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.

Friday, May 29, 2015


Sazae Tames the Lion

Sazae Tames the Lion

The lion, naked, prostrate and clearly lacking a womb, is scared. Sazae can tame anything and has tamed a sealion too, left. Like most Japanese women most of the time, Sazae appears to be on stage. She alone is fully aware of an audience. The lion is, like the Western wife perhaps, aware of the audience only through Sazae. The young chap with the ball, Katsuo I presume, is as yet oblivious. The audience constrains Sazae as it empowers her. In Japan phallogocentrism is replaced by wombimagocentrism*. When the audience watches, the women are in control, as they are controlled. Give up on the "different voice" (Gilligan, 1962) and get wombimagocentric now.

Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice. Harvard University Press.

* I think that this can be pronounced a bit like the Wombles, wom-bi-mago-centrism.


What is it about logocentricism that is phallic?

Lacan mentions that mothers are often primary caregivers whereas males are fathers by virtue of their symbolic (linguistic) position in society, and often because of their work. In some societies the brothers are those which work to support sisters and their children and are treated much like fathers to those that they support.

In patriarchal societies, patriarchs may hope that their work, their significant acts, their money is rewarded on an exchange basis, with "presence" and "affection." The "philosophy of presence", where signifier are co-present with meaning in the "car-loving" mind, may be enacted in logocentric bedroom. 

Logocentrists place themselves into the imagined dialogue between their parents.

"Car-loving" is one of Derrida's puns on "auto-affection", or onanism.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015


Japanese and Western Expressions: The Japanese Fundamental Attribution Error, The Western Honne and Tatemae

There have been several studies on Japanese and American facial expressions. Perhaps the most famous is that of David Matsumoto (see Gudykunst & Nishida, 1994) that found that Japanese were worse at recognising the four negative 'universal' expressions (fear, anger, disgust, sadness) not because these emotional expressions are not universal, but because negative emotions are repressed in Japanese culture where there is a greater stress upon harmony. This interpretation is plausible, but I remain rather unconvinced.

In this post I concentrate, however, on self-consistency in expression of emotions, but first a recap on linguistic self-expression. Westerners, or at least North Americans are almost always positive about themselves, irrespective of social situation (Kanagawa, Cross, & Markus, 2001) and even when what they are expressing is negative. Negative traits are "spun" to be positive ones.

Further, even though Americans "spin" or "enhance" their verbal expressions so that everything is positive, Americans nonetheless believe that the words of others represent their true feelings, even when they are told that the person they are listening to is reading a text that has been given to them whereas Japanese do not (Miyamoto & Kitayama, 2002).

The tendency for Westeners to believe in the consistency of verbal expressions and true feeling or self is called "The Fundamental Attribution Bias." In Japan it is however well-known and assumed that people say one thing in social situations (tatemae) whereas they mean another (honne).

I argue that this situation is reversed, or Nacalianly transformed, in Japan when one considers Japanese facial expressions.

The first phenomenon is equivocal.

Gundykunst and Nishida found that when Japanese and Americans were shown a negative film in the supposed absence of an observer (but in fact the subjects were videoed watching the film) both Americans and Japanese showed negative emotions. However, the Japanese, but not the Americans, affected positive facial expressions when describing the movie to an experimenter. This might be construed to suggest that the Japanese are less consistent in their facial expressions, but I suggest that the Japanese would attempt to affect the same smile whether they were describing a negative film or a horrible one, irrespective of who they are talking to.

It is clear at least that the Japanese have "spun" or "enahnced" their expression to make it positive when in some sense the reality was not.

Secondly when asked to rate emotion and expression of others, Gudykunst and Nishida (1994) found that Americans rated other's emotions and facial expressions differently, whereas Japanese rated emotions and facial expressions as being the same. The Japanese appeared to believe that faces expressed only true emotions.

This result is what I would call the Japanese Fundamental Attribution Bias, and the Western version of "honne and tatemae." In respect of the latter, "The face is no index to the heart," says an English proverb, "A fair face my hide a foul heart" says an American one, and the face - being potentiallly and often "two faced" - is the sine qua non of inconsistency.

These phenomena expose the same paradox: despite the fact that both Americans and Japanese "spin" their self-expressions in a positive direction in language and facial-expressions respectively, both Americans and Japanese believe in the consistency and truth of the modality that they are spinning or enhancing, and do not believe in the veridacy of the one that they are not.

This paradox is due to the modality or theatre (Weber, 2004) that matters. Americans are chronically exposed to the ear of the 'generalised other' (Mead, 1967), whereas Japanese to the 'eye of the world' (seken). In each of these theatres each attempts to appease and express their meaning, being, their selves to a hidden, intra-psychic other.

As mentioned in a previous post, Westerners claim that they are talking to only themselves, and Japanese that they are expressing themselves only to other people, but these explanations fall apart since Americans could be verbally honest if only to themselves, and Japanese would know that that they are facially dishonest to others.

The nature of self as being for Other makes us all bullshit and yet, believe it.

The image shows my wife, son and myself from some years ago and was chosen because the Westerner, and partial Westerner, are showing less consistency in their facial expressions.

I am very stupid but disgusting and in a position to realise it. Japanese culture will teach even the most stupid and disgusting of people the truth.

Gudykunst, W. B., & Nishida, T. (1994). Bridging Japanese/North American differences (Vol. 1). Sage.
Kanagawa, C., Cross, S. E., & Markus, H. R. (2001). ‘Who am I?’ The cultural psychology of the conceptual self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(1), 90–103.
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press.
Miyamoto, Y., & Kitayama, S. (2002). Cultural variation in correspondence bias: The critical role of attitude diagnosticity of socially constrained behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(5), 1239.
Weber, S. (2004). Theatricality as Medium. Fordham Univ Press. (as yet un-read, but I dig the term and I am a major fan)

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Comparative Morality and The Horrible Helper

A recent video showing the extent to which Japanese children return wallets moved me to tears.

In the USA when a child found some money (admittedly not inside a wallet) he was lauded for giving it to someone else.

Handing the money into lost property did not seem to cross anyone's mind in the USA.

Western commentators since the Edo period have marvelled at Japanese honesty with regard to personal possessions and the absence of theft. They also marvelled at the sexual mores (nakedness and the prevalence of prostitution), and speech crime (e.g. flattery, deceit, and creative accounting). That said I believe the Japanese to be the most moral nation on earth.

"The Lost Letter Technique" made famous by Milligram et. al. (1965) found that 70% of personally address letters but only 25 of Nazi/Communist party addressed "lost letters" were returned. Earlier research by Merritt and Fowler (1948: see Liggett, Blair, & Kennison, 2010) found that 85% of letters, but only 54% of letters presumed to contain money were returned.

And yes, there is comparative Lost Letter Technique research. West (2003) dropped phones and wallets containing cash in Tokyo and New York and the results were T 95% vs NY 77% for phones and T 85% vs NY30% for cash. That makes Tokyoites about three times more honest when it comes to returning wallets. Near Tokyo rates of return were obtained outside a Japanese supermarket in New York, so this is not something geographical. The Japanese are extremely honest when it comes to personal property.

In Japan stealing is almost absent, but creative accounting and linguistic obfuscation is reported to be prevalent. In the historical record numerous commentators report the low level of stealing (Bird, 1880; Cocks & Thompson, 2010; Coleridge, 1872; Golovnin, Rīkord, & Shishkov, 1824) and the strict way in which it is dealt with. At the same time, visitors have noted that linguistic misdemeanour's such as flattery, deceit, and "the squeeze" (taking a kickback of up to 100% to 200% of cost: see Bird 1880).

I claim, as always, that the amazing way in which the Japanese do not steal things but are at the same time able to "squeeze" double or triple the expenses from their employer relates to the nature of the Other (and horror) in Japanese culture.

Westerners have a horrible other that listens. This encourages us to be fairly honest, if very self-serving, in our self-narrative. Our narratives are self-enhancing but are constrained by the need for them to be palatable to another imagined human being. On the other hand, we feel no one is watching, so how we look, however, is far less fraught, ego-involved. We can get very fat, or even justify theft as redistribution of wealth (Robin Hood), since "property is [or can be argued, narrated to be] theft." We are good at promises and institutions of linguistic trust (such as insurance, and financial products) since we want to be heard to be, narrated to be, good.

The Japanese, on the other hand, have an Other (that is almost as horrifying) that looks, concealed not in the head but amongst the crowd. This encourages them to be fairly upstanding, if very self-serving, in their posture (sekentei). Their self-imaginings are self-enhancing but are constrained by the need for them to be palatable to another imagined human being. So the Japanese abhor crimes and misdemeanour's that can be seen, such as theft and physical violence. When it comes to linguistic malfeasance such as "the squeeze" or kick-back however, this can be seen as just a way of doing business involving no visual injury. The Japanese are good at creating things (monozukiri) since they want to be seen, imagined to be, good.

This modal -- language vs vision -- difference highlights one aspect of the origin of the myths of individualism and collectivism. It is not in fact the case that the Japanese are any more or less individualistic or collectivist, nor Westerners likewise. Both Japanese and Westerners care to an extent about real others and care more about their horrible intra psychic familiars, but in each case the horror of the familiar must be hidden.

It is only because our familiars, our imaginary friends, are horrible that they can remain hidden and continue to be familiar. Identity is a contradiction that depends upon horror, or sin, on a split that must be felt to be, but not be cognised as being. Identity or self is impossible (nothing can see or say itself) but the dream of its possibility is maintained by desire for, and abhorrence -- and resultant obfuscation -- of the duality required.

In the Western case the necessary, horrible imaginary friend is hidden *inside* the person as an interlocutor that, as inside the person, can only therefore be denied by being claimed to be part of, and one with the self. Eve, that gross "knowing" helper we have, is hidden by virtue of being thought of as just another me (see Levinas vs Derrida and "altrui"). She disappears because, as Adam Smith says, we are just splitting ourselves into two of ourselves. If there is just me and me, then there appears to be nothing disgusting going on. Westerners think, "I think to myself."

But if on the other hand the Other is external, as is required by any visual (self) cognition, there is little way of claiming that the Other is me. Spatial dualism, or rather distance, eye and surface, as required by visual cognition, becomes apparent, and undeniable. So the Japanese claim that all they are doing is being collectivist. The Japanese horrible Other is just another person, one of many other people. The Japanese hide the horror, their familiar, their imaginary friend, in the crowd.

Individualism and collectivism are myths by which means we hide Eve/Amaterasu, a part of our souls, our "helpmeets"or "paraclete" (John's term for Jesus). 

In a similar way to paradox of Japanese morality in which Japanese will not steal your wallet even if you leave it on a table at a restaurant and walk out, but may (or did) charge a kickback doubling or tripling the price, the British will be utterly polite, honest and even humorous as they sell you narcotics and destroy your country, as we did to China for 150 years. Some estimate that the enforced import of opium into China resulted in the deaths of 100 million Chinese, but at least one British academic makes jokes about it .

Paraphrasing Isaiah, those that worship the logos have a tendency to smear over their eyes so that they cannot see, and those that worship idols have a tendency to smear over their hearts so they cannot comprehend.

Bibliography (all available online)
Bird, I. L. (1880). Unbeaten Tracks in Japan: An Account of Travels in the Interior Including Visits to the Aborigines of Yezo and the Shrines of Nikkô and Isé. J. Murray.
Cocks, R., & Thompson, E. M. (2010). Diary of Richard Cocks, Cape-Merchant in the English Factory in Japan, 1615–1622: With Correspondence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Coleridge, H. J. (1872). The life and letters of St. Francis Xavier : in two volumes. Asian Educational Services.
Golovnin, V. M., Rīkord, P. Ī., & Shishkov, A. S. (1824). Memoirs of a Captivity in Japan, During the Years 1811, 1812, and 1813: With Observations on the Country and the People. H. Colburn and Company.
Liggett, L., Blair, C., & Kennison, S. (2010). Measuring gender differences in attitudes using the lost-letter technique. Journal of Scientific Psychology, 16–24. Retrieved from http://www.psyencelab.com/images/Measuring_Gender_Differences_in_Attitudes_Using_the_Lost-Letter_Technique.pdf
Milgram, S., Mann, L., & Harter, S. (n.d.). The lost-letter technique: A tool of social research. Retrieved from http://www.communicationcache.com/uploads/1/0/8/8/10887248/the_lost-letter_technique-_a_tool_of_social_research.pdf
West, M. D. (2003). Losers: recovering lost property in Japan and the United States. Law & Society Review, 37(2), 369–424. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1540-5893.3702007/full

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Self in Words and Pictures: TPT vs TST

Leuers (now Takemoto, this author) and Sonoda (1998) found that Japanese self representations using auto-photography in Twenty Photographs Test show the same sort of positivity as found American linguistic self descriptions in a Twenty Statements Test. The best thing about this specific research was that it seems to have inspired a Japanese psychotherapist, Yasuyo Mukoyama, (2010), to write a book about the use of auto-photography as new therapeutic technique -- The Auto-photographic Method -- in Japan. I highly approve. Leuers = Takémoto, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (1998, October). 心像的自己に関する比較文化的研究(1) Cross Cultural Research on the Specular Self. Oral Presentation口頭発表 presented at the The 62th Annual Convention of the Japanese Psychologiocal Association English日本心理学第64回大会, Tokyo Gakugei Daigaku. Retrieved from http://ift.tt/1BmRnQs Mukoyama, Yasuyo 向山泰代. (2010). 自叙写真法による自己認知の測定に関する研究. ナカニシヤ出版. http://flic.kr/p/sDP6X1

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Make Up Makes Japanese Feel Good

If you identify with your face as the centre of your persona (Watsuji, 2011), point at it to indicate yourself (Leuers & Sonoda, 1998), then it is not surprising that make up has a very positive effect upon how you are feeling. Moritsuchi et al. (2006) separated female subjects into two groups one of which were given a full make over
by a professional make-up artist, the other who where asked to wait. The latter group showed little change except in a decrease in liveness and increased tiredness. The former group became less stress, less depressed, less angry (less animosity), more lively, less tired, and less confused. It is not surprising that Japan women spend the most per head on cosmetics.

That this spending data has an inverse correlation with well-being says less about how happy Japanese women are, than how those that identify with their self-narrative, rather than their faces, are inclined to think positively, and prevaricate about their level of happiness.

Indeed, in the same experiment (Moritsuchi et al., 2006), the make-up condition start in a state of more negative affect, and overall (bottom graph) while those that wore make up had significantly increased psychological well-being, whereas the control group remained the same, at the same time the made up group reported themselves as less happy than the un-made up group. Bearing in mind how make-up improved their state of mind, this difference is likely to be due to the way in which focus upon improving appearance may make people less inclined to "self-enhance" -- speak bs.

Conversely, pride, or linguistic self-esteem, takes people away from the light as is suggested by the strong correlation between self-esteem (self-bs) and calorie intake and obesity.

Image from page 114-115 in (Moritsuchi et al., 2006)
Morichi, Hirose, Tanaka, and Hisayo 森地恵理子, 広瀬統, 中田悟, & 久世淳子. (2006). メイクアップの心理的効果と生体防御機能に及ぼす影響. 日本福祉大学情報社会科学論集, 9, 111–116. Retrieved from research.n-fukushi.ac.jp/ps/research/usr/db/pdfs/00074-00...
Leuers = Takémoto, T. R. S., & Sonoda, N. (1998, October). 心像的自己に関する比較文化的研究(1) Cross Cultural Research on the Specular Self. Oral Presentation口頭発表 presented at the The 62th Annual Convention of the Japanese Psychologiocal Association English日本心理学第64回大会, Tokyo Gakugei Daigaku. Retrieved from http://nihonbunka.com/docs/shinzoutekijiko1.doc
Watsuji, T. (2011). Mask and Persona. Japan Studies Review, 15, 147–155. Retrieved from asian.fiu.edu/projects-and-grants/japan-studies-review/jo...

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Make Up Raises the Tone of Japanese Women's Voice

Yogo et. al. (1990) found that as women's make-up improved from no make, normal make up to make up provided by a make-up artist, their confidence and satisfaction increased, and their anxiety decreased. This is very much to be expected in a visual soul-as-mirror rather than soul-as-narrative country like Japan. Better make-up and other visual self-presentation in Japan corresponds to better self reports among Westerners and is likely to result in improved confidence and effect.

At the same time however, the pitch of their voice increased. Or because a high pitched voice is an indicator of positive effect like laughter or a smile? Or conversely is this because they were aware that a high pitched voice is desired by others - as suggested by the high pitched voice in which shop assistants and telephone operators are required to speak - and their increased confidence and positive affect allowed them to use that other-wise unpalatable falsetto? Finally, since it is found that Japanese use tone of voice in contradistinction to linguistic content does their higher pitched voice represent a greater emphasis on tone and a further de-emphasising of self-narrative? In any event higher tone of voice, together with thicker make up probably represent a greater identification with female gender stereotypes, which are generally viewed more positively, rather than negatively, in Japan. The Japanese are members of womankind.

Yogo 余語真夫, 浜治世, 津田兼六, 鈴木ゆかり, & 互恵子. (1990). 女性の精神的健康に与える化粧の効用. 健康心理学研究, 3, 28-32.

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Westerners Lack Visual Self Consistency: Clothing and Location

Westerners Lack Visual Self Consistency: Clothing and Location

Kanagawa, Cross and Markus (2001) found that linguistic self expression depends upon social context for Japanese, but remained unchanging in the case of Americans who were equally self-enhancing whether they talked to groups, authority figures, peers, or described themselves to themselves on their own.

I have also noted that Asians may be inclined to maintain consistency in their visual self representation such as in the case of Asians who always pose in the same way, whatever the social context.

Bull and Gibson-Robinson (1981) found that the appropriate way to express oneself visually, via ones clothes, in the UK depended upon the social situation. Smartly dressed suited persons (line A) obtained more charitable donations when they visited terrace houses (place A or B), but more informal clothes (line B) obtained higher donations when asking at high rises blocks (place C) of flats. Visual self consistency is inappropriate in the UK as verbal self-consistency is inappropriate in Japan. I predict however that in Japan one formal suited kind of attire would be appropriate in all situations and obtain the most charitable donations.

Bull, R., & Gibson-Robinson, E. (1981). The influences of eye-gaze, style of dress, and locality on the amounts of money donated to a charity. Human Relations, 34(10), 895-905.
Kanagawa, C., Cross, S. E., & Markus, H. R. (2001). ‘Who am I?’ The cultural psychology of the conceptual self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(1), 90–103.

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Internal External Fashion

Oda, Hashimoto, Kashio and Dohi (2003) based upon the theoretical distinction of Hashimoto and Kashio (2003) found that overall Japanese (or at least Japanese mothers) dress up for internal reasons rather than to impress others.

Quoting Yamabe(1993: See Hashimoto and Kashio), Yashimoto and Kashio note that dressing up or primping (oshare) has generally been studied from the perspective of outward appearance, but is in fact also an expression of identity. Hashimoto and Kashio (2003) went on to develop an internal and external dressing up questionnaire and found that the internal aspect of dressing up for oneself is more important than the extrinsic motivation to dress up for others overall, especially in older Japanese.

This is hardly surprising given that the Japanese are especially capable of and chronically inclined to autoscopy through the use of simulated intra-psychic other. Since the Japanese dress up for themselves, for a simulated self-directed gaze rather than real gaze, they pay more attention to underwear. Real others can not see underwear, but a simulated gaze can see inside things, as the Japanese are found to be able to do.

Strangely however, attention to underwear is an item on the both the internal and external motivation to dress up questionnaire, where wearing underwear that does not affect ones outer wear correlates with intrinsically motivated primping but paying attention to the visual design (デザイン) of ones underwear correlates with extrinsically motivated primping.

This implies, rather surprisingly to me, that Japanese wear visually designed underwear, that is popular in Japan, to show to others.

I have translated Hashimoto and Kashio's (2003) questionnaire as the Intrinsics and Extrinsic Primping Questionnaire which is available for download here, or in Japanese at their links below.

橋本幸子 ・柏尾眞津子;日 本社会心理学会第
44会 大会発表論文集,(2003) Retrieved 2015/5/26 www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP1208780887.pdf
尾田貴子, 橋本幸子, 柏尾眞津子, & 土肥伊都子. (2003). おしゃれの二面性に関する研究-被服・化粧行動, 心理的健康との関連. 繊維製品消費科学会誌, 44(11), 700-709. Retrieved 2015/5/26 from www.bunken.org/jssp/conf_archive/paper_download.php?s=200...

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015



松尾芭蕉が訪れた観光地の一つで、見るものと言えば、この石です。見るものはこの石以外に何もないですが、言われはもろにあります。玉藻の前(「たまものまえ」という狐?魔女?)の命が宿って、人を死亡させることができ、能のロケ地にもなっています。 日本人は言葉・名前・言われのために移動し、観ることは名所図会・ガイドブック・「外国村」、あるいは想像力で想起できるために移動する必要はありません。言葉は外にあり、場合には遠くにあります。遠くに行って観ることは重要である場合がありますが、その重要性は内なる影像と名所の実像との間のズレの確認のためのようです。 殺生石について http://ift.tt/1He6duN http://flic.kr/p/sUTQZk

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Doctor Willis on the Arrogance of the British

Doctor Willis on the Arrogance of the British
[Ernest Mason} "Satow's friend Dr. Willis, was critical of the arrogance of his fellow countrymen towards the Japanese.

A small foreign official will abuse a Japanese officer of equal rank with our Under-Secretary of State in a manner that, if it were countryman, he would be the laws the country either have to kill him, or kill himself. We bully and beat the lower orders, and respect in no way the higher classes. A great deal of this is common to all foreigners, but we especially sow the seeds of discord and dislike. The Japanese better classes grow quite alarmed t our customs, they fear they will lose all hold on their poorer countrymen, and though some Japanese may like you individually they hate your country. To the proud Japanese it must be painful to see the air of superiority the commonest foreigner assumes in his presence, and I have great doubt whether Brown or Japanese or Robertson would not go full gallop through a procession with the Tycoon at one end ad the Mikado at the other if sad experience [Namamugi Incident] had not proved the danger of such an experiment. We may disguise it as we like, we are a set of tyrants from the moment we set foot on Eastern soil and we cannot help it, it is I fear inherent in the nature of things, the less civilized man must suffer in the ratio of his ignorance by intercourse with his more intelligent brothers. "(Cortazzi, 2013, p.61)

I am not entirely sure to whom in the last clause the good doctor refers to. I hope, and believe, he is suggesting that the British were ignorant and uncivilised compared to the Japanese and "suffered" in the sense of being tyrants, insufferable.

Cortazzi, H. (2013). Victorians in Japan: In and around the Treaty Ports. A&C Black.

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Big Ben: Japanese boasting and sex

Big Ben: Japanese boasting and sex

Linguistic self-enhancement has generally been considered to be rather disgusting in Japan, or at least something that the Japanese have avoided. In my experience, and in historical accounts of Western impressions of Japan, boastfulness is almost completely, and notably, absent.

One of the few accounts of Japanese boastfulness is that of a highly Westernised scholar of things Western (rangakusha). After several months in captivity in Japan, the Russian spy Vasiliĭ Mikhaĭlovich Golovin remarked in 1811 that the Japanese geometrician and astronomer, Mamia Rinso (Mamiya Rinzo) "manifested his pride, however, by constant boasting of the deeds he had performed, and the labours he had endured." (Golovin, 1824, p284) but further that, "I must here remark, that this was the first Japanese ventured, in our presence, to swagger and assume // importance on account of his military skill, and his vapouring made not only us but even his own countrymen sometimes laugh at him. " (Golovin, 1824, pp. 285-286). In other words, the only Japanese person to boast, in Golovin's experience, was one who had been influenced by Western culture.

I have found two other records of instances of boastfulness in Japan in the pre-twentieth century historical record and both of them relate to sex.

"One old couple, who kept one of these shops, we were on intimate terms with; that is to say, we seldom passed without a few words to them. One day, seeing the old woman by herself, we asked her wherever husband was, and were told that she supposed 'he was after the girls', after which she laughed, as if delighted at the idea of having such a gay old dog for a spouse...
The next time we visited the shop, we rallied the old fellow on being such a gay Lothario; be he did not seem as proud of the reputation as his wife was, and indignantly declared the aspersion cast on him to be totally without foundation. We were half inclined to believe him, and even now think that the old woman's statement may have only been a vainglorious boast"(Cortazzi, 2013,, p67)

Edward de Fonblanque writes, in 1860, of another rare instance Japanese boastfulness, which is also sexual.

"Nor were business wants alone consulted, for the Government had considerately provide a magnificent building, all lacquer and caving and delicate painting, in which the Tojin [Foreigner] might pass their leisure hours in the company of painted musume [literally daughter, but the meaning her is girl], dressed in gorgeous robes, and coifées in the most wonderful manner.
I visited the Gankiro, taking the precaution to go there in broad day, and for my character's sake, in good company, and was a little startled at the systematic way in which the authorities conduct this establishment. Two officers showed us over the building, and pointed out its beauties which as much pride as if they were exhibiting an ancient temple sacred to their dearest gods. This was the court-yard; that was to be a fish-pond with fountains (the building was still incomplete at this time); in this room refreshments might be procured -that was the theatre; those little nooks into which you entered by a slide panel in the wall were dormitories, encumbered with no unnecessary furniture, there, affixed to the walls, was the tariff of charges, which I leave to the imagination; and in that house, across the court, seated in rows on the verandah, were the moosmes themselves. We were invited to step over for its was only under male escort that they might enter the main building? My curiosity had, however, been sufficiently gratified and I departed, quite ready to believe in anything that might hear as to the morals of the Japanese. (Cortazzi, 2013, p274.)

The Japanese are perhaps similarly reserved towards boastfulness and sexuality. Japanese humour, unlike that of the British, rarely revolves around innuendo. But in my experience (and research on the latter), both sexuality and boastfulness do appear when the Japanese have been drinking.

For example when attending a party with some Japanese sports persons, I found myself invited to drink at a table of similarly inebriated Japanese. It was late in the day, we had all had a few glasses of sake. One gentleman asked mischievously "So you are English? (omitting the subject and particles) England has Big Ben doesn't it? / You have a big ben don't you?" (イギリス人ですか。*ビッグ・ベン*はありますよね?). I think my host repeat "big ben", nodding in a conspiratorial way for emphasis. This was a very rare case of innuendo and inviting the opportunity to boast, once again on a sexual topic, which from a Japanese perspective may regarded, with some disdain - but at times enjoyment - to be of similar ilk.

Is there any inherent connection between linguistic self-enhancement and sex? Or on the contrary between visual self-enhancement and the storge appreciation of cuteness? Some theoreticians of language, its origins and merits suggest that it may have something do with peacocking. Derrida argues that linguistic thought, as self addressed love letter, is like onanism. One of the characteristics of linguistic as opposed to visual self-enhancement is that it takes places inside rather than outside the head. While linguistic self love becomes silent, ashamed, and interior (see Vigotsky on self-speech and the way it becomes hidden) visual self-love always presupposes an exterior, viewer. Does the interiority of self-serving interior dialogue, knowing oneself via ones self-narrative, imply or promote a sexual "autoaffection"? I tend to think so.

I think I told my hosts that I had not seen Big Ben. Lame!

Image of Big Ben from Wikimedia
Cortazzi, H. (2013). Victorians in Japan: In and around the Treaty Ports. A&C Black.
Golovnin, V. M., Rīkord, P. Ī., & Shishkov, A. S. (1824). Memoirs of a Captivity in Japan, During the Years 1811, 1812, and 1813: With Observations on the Country and the People. H. Colburn and Company.

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Richard Cocks (1566–1624)

Much is known about the "the first English man in Japan" William Adams of Gillingham, Kent, who was to become Miura Anjin and the basis for the novel Shogun. Richard Cocks, from Staffordshire, arrived in Japan about a decade after Adams and remains in relative obscurity. Cocks stayed in Japan ten years, tried and failed to set up a traiding "factory," to rival the Dutch, and died on the way back to England in discrace, to be buried at sea, "under a discharge of ordinance." His diary of his life in Japan can be read for free online. http://flic.kr/p/tc66sd

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Summer and Winter Costume

Isabella Bird (1880) notes that the strangest thing about Japan or perhaps the strangest sight of her life (last quote) is that in summer Japanese men went around mainly in their loin-cloths (which she calls "maro") or sometimes nothing at all. "The houses are very poor, the summer costume of the men consists of the maro (fundoshi) only. "p. 245 "As far as I could see across the slush, there were wheels at work, up which copper-skinned men, naked, except for the maro or loin-cloth, were industriously climbing." p.85 "You see the father who wears nothing but a maro in the bosom of his family. " p.139 "Few of the men wore anything but the maro"p. 187 "The men may be said to wear nothing" p.150 "Do you remember a sentence in Dr. Macgregor's last sermon? "hat strange sights some of you will see!" Could there be a strange onr that a decent-looking middle aged man, lying on his chest in the verandah, raised on his elbows, and intently reading a book, clothed only in a pair of spectacles. "p.128 Bird, I. L. (1880). Unbeaten Tracks in Japan: An Account of Travels in the Interior Including Visits to the Aborigines of Yezo and the Shrines of Nikkô and Isé. J. Murray. Bird, I. L. (1880). Unbeaten Tracks in Japan: An Account of Travels in the Interior Including Visits to the Aborigines of Yezo and the Shrines of Nikkô and Isé. J. Murray. http://flic.kr/p/sfwakV

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Intimacy and Individuation

いくつかのレベルによる親密さの概念 Figure 1 大坊, 2004, p1. 我々は他者と関係を築き、環境的な相互作用を継続することによって、他者を含めた社会環境において生活することを目指している。このような社会的な関係の要件として、まず他者の存在と、その対人行動がある。この場合の他者は、その当該者の個別的な特徴を反映するだけではなく、働きかける「自己」の行動を映し出す鏡映像となるのもである。この意味するところは、他者の反応である鏡映像によって自分の行動の正当性や自分のいる社会的脈路を知ることができることになる。(大坊, 2004, p1) "We strive to lead our lives in a social environment including others through on going environmental interaction and the formation of relationships with others. The existence of others, and our behaviour toward them is a condition of this sort of social relationship. In this situation others do not only reflect the individual characteristics of the actor but also act as a mirror image of the active self. This means that we are able to know the propriety of our actions and our social contexts, via the reactions of others as mirror image of self. " (Daibou, 20014, p1, Takemoto translation) いつものように、大坊(20014,p1)日本人の自己の他者は他人と論じているが、まず、この他者が「鏡映像」という視覚的なものあることを意識しているようである。一方、大坊先生は、日本人は自分自身を見ることができる。日本人は自分を他人の立場から見ることができる(Cohen & Gunz, 2002; Heine, Takemoto, Moskalenko, Lasaleta, & Henrich, 2008)ということを意識していないようだ。 As always, Professor Daibou too argues that the other that reflects the Japanese self is other people. But firstly he appears to be aware that this other is visual - a mirror image. He does not seem to be aware that the Japanese can see themselves,from the view point of others(Cohen & Gunz, 2002; Heine, Takemoto, Moskalenko, Lasaleta, & Henrich, 2008). If this were not the case, there would be no Individual level in the top part of this graph. Perhaps like Sam Harris, the Japanese are such materialists that they are unaware that matter, and individuality, is an emergent property of dyads or that this diagram needs to be reversed and turned upside down. In the beginning there was not one. The not one dyad has two eyes and no mouth and is rather cute. Bibliography Cohen, D., & Gunz, A. (2002). As seen by the other...: perspectives on the self in the memories and emotional perceptions of Easterners and Westerners. Psychological Science, 13(1), 55–59. Retrieved from http://ift.tt/1H2i1zZ 大坊郁夫. (2004). 親密な関係を映す対人コミュニケーション. 対人社会心理学研究, 4, 1–10. Retrieved from http://ift.tt/1H2i2UA 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 http://ift.tt/1PhAd2i http://flic.kr/p/rQGopK

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