Week 7: Powerful Natioalism

Week 7 : The Transcendental Order

By Songwha Choi

I was walking in front of Alewife station in the middle of the night when I noticed that the icicles hang from tree branches was falling down.

Winter night—

Icicles hang from tree branches

Falling down in the snow

      A person’s identity and sense of belonging to one state or to one nation is called by national identity. People can get a sense of unity when they share strong faith with a group of people in a nation. This week, we discussed the situation of Japan in the 19th century. In the Meiji government, Japan advocated nationalism to defend the country from European and Western invading forces. This nationalism allowed Japan to achieve solidarity. It caused the powerful imperialism in Japanese society. Imperialism in a sense means the extension of one nation’s power over other lands. Imperialism can give a powerful sense of unity to a nation. In Japan, Imperialism had a strong influence on national identity, so it made Japan pursue only one common goal with a single perspective. The emperor tried to control not only Japanese society but also colonies with political power. Japan’s national identity is filled with domination. However, the Kamikaze demonstrates that this powerful rule was being misused to sustain the emperor’s power.  The emperor encouraged the Japanese to sacrifice their lives for the country. The Japanese had to obey the transcendental order because they regarded the emperor as God. The nation was brainwashed by the slogan: “If you die for your country, you can be kami” (Lecture 06/02/13). How did the emperor convince the Japanese people to devote themselves to their counry? Glory was important to the Japanese, hence, the emperor went on to talk about how individual good and individual glory depended on the imperial glory.

      While Kamikaze embraced evanescence and sadness, in Bushido-the Soul of Japan, Nitobe Inaz embraced the victims as the hero.  Their noble deaths are not futile for the country. Even though the dead warriors cannot revive in the current Japanese society, their loyalties can live forever.  Young generations can learn solidarity and patriotism from their ancestors. Inazo emphasizes the soul of Bushido. The Japanese warrior ethos can be Japan’s driving force. The samurai represents the way of Japanese warrior. Samurai had lived with the virtues of Bushido, such as rectitude, courage, benevolence, politeness, sincerity, honor, loyalty and self-control. “Life being regarded as the means whereby to serve his master, and its ideal being set upon honour, the whole education and training of a samurai were conducted accordingly (Inazo 93). This idea can be the moral guideline for the Japanese. The Japanese can follow a great cause in order to attain their common goal. It also can make the Japanese mind and body stronger. While Basho enjoyed a natural image, Inazo tried to ake the samurai’s and sakura’s image in order to apply to the national identity. There was a political motivation. He sought a big picture that the nation identity forces individual to the world with invisible idea. As Professor inouye said, “Japanese, we are all samurai” (lecture 08/02/2013). The Japanese national spirit comes from the samurai ethos of what Inazo called Busido. “It is only in the code of chivalrous honour that loyalty assumes paramount importance” (Inazo 82). The Japanese should take to heart the immortal lesson taught by history. It will be a valuable and intensive power in Japanese society. 


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