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Old 02-18-2011, 02:35 AM   #17
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,088
Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 19

Hello Carl,

Many thanks for your response. As usual, I have a few comments.

Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
Good morning Professor

I was actually in Hiroshima just over a week ago on a business trip, although I didn't make it into any bookshops. However, I have no problem believing your account as the situation you describe seems pretty common to me right across Japan. Also, I regret that I did not have time to trouble you with a request to visit your dojo, but my three days did not coincide with the training schedule on your website. In any case I was also very busy helping take care of around a hundred students.
PAG. The two most recent visits from Aikiweb members did not involve aikido training. Instead we had dinner in a restaurant.

Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
"PAG. I think it is difficult to make such a broad judgment. In Hiroshima, for example, there are several quite distinct foreign groups, with different needs. Nevertheless, all the ‘foreign' books are stacked together, they are all in English and, as I stated, are all about Japan. (This is Maruzen's store in central Hiroshima. The Junkudo store near the station has a larger selection of English-language books, especially fiction, but the proportion of books on Japan is large.)"

Here you are also talking about long term residents, who should in theory, know Japanese and do not necessarily know English.
PAG. It is still hard to generalize. At one end of the spectrum are the 在日 residents who are native Japanese, except for their nationality. For them English might play the same role as it does for Japanese nationals. At the other end are the tourists who come to visit the A-Bomb museum and Miyajima and then go home again. In the middle are various groups, like expatriate employees at Mazda, on limited contracts, or English-language teachers, also on contracts. Not all of these will stay long enough to make it worth their while to undertake a long-term commitment to the Japanese language.

Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
Rightly or wrongly, Japan and other countries tend to use English as the common lingua franca (although I've seen Portuguese for foreign residents when I lived in Hamamatsu) so for this post I would like to return to this section of the original article:

"In the English-language section it is as if no other country in the world is of such interest to the foreigners who visit as Japan."

When I first visited Japan, just buying a vacuum-cleaner bag proved to be a major linguistic and cultural adventure despite my limited study of the language and customs before I came: I think I actually asked for a kaban (satchel-type bag) for my shojiki ("honesty" instead of sojiki meaning vacuum cleaner). In contrast other British guys going to the Netherlands get tied to lampposts, wear mankinis or do other crazy things on stag nights in much the same way they would back home and I'd imagine they'd have a much easier time buying vacuum-cleaner bags if so inclined. I think the demand from English readers in Japan is different from English readers in the Netherlands, not least because as you mentioned, the locals are included in that category. This is just an opinion though.
PAG. Did you find out the word for vacuum cleaner bags by going to the English-language section of the local bookstore? It is not clear to me whether you are referring to tourists or longer term residents, who have visas and alien registration cards. I suppose Brits in the Netherlands on stag nights could fall into either category, but I assumed you were referring to UK tourists on short-term visits. My English expatriate friends in Haarlem seem to me to have similar demands (as English readers) as my expatriate friends here in Hiroshima.

Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
If you think this part of your article is important as evidence of something, I think you could back it up with statistics pretty easily.

If indeed these articles will make it into a book, I think this kind of evidence, with this kind of backup, would help make the distinction between what could merely look like a long section of complaint alleging Japanese chauvinism in the Hombu and a more convincing critique of a social situation in Japan which could affect aikido.
PAG. As I mentioned in my response to Josh Reyer, I do have very detailed statistics on foreign residents of Hiroshima City and Hiroshima Prefecture (who have alien registration cards) and I also suspect that the results of surveys already carried out might well provide stronger evidence for the attitudes displayed in nihonjinron than the English-language sections of Japanese bookstores. I have not examined these results with this in mind.

As I stated somewhere in the column, I thought it best to follow Aristotle and start out with the ‘appearances' of nihonjinron, and then consider if these are genuine and evidence of something important. The All-Japan demonstration is one example of such, relevant to aikido.

Best wishes,


P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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