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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.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Omonenashi: Like the Graceful Swan Flapping its Legs Under Water

In his excellent book "Recommending Hospitality Studies" (2008) Professor Katsuhito Hattori, head of the Japanese Association of Hospitality Management provides a great many interesting distinctions between hospitality, service and Japanese hospitality (omotenashi). However his assertion that the biggest difference between Western hospitality and Japanese omotenashi is that the former is active while the latter is passive, is not a conclusion that I can agree with. Certainly omotenashi has a reserved grace and modesty. Sushi chefs form sushi with an expression of calm. The (female) heads of Japanese traditional hotels welcome their guests with and un-ruffled grace. Banquet hall staff provide Japanese meals silently in such a way as to avoid drawing attention to themselves. These service providers may seem therefore to be more "passive" than the garrulous one-upmanship provided by Western hosts, but this is merely an appearance. Even while obeying the silver rule - one should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated - omotenashi professionals are always attempting to put themselves in the position of their guests, use their creative imagination, and empathise. As the famous phrase from the Manga "Star of the Giants" puts it, "the gracefully swimming swan is paddling her legs fiercely beneath the surface of the water". Similarly Japanese hospitality/omotenashi professionals are expected to be equally ardent in their attempts to provide psychological services to their guests while maintaining that typical Japanese grace and poise. 日本ホスピタリティ・マネジメント学会の会長である服部勝人先生は、その良書『ホスピタリティー学のおすすめ』で、ホスピタリティー・サービスやおもてなしについての、そしてそれらの違いについてかずかずの示唆を与えてくれている。しかし、欧米のホスピタリティと日本のおもてなしは最大の違いを、前者が能動的で後者が受動的だとしている。これにはどうしても賛成できない。たしかにおもてなしには、閑雅で奥ゆかしいところがある。板前は動揺のない顔で寿司を握る。旅館のお上は、優雅で騒ぎのない態度でお客を招き入れる。会場の中井はお客に気にさわる話や動作をされずたんたんと静かに会席料理のしたくをする。このように日本のおもてなし専門家は、積極的な話しかけをしたり+αを提供しようとする欧米のホストと比べて、受納的に見えるが実はそうではない。自分がほしくないことを相手にしないというだけでも、もてなす側は常にお客に思いやり、気遣い、《察し》を行っている。漫画『巨人の星』の名セリフ「優雅に泳ぐ白鳥も水面下では激しく足を動かしている」のように、優雅にもてなそうとする側も、思いやり・気遣い・察しのような精神的な奉仕を行っているというのが少なくともおもてなしの理想であると思われる。 Images 板前的野村裕二師傅 by 黑欣爺, on Flickr かわじま白鳥飛来地 2014 #3 by kobaken++, on Flickr http://flic.kr/p/qgzbfw

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