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Ginza Hokoten Story Ⅲ
Judit Kawaguchi
Ginza Hokoten Story Ⅲ

Cosmopolitans


I always loved the company of elderly people, even as a little girl back in Hungary and later on in the USA. I guess that after a certain age people have nothing to hide and everything to share so they are more fun and also a wealth of information. With their personal walls all gone, they welcome visitors to their sacred private space where they happily answer any question without shame or hesitation.
In Japan, too, I have many friends in their 70’s and 80’s or more and they are some of the coolest people I know. They are energetic, full of guts to challenge themselves and grateful to live in this peaceful and affluent nation. They are proud of their culture because they know a lot about it. The key word here is schooling. They are the last generation to have been born and educated before Word War II and they grew up with the idea of forming the 100 million people’s firewall to protect their nation till their last breaths and working hard so Japan could develop. They did a fantastic job! I thank them every day because I enjoy the fruits of their hard labor.
The riddle is how could these wonderful people raise children with such different mentality? Why are many members of the next generation missing the great qualities of their parents? These so-called baby boomers are the ones who not only created the bubble, but also taught their children that instead of being Japanese, they should be “cosmopolitan,” which for them is translated into carrying foreign designer bags and going to Paris before ever visiting Kyoto. They think that knowing a lot about other countries comes before being familiar with their own culture and history, if they ever get to it at all.
How come they are like this? I guess the answer is in the Japanese education system which after WWII was developed to strip the Japanese of their pride and erase their patriotism. At schools and in the media, the Japanese were very successfully brainwashed that their history was shameful and their culture an import of foreign influences. The focus was on installing a sense of guilt while cultivating awe and admiration for the achievements of other nations. While the kids were mis-educated, their parents were working too hard to pay attention and maybe they thought that it was best not to talk about the past but to look forward to a brighter future.
Well, the bright future is here but all the grandeur of the past is gone. Today’s Japanese know so little of their history and culture that they have almost no feelings of belonging to this land. They are ignorant of the achievements of their ancestors, and don’t know how much the Japanese have and are contributing to the world. Naturally they have no pride in themselves, their family or nation. They think they are part of the earth and the world, which is true, yet before we can be global, we must be local.
When I came to Japan, I learnt about my husband’s family, our little neighborhood, our local festival, and I became friends with our neighbors and through these seemingly small steps I developed a sense of belonging, love and appreciation for Japan and a desire to contribute to the country whose people welcomed me. If I could do it, anyone can.
Till next time, from hokoten with love! JK
【2006/05/20 19:10】 | Ginza Hokoten 物語(J/E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
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