5 Shigenobu Hanako

After a long day at a track meet in Springfield, MA, I went for a short run as the sun was setting.

Another day
Night dawns
In a sunset sky

I agree that sadness can be beautiful in that it allows people to really feel and learn compassion, but the idea that Japan breeds a generally sad population struck with ‘mono no aware‘ is depressing. Maybe part of this sadness stems from the attention to appearance. For example, the “old fellow” who asked for a concubine with very specific characteristics like “she should have the most up-to-date good looks. . .the hips firm but not too well padded, the buttocks plump” (Hibbett 166-167). Another example is the emphasis placed on etiquette, which creates a very black and white society. People are bound by traditions and standards like the one provided by the “old fellow”, which I think can inhibit the Japanese from finding their sense of self that is so longed for. Being a slave to etiquette and norms is a catalyst for the separation between the inner and outer dimensions of personalities, which creates a “self-conscious schizophrenia” in the population (8). So while it may appear that someone is committed to an action, their “inner personality” may feel totally opposed to that action, causing this split and wounding the self. This is evident in the drinking culture in Japan. An employed person could be the type who wants to go home to family on a Friday night, but instead gets wasted with co-workers because that is what etiquette dictates. Furthermore, this separation between inner and outer dimensions is also seen in Japanese life in general. It maintains the appearance of being very proper, yet had this culture where married men slept with geishas and “their true wives never enter[ed] their minds” and get/got wasted on weekends (170). In these examples, we see people acting in ways they are not proud of, yet choose not to change their habits: “at the bottom of his heart such a man feels deeply resentful towards the courtsan. . . no wonder a man will ruin himself for a clever girl” (177). The rigidity of the nation makes vices even harder to resist, which I think affects the Japanese ability to create a sense of self because it is difficult to differentiate between etiquette and hedonistic desires, leading to “ruin”.

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