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Old 10-24-2013, 09:26 AM   #75
Dojo: Seishinkan Dojo
Location: Copenhagen
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 111
Re: Can you truly understand budo without training in Japan?

Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
Japan, like all countries, contains a huge variety of opinion, though in Japan, most people keep their opinions to themselves out of fear of creating social upset. There are Japanese who believe that anything Japanese can only be understood if you are born and raised there. There are others who think that Japanese things can be readily understood by non-Japanese, and there are a huge number in between the two ends.
Of course, if it sounded like I was putting every single Japanese person in the same drawer, I'm sorry!
Particularly the younger generation is much more open in many ways, and much more inter-cultural. With that said, I see many of these principles still running deep even in my young Japanese friends. Particularly the point about Honne and Tatamae (public and private face, as you mention in the first sentence) is as widespread as anything. Naturally this means that people that don't agree won't say anything - though at the same time, it also means nothing changes, even if no one agrees with it. As the Japanese saying goes: "The nail that sticks out, will be hammered down".

Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
Japan was a closed society for 250 years, and even now, 160 years after it was blasted open, most Japanese have little or no real contact with non-Japanese. It's still essentially a closed culture. That doesn't mean you can't grasp the ideas and concepts that form the base of the culture, it just means that learning to function smoothly in Japanese culture is really, really difficult. It can be done, but I'm pretty sure the reward is nowhere near the value of the effort.
This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, and for that, I apologize going a bit off topic, and focusing too much on these things. But this is again the whole "Japan is uniquely unique" concept, which is just silly.

Japanese culture is no more difficult to learn, than any other. As long as you are not a foreigner living in your own little "gaijin bubble" (having only foreign friends, eating at only the foreign restaurants, etc.), it really doesn't take too long to get acquainted with Japanese customs, and how to smoothly fit in.

Japan is a wonderful country, with an incredibly rich history and a wealth of traditions. But it is no more unique, or difficult to grasp, than any middle eastern country, African country, European country, or any other culture. Of course, time and effort will be needed, to fully understand the deeper points within the culture - but the same could be said, for an American coming to Denmark, a Dane coming to Pakistan, a Pakistani coming to China, and so forth.

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