The Evolution of the Japanese Ego: Part I 

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Michael Hoffman writes: When Adam and Eve defied God, creator and master of the universe, and ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge, what did they learn? To say “I.”

They learned that they were “naked” — they were selves, egos. As such, there was no place for them in paradise. Their expulsion was “the fall of man,” narrated in the biblical Book of Genesis.

This seems a long way from Japan. It is. Japanese myth records no “fall,” no defiance of the undefiable, no primeval descent into selfhood. The Japanese ego evolved very differently from the Western one.

This is the introductory installment of a four-part series examining what the Japanese mean when they say “I.”

A peculiarity of the Japanese language gives it many first-person pronouns, varying with circumstances, rank, age and gender, but comparatively few occasions to use them. Japanese often leaves sentence subjects
unspoken. You can speak of yourself without emphasizing and reinforcing, as Western languages force you to do, your “I-ness.”

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Japanese tradition denigrates not only selfishness but selfhood. To Buddhism it was a delusion; to Confucianism, an object of “self-cultivation” whose ultimate object is self-denying, society-dedicated “benevolence.” Bushido, the “way of the warrior,” was especially hard on the self. “The way of the warrior is death,” declared the grim 18th-century military treatise known as the “Hagakure.” “This means choosing death whenever there is a choice between life and death.” The self that instinctively protests51e9jgsshl-_sl250_ its death sentence must be rigorously suppressed: “Every day without fail one should consider oneself as dead.”

[Check out Michael Hoffman’s book, “In The Land of the Kami: A Journey Into The Hearts of Japan at Amazon.com]

The first “I” in Japanese literature is identifiable but not nameable — her name is unknown. A noblewoman and poetess, she lived in 10th-century Kyoto and left posterity a diary — the “Kagero Nikki” (“Gossamer Diary”). It’s a brilliant portrait of a soul in torment. Her “I” is her suffering; her suffering forces her into the black hole of selfhood. Hers is no plea for individualism; if anything she pleads for release from it. She would be anyone other than herself, if only she could. Other people were like other people; only she was different, condemned to the morbid isolation of selfhood by an insufficiently attentive husband and the perversity (which she admits) of her own feelings. Sharing a husband was gall to her. Polygamy among the aristocracy was the norm. Other noblewomen resigned themselves to it, more or less graciously. Why couldn’t she? Why did she alone torture herself over slights and neglect that others shrugged off? Because she was she. She wanted a husband “30 days and 30 nights a month,” and, knowing she demanded the impossible, refused to settle for less. “If only the Buddha would let me be reborn in Enlightenment,” she prays. In other words: If only the Buddha would release me from the agony of selfhood. It never happens.

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Between the long peace of her time and the long peace of the Edo Period (1603-1868) stand 500 years of war — civil war, mostly — in which bushido prevailed. Life was nothing, death everything, the self a mere sacrifice to be laid on the altar of loyalty. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Fascinating 3D-Printed Light-Based Zoetrope by Akinori Goto 

Media artist Akinori Goto designed this fun 3d-printed zoetrope that when lit from the side reveals walking people. The piece was just on view at the Spiral Independent Creators Festival where it won both the Runner-up Grand Prix and the Audience Award. Video above from Tokyo Art Beat. (via Prosthetic Knowledge)

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sculpt-1 Read the rest of this entry »


Japanese Women See Aspirational Qualities in ‘De Facto First Lady’ Ivanka Trump

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Ayako Mie reports: Miyu Toyonaga was thrilled when she discovered who had visited her Instagram account last April. It was Ivanka Trump, her fashion icon, and she had liked a photo of Toyonaga with a leather clutch purse from Ivanka’s namesake brand.

“In a way I aspire to be like her. I would like to keep working even after I have a baby and have the option of living overseas.”

— 2012 Miss World Supermodel Japan

The 32-year-old Toyonaga, who works at the Tokyo office of an Australian commercial real estate firm, said she was struck by the elegant style and successful career of the model-turned-business executive when she first saw her Instagram pictures two or three years ago.

“In a way I aspire to be like her,” said the 2012 Miss World Supermodel Japan, who is preparing to set up a fashion e-commerce site like Ivanka. “I would like to keep working even after I have a baby and have the option of living overseas.”

Toyonaga’s views are unlikely to be embraced by those Americans still depressed about the stunning victory of her father, Donald Trump, in the U.S. presidential election in November.

Less than two weeks before he takes office, Ivanka has come under fire for her political ambitions and influence over the president-elect.

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“It goes without saying that she is very beautiful. But at the same time, she is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting…men too much. That is something that Japanese women want but have a hard time doing in a still male-dominated society.”

–Shinzato, who has been introducing Ivanka’s fashion and overall lifestyle on her blog and an online publication called 4yuuu!

Donald Trump’s favorite child is also rumored to be replacing her media-shy stepmother, Melania, as a de facto first lady, as the former Slovenian fashion model stays in New York while her husband moves into the White House this month.

But some 10,800 km away from her glamorous Upper East Side apartment, Ivanka might find more supporters like Toyonaga.

[read the full story here, at The Japan Times]

For some Japanese women who struggle to juggle demanding jobs as working professionals, mothers and wives, America’s next “first daughter” might offer her own “Ivanka-ism” or post-feminist wisdom on how to survive in a male-oriented society.

The suave fashion entrepreneur appears to have mastered a successful career and picture-perfect family life with a millionaire husband and three children, without launching an all-out feminist war against what her father represents — a white, male-dominated, capitalist system.

Yuriko Shinzato, 32, a freelance writer and mother of a 6-year-old girl, said she believed Ivanka was the opposite of failed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who has often antagonized men in her efforts to climb the corporate and political ladder.

It was clear from her Instagram pictures, Shinzato said, that Instagram-savvy Ivanka marketed her image as a daughter, wife and mother, while finding success in her career.

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“It goes without saying that she is very beautiful,” said Shinzato, who has been introducing Ivanka’s fashion and overall lifestyle on her blog and an online publication called 4yuuu!

“But at the same time, she is a good example that a woman can do an outstanding job and handle a misogynist father like Trump, without pushing too much of a feminist agenda or confronting . . . men too much.

“That is something that Japanese women want but have a hard time doing in a still male-dominated society.”

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Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for tapping more female talent, the environment for female working professionals has not improved significantly in Japan.

There remains a massive shortage of nurseries, and incidents of pregnant women being harassed in the workplace still surface. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Marines Send F-35 Stealth Fighter Squadron to Japan 

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It marks the first time for that stealth aircraft to be stationed overseas.

The US Marine Corps said it has sent a squadron of F-35B fighter jets to Japan, marking the first operational overseas deployment for the controversial aircraft that is under scrutiny from president-elect Donald Trump.

The deployment of the 10 planes to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni on Honshu Island marks a major milestone for the F-35, which has been bedeviled by technical glitches and soaring cost overruns.

With a current development and acquisition price tag already at $379 billion for a total of 2,443 F-35 aircraft, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is the most expensive plane in history, and costs are set to go higher still.

The Marines’s version of the plane, known as the F-35B, is capable of conducting short takeoffs and vertical landings.

Trump last month sent shockwaves through the aerospace industry when he tweeted that he wanted rival Boeing to price out a possible alternative.

“Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” Trump tweeted December 22.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet does not have stealth capabilities and has been in use since the late 1990s.

Once servicing, maintenance and other costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft’s lifespan through 2070, overall program costs have been projected to rise to as much as $1.5 trillion.

Proponents of the F-35 tout its speed, close air-support capabilities, airborne agility and a massive array of sensors giving pilots unparalleled access to information. Read the rest of this entry »


Trump Taps Vax Alarmist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Launch Review of Vaccines

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Vaccination skeptic alarmist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he will oversee a presidential panel to review vaccine safety and science at the request of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, in a move likely to reignite debate over now-debunked research that tied childhood immunizations to autism.

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“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policy, and he has questions about it,” Kennedy, who has raised questions about the safety of vaccines, told reporters following a meeting with Trump in New York on Tuesday. “He asked me to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. I said I would.”

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Vaccine experts decried the appointment of a vocal vaccine skeptic to explore the safety of vaccines and their purported link with autism, an association raised by a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 that vaxxclaimed to find a connection between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

That paper has been debunked, and The Lancet withdrew the study. Since then, numerous studies have affirmed the safety of the vaccine, most recently including a study of 100,000 children considered at high risk of developing autism.

“The concerns of public health officials and pediatricians and family doctors regarding the Trump administration and its attitude toward vaccines have just been reinforced,” said Dr. William Schaffner an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who advises the federal panel that sets U.S. vaccine policy.

Schaffner said Kennedy has “raised issues that have been settled securely and completely by good science, and 80,0000 pediatricians, many family doctors and the World Health Organization all reinforce the current recommended childhood immunization schedule. They are safe and they are effective.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Akira Kurosawa’s Advice to Aspiring Filmmakers

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Japan’s ‘Genderless’ Blurring the Lines Between Pink and Blue

 


[VIDEO] History of Japan 

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Imagine consuming nitrous oxide, helium, and cocaine, then explaining Japanese history. What’s not to like? A funny video that compresses a lot of information into an entertaining, easy-to-unpack container.

 


[VIDEO] Akira Kurosawa: Composing Movement 

Can movement tell a story? Sure, if you’re as gifted as Akira Kurosawa. More than any other filmmaker, he had an innate understanding of movement and how to capture it onscreen. Join me today in studying the master, possibly the greatest composer of motion in film history.

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Interview Clips:
Sidney Lumet on RANhttp://bit.ly/1B7mfTD
Robert Altman on RASHOMONhttp://bit.ly/1BDuvL7
Paul Verhoeven on Kurosawa: http://bit.ly/197vwnS


China Criticizes Abe’s Pearl Harbor Visit 

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BEIJING/SEOUL (Jiji Press) — China on Wednesday criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii for his lack of deep reflection on the country’s past.

Noting that Japan waged a war of aggression against China and other Asian countries, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press conference, “Reconciliation between the inflicters and victims must and can only be based upon sincere reflection and apology from the inflicters.” This is the only way to realize “a genuine and lasting reconciliation,” she said. For victimized countries in Asia, “one sincere apology” is more important than “dozens of smart shows,” Hua said.

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The People’s Daily newspaper of the Communist Party of China said in its Wednesday edition that the Pearl Harbor visit is criticized both in Japan and the United States because Abe made the trip before apologizing to war victims in Asian countries that Japan invaded during the war.

Meanwhile, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official, touching on Abe’s pledge never to wage war again in the speech, said that Japan, based on a correct understanding of history, should strive further to promote reconciliation and cooperation with neighbors that fell victim to its wartime militarism. Read the rest of this entry »


Russian Military Buildup on Disputed Isles Clouds Resolution of Row with Tokyo

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 reports: Even though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed their recent agreement on joint economic activities on four disputed islands off Hokkaido is a step toward resolving the territorial row, the islands’ strategic importance for Russia is likely to continue complicating the decades-old issue.

Even if the agreed economic cooperation chiefly in the Russian Far East makes headway, the strategic importance of the Russian-held islands, claimed by Japan, bodes ill for Tokyo in its efforts to regain them, especially given the advance of China in the Arctic region and Russia’s need to maintain its nuclear deterrence, according to some analysts.

Japan claims that Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group are an integral part of its territory and were illegally seized by the Soviet Union after Japan’s surrender in World War II in August 1945. Russia maintains the Soviet Union took the islands legitimately as the spoils of war.

Russia has been modernizing its military on the islands, which delineate the southern edge of the Sea of Okhotsk where Russian nuclear submarines are deployed. Read the rest of this entry »


Colonel Sanders Gets a Needed Makeover to Bring Him into 2017

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RocketNews24

Is the change a welcome eyeful? Or is this a case of too much too soon? You be the judge.

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[VIDEO] Tokyo Comic Con 2016 変態東京コミコン「グラビアポーズしてください!」

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Tokyo Comic-Con Bans, Then Un-Bans, Men From Cosplaying As Women Characters 

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Brian Ashcraft reports: This December, the Tokyo Comic-Con kicks off. The event should be similar to its San Diego counterpart, attracting celebrity guests and hordes of cosplayers. However, at the Tokyo event, there’s a significant difference: Men cannot cosplay in women’s clothing.

Update – October 27 5:00am: The Tokyo Comic-Con has reversed its ban on male cosplayers dressing as female characters.

As Anime News Network points out, the official site clearly states such under the “regarding cosplay outfits” section, writing that is “prohibited” for men to wear female clothing (男性による女装は禁止です). The ban uses the Japanese word “jyosou” (女装), a word which is defined as “wearing female clothing” and which has the explicit nuance of referring to men wearing women’s clothing. Read the rest of this entry »


Abe Visits Military Cemetery in Hawaii 

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HONOLULU — Hiroshi Tajima and Mai Fukuda report: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid flowers for American soldiers, including those killed in Japan’s 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, at a cemetery in Hawaii on Monday, the day before his scheduled visit to the harbor with U.S. President Barack Obama.

After arriving on the island of Oahu in the morning, Abe visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in which remains of about 50,000 officers and soldiers — including those who lost their lives during the attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy — are buried.

The prime minister offered flowers and a moment of silence, before signing his name in a visitors’ book.

At the facility, Abe also laid flowers at the grave of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who had worked hard to promote the U.S.-Japan relationship until his death in December 2012.

The prime minister then visited a Japanese cemetery in Honolulu’s Makiki district, which houses a memorial for Japanese emigrants to Hawaii and soldiers killed at Pearl Harbor.

Abe showed his determination not to fight a war again by praying for both Japanese and American war dead. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan: Annual Births Set to Fall Below One Million for the First Time 

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The annual number of births in the country dipped below one million during 2016 for the first time since records became available, an estimate by the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry shows.

The number stands at 981,000, the lowest since 1899, according to the demographic statistic estimate released Thursday.

The ministry’s analysis showed the number of women in the age group of those giving birth is decreasing. The government is expected to urgently take further measures to address the declining birthrate.

The annual estimate shows that the number of people who died stands at 1.296 million, which is 6,000 more than last year. The number of deaths is thus expected to exceed that of births for 10 consecutive years. The gap, or the natural decrease in the population, is expected to hit a record high of 315,000.

The number of births has been declining since peaking at more than 2 million during the second baby boom from 1971 to 1974.

When the total fertility rate for 1989 hit a record low of 1.57, the situation was called the “1.57 shock” because the figure was even lower than in 1966 — a year in which giving birth was generally avoided in Japan due to a superstition. After that, measures to address the declining birthrate started being considered as important. Read the rest of this entry »


Comics: Fujiko Exhibition Focuses on Manufacturing in Manga

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The Fujiko F. Fujio Hometown Art Gallery in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture, is celebrating its first anniversary with an exhibition on the theme of manufacturing in manga by Fujiko F. Fujio (1933-96).

Fujiko, who came from Takaoka, is known as the creator of “Doraemon” and other manga. The gallery introduces his life and work.

The ongoing commemorative exhibition, titled “Gengaten: Kiteretsu Daihyakka to Monozukuri,” features scenes from his manga showing characters making things. Takaoka is known as a city of manufacturing — hence the theme.

Many of Fujiko’s original drawings on display come from “Kiteretsu Daihyakka” (Kiteretsu encyclopedia), the central character of which loves to tinker with anything mechanical. There are pages from other works by Fujiko as well, including “Doraemon” and “Tebukuro Tetchan.”

The 30 original drawings currently on display will be changed twice during the exhibition, in April and August. In all, 90 original works from the Fujiko collection will be displayed in the exhibition, which will continue through the end of November next year.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] iSpace: One Giant Leap for Japan 

Japan is leaping into space resources, agreeing to work with a robotic-exploration company to create a blueprint for an industry to extract resources from the moon that would enable more extensive space exploration.

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