Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Brought to the Courtroom
Japanese people are less likely to adorn their desk at work, or the shelves in their homes with pictures of their relatives, with one exception. Pictures of deceased relatives are often hung above the ancestral altar. This is because, I believe, pictures of people are felt to be so real that it is almost as if they are felt to be present in their picture, as they are felt to be present also inside the altar. Another example of this use of photographs to represent the deceased is the way in which surviving family members of victims and plaintiffs bring pictures of deceased relatives to Japanese courtrooms.
In the above photo (Asahi Newspaper, 17th April, 2013, Photograped by Nishibatake Shirou) Akio Mizoguchi has brought a picture of his mother, deceased, to the High Court of Japan, where it was decided that she was indeed a victim of minamata disease. Mr. Mizoguchi is shown celebrating his, and his mother's victory in the court case. He has brought the photo of his deceased mother so that she may share in the proceedings and eventual victory. Similarly, pictures of deceased victims are sometimes brought by their relatives to murder trials. These behaviours go to demonstrate that contra Westerners, who are meant to grow out of their "mirror stage," the Japanese continue to identify with images even in adult life, and even, in the case of others, post death.
The strong identification between visual images and person hood also explains why so many Japanese ghosts are felt to emerge from images such as hanging scrolls (1,2) lanterns (1,2, 3) and more recently television sets.
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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.