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29 February 2012 @ 02:06 am
Japanese Studies, really?  

One reason why I love being a Japanese studies major is it gives me a deeper look and understanding as to why Japan is Japan right now. I absolutely understand now why my professor did not like Zhang Zhi Yi's performance in Memoirs of a Geisha as a Japanese woman. There are definitely some things--most specifically, mannerisms--that can only be learned through YEARS and YEARS of training, and majority of these have been infused with the Japanese character already. Training would only refine it to make it look like she was a lady of Tokugawa Japan.

This realization stemmed from my experiences in Japan. The tea ceremony is so intricate and beautiful that I know I won't learn it even though I've been taught for around three times already. (First picture, I'm the one in the green skirt, right most.)
Calligraphy is not so easy too--there has to be this certain control not only with your hand and concentration but with your whole body and spirit. Very...abstract, I know. You have to be relaxed and let go of all your worries while doing the calligraphy. (Second picture on the right is actually me doing calligraphy in an elementary school in Japan.) 

My course, International Studies majoring on Japanese Studies, has made me understand why Japanese are so obedient, even though it undermines their freedom. According to my Japanese philosophy readings, their society has regulated every possible aspect of a person's life, from smiling to talking, and even dying. The mere fact of disobeying these rules lead to punishment not only from the living but from the dead. However, the underlying reason for their obedience is their appreciation of their ancestors, how they have protected their family for generations. The living do not wish to do anything that would endanger their relationship with their ancestors.  That is the most fascinating thing for me--how the Japanese pay so much respect for the dead. It's not 1000% logical (however, since when did religion present a logic that is based on reason that is not based on divinity?), but it makes a lot of sense. Scientific proof is hard to present for something like that, but it's so much more sensible and believable for me. 
Though my course has undoubtedly glorified Japan in my mind, still it gives me opportunities to become critical towards her glory. My international affairs related subjects has allowed me to look at Japan in a different environment and see how distinct they are from the rest.
In a nutshell, I love my course to death. And as a soon to be member of the society, I am so happy that I chose this path to find my real purpose in life.

~ first picture was from the Kanaoka Elementary School website. Main article can be found here.
~ second picture was taken by my Japanese Language professor in Shourinji Elementary School. Arigatou Itchon sensei! 

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