Ted Ehara wrote:
I would be interested in hearing any thoughts on the above quote, from both inside and outside Japan.
I think he's wrong on quite a few counts.
Japan is very much in the news in S E Asia. Some people in Korea and China are most upset that the history textbooks do not present a view of World War II of which they approve. But this does not prevent them from buying Toyota and Honda motorcars.
Secondly, I am not sure that Mishima is the best judge of the Japanese spirit. For many Japanese he represents a harsh and dark side, represented by the black sound trucks: an idea of national purity that harks back to the kokutai and the repression of the 30s and 40s.
How do you judge the 'spirit' of a people or nation? Do the supposedly spiritual aspects of football or baseball, if they exist, reveal the American spirit? They might, but I would hesitate to use soccer as any indication for an 'English' spirit, apart from the sort that you drink.
Over Golden Week, I went with friends to Izumo Taisha, the shrine in Shimane Prefecture. The weather was good and there were many people there. Ceremonies were being held in one of the buildings and the trees were festooned with omikuji (good luck charms that were not 'lucky' enough and which were attached to the trees as a way of asking the shrine deities to do better). Japanese tend to be 'practically religious', as one writer put it.
A colleague of mine spent part of the spring vacation doing her pilgrimage of the 88 temples in Shikoku, a practice supposedly started by Kukai. She does not have the time to do it all at once, so she does it in sections.
Just two examples, and of course we all know that it would be quite wrong to use these two examples to generalize about the entire population.