Tuesday, November 26, 2013
An advert for recently published self-help books in the Asahi NewspaperMore and more the Japanese are teaching each other to be American. They're loving it.
Steven Heine's extensive research has shown that the most robust distinction between Americans and Japanese is that the former are full of it - they praise themselves and others way out of proportion to reality. While American's engage in this linguistic ego massage, which in the USA is said to promote health, wealth and well-being, the Japanese have been, traditionally, if anything, linguistically self-critical. The greatest advantages of being self-critical is that it facilities self-improvement. Japanese reflect upon their own flaws (hansei) and then get ride of them (kaizen).
Alas, however, such is the hegemony and attraction of Western culture, (the bs, the auto affective self-narrative) that the Japanese are reading and publishing books instructing mothers to take it easy, get into "co-chingu" and above all indulge in praise, since praise is what decides how happy you are going to be. Praise, praise praise.
They are also writing books that trash upon the last bastion of Japanese culture - Japanese industry - since Japanese industry is not nice to young people -- such as for example, Tadashi Yanai (2009) who (rather than "praising") encourages himself and others to forget their successes as soon as they have achieved them.
Soon alas they may forget how to be Japanese, and end up as really low-grade Americans, since however much they practice they are never going to catch up with us. I grew up with people who are centuries ahead in their skill at auto-ego-massage. I think that if the Japanese go down that route, they are going to get right royally shafted. While it has its drawbacks, the only Japanese way forward is to hansei and kaizen.
The other thing that these JapanAmericans are forgetting is that while their words were always self-critical in the past, the Japanese have traditionally loved what they themselves looked like. They were quite positive enough without all the "self-enhancement".
Yanai, T. 正柳井. (2009). 成功は一日で捨て去れ. 新潮社.
Labels: japan, japanese culture, nihonbunka, westernisation, 日本文化, 欧米化
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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.