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Old 02-15-2011, 03:07 PM   #3
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
Location: State Line NJ/NY
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 632
Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 19

Dear Peter,

Fate smiled and it has been a slow enough day for me to give this attention on publication, attention which has been richly rewarded. Thank you very much!

It may simply be the mark of my own current obsession, but I believe the most significant intellectual missing link between the period of the "black box of the Emperor system" and the later resurgencen of nihonjinron to be the work of Yanagita Kunio, who was mentioned in passing in TIE 15.

His emphasis on orality (at the expense of text), his early insistence that Japanese folklore studies could only be fully successful if carried out by Japanese researchers, his life-long effort to construct, through the evidence brought forward by minzokugaku research -- essentially, an army of informants providing material for Yanagita's "inductive" editorial reconstruction -- in order to construct a nationally shared Japanese identity, his own links back to Atsutane, Norinaga, and the other early kokugaku scholars, and the influence of his final work Kaijō no Michi (海上の道), which traced the origin of rice cultivation to Okinawa, but also put forward a theory of Japanese culture as one of cooperation rooted in the communal obligations of rice farming, are all of a piece with tropes you have identified in earlier kokugaku and more recent nihonjinron.

In terms of timing, the 1961 appearance of Kaijō no Michi is arguably key, to the extent that it was the theoretical capstone of his career, appearing just as Japan was preparing for its post-War international debut as host of the Olympic Games in 1964 and as the Japanese economy really began to take off.

Interestingly, although Yanagita had resigned-- in frustration at the direction governance was taking -- from successive posts in the Ministry of Agriculture, the House of Peers, and the Foreign Ministry, and wrote for a time for the Asahi Shimbun in the late Twenties, he spent the rest of his life as part of an "intellectual elite" producing both methods and conclusions that tended to support the core conceits of kokutai and nihonjinron.

Perhaps, in this, he illustrates the dangers of intelligence in the service of sentiment, unchecked by oppositional logic.

In any case, many thanks for this entry, those that have gone before, and the delightful sense of anticipation of the next installment, now returned!



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