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, November 04, 2012


The Chrysanthemum and the Bits of Wire

The Chrysanthemum and the Bits of Wire by timtak
The Chrysanthemum and the Bits of Wire, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
The idea for the title of Ruth Benedicts eternally famous book about Japan, "The Chrystanthemum and the Sword" may have been (see Lummis, 2007) these pieces of wire that hold up the chrysanthemums typically displayed at Japanese autumn flower festivals (see insert bottom right). Benedict appeared to have believed that in addition to a love of nature, naturalness and hence freedom, the Japanese were oppressed by a confusian iron rule, a heirarchy brought, about by the Sword. The bits of wire are the swords that holds natural Japan in place.

I argue that the Japanese are held in place not by the sword, or the bits of wire under these flowers, but by the beauty of the flowers on top. The Japanese love beauty, and desire to keep producing beautiful flowers, a beautiful people, and a beautiful country. It is in Japan as it is the USA. Society is held together by love, starting with self-love. It is just that visual beauty is of less importance than "good" narratives in the USA.

Benedict, R. (2006). The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1st ed.). Mariner Books.
Lummis, D. (2007). Ruth Benedict’s Obituary for Japanese Culture. Japan Focus, 23. Retrieved from www.japanfocus.org/-C__Douglas-Lummis/2474

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