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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.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Japanese Bragging: Self-Verification

The Japanese very rarely brag (Heine, Lehman, Markus, & Kitayama, 1999), linguistically at least (Leuers = Takemoto & Sonoda, 1999). On the other hand the Japanese are "haughty" in their manner, posture and attire (Busk, 1841; Coleridge, 1872; Cortazzi, 2013; Golovnin & Shishkov, 1819; Krusenstern & Kruzenshtern, 1813). The Japanese eschew vocalising their superiority, which is left for others to do for them in flattery which, though void of linguistic meaning, as a form of obeisance is rife (Takemoto, in preparation).

Kōdayū (pictured above) spent 11 years in Russia as a castaway at a time when Japan was closed to the rest of the world. He returned full of "Western learning," and no doubt somewhat Westernised in manner, to obtain an audience with the shogun, the top man in Japan, about which Donald Keene writes,

"The shogun's questions were asked at random, and suggests that he was more interested in displaying his own knowledge of Russian than in learning new things from Kōdayū. The interrogation sometimes took the form: "There is a great clock in the castle tower of Moscow. Have you seen it?" Similar enquiries about the statue of Peter the Great and a famous Muscovian cannon were followed by, "Have you ever seen a camel?" (Keene, 1952, p.55)

The Japanese are not perfect. Looking, but not listening, with mother they expect to see those around them fawn and pay lip-service. Keene takes the shogun to task. I think that Kōdayū failed to flatter. Faced with such an ill-mannered subject the shogun had no choice but to ask rhetorical, self-answering questions for the purpose of self verification which is probably pan-cultural (Seih, Buhrmester, Lin, Huang, & Swann Jr., 2013) da yo ne?

Busk, M. M. (1841). Manners and Customs of the Japanese, in the Nineteenth Century: From Recent Dutch Visitors of Japan, and the German of Dr. Ph. Fr. Von Siebold. John Murray, Albemarle Street.
Coleridge, H. J. (1872). The life and letters of St. Francis Xavier : in two volumes. Asian Educational Services.
Cortazzi, H. (2013). Victorians in Japan: In and around the Treaty Ports. A&C Black.
Golovnin, V. M., & Shishkov, A. S. (1819). Recollections of Japan: Comprising a Particular Account of the Religion : Language : Government : Laws and Manners of the People : with Observations on the Geography : Climate : Population and Productions of the Country : to which are Pre-fixed Chronological Details of the Rise : Decline : and Renewal of British Commercial Intercourse with that Country.
Heine, S., Lehman, D., Markus, H., & Kitayama, S. (1999). Is there a universal need for positive self-regard?. Psychological Review. Retrieved from humancond.org/_media/papers/heine99_universal_positive_re...
Keene, D. (1952). The Japanese Discovery of Europe: Honda Toshiaki and Other Discoverers, 1720-1798. Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Krusenstern, A. J. von, & Kruzenshtern, I. F. (1813). Voyage Round the World, in the Years 1803, 1804, 1805, & 1806. C. Roworth.
Leuers = Takemoto, T., & Sonoda, N. (1999). The eye of the other and the independent self of the Japanese. In Symposium presentation at the 3rd Conference of the Asian Association of Social Psychology, Taipei, Taiwan. Retrieved from nihonbunka.com/docs/aasp99.htm
Seih, Y.-T., Buhrmester, M. D., Lin, Y.-C., Huang, C.-L., & Swann Jr., W. B. (2013). Do people want to be flattered or understood? The cross-cultural universality of self-verification. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(1), 169–172. doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2012.09.004

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