holy matrimony. They insist upon not only appearance but also the message of Christianity.

Until the influence of the West arrived in Japan there was no ritual to celebrate marriage. In place of marriage ceremonies, there was a celebration of the arrival of the bride in the ancestral home and a celebration of the first shrine visiting of newborn children since it was the vertical relationships that are holy and associated with ritual in Japan, rather than the horizontal, romantic ones. That does not, of course, mean that Japanese couples don't love each other. Far from it.

Having made this 'documentary' I was feeling a little removed from the proceedings, and was surprised to see that one of the older gentlemen in the back grow opposite me was crying. "Why is this gentleman so moved?" I thought. Then I realised, that he was one of the bride's grandparents, of which there were but three in attendance, and that he was there on his own. At which point, I started crying too. Love lives on in Japan.

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Friday, October 05, 2012


Dangerous Water Channel

Dangerous Water Channel by timtak
Dangerous Water Channel, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
As someone pointed out (B?) there are a lot of dangerous water channels in Japan with low or non-existent guard rails, in streets with no street lighting. This channel has no railings in some areas despite being 2 metres deep.

This level of physical danger exists in spite of the fact that saftey from attack is not only non-existent, but there are emergency "I am being attacked" alarm/phone stations every 50 yards along the main street coming from university. Danger caused by others is treated by with great concern, but danger due to personal "negligence" (such as not looking where you are treading) gets short shrift. Who said that Japanese do not allow their populace to do things at their own risk (jiko-sekinin de)? Having said that, I think that this difference is more to do with the prevalence of irrigation channels in this rice farming nation rather than any difference in perceptions of personal safety.

A foreign student at Yamaguchi broke their arm falling into one of these channels. A foreign visitor found a dead Japanese man in one of these channels on a Sunday morning. Those under the influence of alcohol are particularly at risk. Visitors to Japan beware. But also bear in mind that in late May the channels, or this one in Itoyone, are populated by fireflies.

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An Individualist Poem: Me, a Small Bird, and Bell

KANEKO Misuzu was a poet from Nagato in Northern Yamaguchi who lived at the beginning of the 20th century. She had a tough childhood, being sent to a foster home at the death of her father, then re-fostered by her mother's second husband, she found herself treated as a "foster child" even by her, by now estranged, mother. Leaving home, she ran a bookshop in Shimonoseki, the largest town in Yamaguchi Prefecture and wrote poetry, about 500 poems and songs mainly for children, of which 50 were published in her lifetime.

It was after her marriage however that her life became even more tragic in that her husband requested that she give up poetry and concentrate being a "housewife". When she refused, he took to having mistresses or at least prostitutes, and when he gave her a veneral disease she decided to leave him. At first she thought that she would have custody of her children but when they were taken from her, she committed suicide at the age of 27.

I imagine that she genuinely and fervently wished that her significant others would treat her on her merits, rather than according to her station or role (foster-child, housewife), so her most famous poem, in my translation below strikes me as being, very understated.

Me, a Little Bird, and a Bell

Even if I stretch out both my arms
I can't fly, not one flap, in the sky
But the little bird than can fly so well
Can't run on the ground fast, like I

Even if shake my body about
I won't make a beautiful sound
But the bell that can ring so beautifully
Doesn't know a whole heap of songs, like me

The bell, the small bird, and also me
All different, all good.

(It is much better in the original Japanese)

I often assert that the Japanese are just as individual as Westerners. I still think that this is true but it is also true that there are strong philosophical and cultural encouragements to fulfil ones roles. I think that this is because the Japanese are so individualist and full of self-love that their society would fall apart if they did not promote harmony and role-fulfilment. Perhaps Kaneko Misuzu was not so full of self-love. It is clear that she had a strong desire to be appreciated on her merits. I like to think her poems will become popular in the West.

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