being japanese

2 months have past since the Tohoku/Kanto earthquake on 11th of march 2011. the terrain seems to have calmed down finally (at least in Tokyo), and our life is almost back to normal. i still get a bit sensitive from time to time, whenever our furniture makes some squeaky sound or the apartment gets vibrated slightly from a truck passing by our street. when that happens i get tense for a second, but resume my daily life right after. most of the time i spend a day without thinking about the threat from the ground, which is a great relief.

given the impact of the disaster, the earthquake and the incidents occurred around it have been and are still, quite naturally, the main topics at the dinner table. for the past couple of months, i have noticed cultural or maybe personal differences in a variety of occasions. it is not about right or wrong, but just different. there are too many examples to tell, but these things can be summed up to the very basic ideas of human behaviour as follows:

– a virtue of perseverance vs. a spirit of survival
– compassion towards the problems, or discrimination against the problems
– surrender vs. confrontation
– acceptance vs. denial
– conformity vs. individualism

under the extreme circumstances of the disaster, i have witnessed these fundamental differences in people’s mindset, and realised how much influence we are prone to get depending on where you grow up, how you are brought up, and whom you grow up with.

as mentioned earlier, i believe there is no right or wrong in whichever you react. it’s just the differences in mentality and values which are built on years and years of history around the world. one thing i can say is, being a native of a mono-cultural society, we are expected, by our fellow country people, to act in certain ways to conform to what the society believes in. in such environment, sometimes it can be hard to have differences in opinion, especially when you are exposed to a multitude of ideas and are surrounded by a diversified group of people.

being among different cultures, ethics and ideologies, sometimes it gets pretty confusing in regards to what i should or want to have faith in. of course i am proud to be japanese and love our culture dearly, but on the other hand there are certain ideas that i do not agree to, but i find it hard to voice it. i am afraid of not being accepted, and am scared of being regarded as a traitor. perhaps this characteristic itself is the most japanese quality that i possess and try so hard to disguise.

i don’t know how to finish this essay, as i guess there is no relevant answer to what i am questioning. ok, i sign off here, will let it lie and observe…

1 Comment

  1. tess

    I think you expressed this very well. It is not wrong to question cultural mores and to stretch ones imagination. Boundaries can be protective and limiting, but they can also be inspiring… for how else can you move outside the box if you don’t know where the walls are? 🙂 T

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