4 Le Hoang Yen

The strong wind and snowfall hitting my face made it harder for me to walk downhill.

The wind blew stronger,

The snow grew heavier

On a lonely walkway.


For this week’s lecture, I found myself captivated by Japan’s immense value in proper etiquette, very highly regarded from the moment one steps into the country and gets introduced to Japanese culture. The role that formality has played for generations can be dated back to the era when appreciation of Buddhism was a key factor in establishing Japan’s customs and traditions. Although complex, Buddhist beliefs reasonably place morality and “doing good” in great importance. Breaking free from the attachment to the disrupting “house on fire” leads to progression, or enlightenment that allows one to return back to the evanescent reality with a clear and compassionate mind. And to escape the chaotic world is to enter to another kind of world believed to operate in a “non-changing, metaphysical form” (Inouye 53). Prof. Inouye emphasized the strong faith in a “transcendental order that exists above an ever-changing physical reality” (Inouye Lecture), the blend between Shinto’s non-symbolic worships and Buddhism’s notion of abstract, yet permanent world, which guide the culture Japanese carefully follow. The strong presence of visuals leaves no place for text scripture to transcribe such intertwined religious practices. This is one of the main reasons why kata in its visual form, ranging from the way to handle chopsticks and rice bowl, the way to prepare tea, plays a significant role in interconnecting fixed order of metaphysical world within impermanent reality and thus creating “the order of here-and-now” (Inouye 61).





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One Response to 4 Le Hoang Yen

  1. Hello Hoang,
    I really understood the image presented in your haiku, and enjoyed your drawing. I think you captured the Noh mask’s face perfectly. In your haiku the juxtaposition of the changing increase of the snow storm with the permanence of the walkway offers a physical example of evanescence and form in your poem. Maybe by eliminating some words like “the” or “on” so it’s more brief could add more reverberations by the reader. I too was interested in the Japanese stress on the importance of kata within it’s visual forms. Who knew that simple the way you handle chopsticks could indicate something so deep such as your spiritual knowledge and understanding?

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