UNKNOWN JAPAN: discovery of differences and refinement of an ignored culture.
JAPON-FRANCE : réflexions sur l'origine et la survivance des différences culturelles et sociales
en se référant à l'impact sur
les mentalités du type d'écriture, du fait religieux et des contraintes naturelles.
Réflexion suivies de la narration d'un voyage initiatique ouvrant à la découverte d'un autre monde : mode de vie raffiné, architecture épurée, jeu des pleins et des vides, de grouillement et de nature...Josée et Raymond /
My ( first) voyage/stay to/in Japan
A question which the reader can put as I pose it with myself since years: From where does this passion for Japan come me?
Absolutely nothing in my entourage could lead me to it! Then what? how?
Only one index, a childish reading about Myeko, the small girl with the red kimono ("Myeko's gift" by Kay Haugaard - 1966) which allured me so much by its grace than by its distress, in its universe divided between tradition and modernity...
This had led me, before this voyage, to reflect on the origins of the cultural differences between our countries .
All started in July 2000. After a very pleasant voyage, I have the impression that we were going to land on sea, but not, I was unaware of still that the airport of Kansai was located on a spit of land connected in Osaka. Arrived to Osaka, I was recovered by a Japanese woman who was going to be one of my professors at the time of my stay with Kyôto. We thus travelled by the train for Kyôto and we went to the center languages where my family of reception awaited me. I was more than accomodated well, I was cherished as only can do it the Japanese and I was likely to remain 4 weeks with Kyôto what enabled me to discover the city more in-depth than the tourists of passage. After these 4 weeks in the old imperial city, where I could be plunged in other places in Japan . It is true that my Japanese level and the brevity of my stay enabled me to discover only some aspects of the life and the Japanese people, but the little which I discovered me filled with wonder and gave me the desire to go back there as soon as possible. I wish that all those which went to Japan be also magic. I was thus "Japanese" for one month, and the happiness which I tested over there gives me desire for dividing it with those which will read what follows.
With the first glance, the city seems the same one as the other large Japanese cities: obstructions at the peak hours, districts of the center where the trade and finance are concentrated... But however, Kyôto has a charm that does not have null another large Japanese city: as soon as one leaves a little the center, one enters another dimension where time acquièrt another value and one penetrates in immutable Japan, that of the communion with nature, calms it and serenity.
Visits impossible to miss
Of course, there are visits not to miss, as it should be for any tourist visiting Kyôto. Indeed, this one is given an impressive architectural heritage, having been capital of Japan during more than 1000 years. Thus, we start with Kinkaku-ji, L E famous gold house. It holds its name of the sheets of fine gold plated on its roofs which are reflected in the water of a pond. Unfortunately, one rather evokes with regret his founder, the shôgun ("shortened word of ''seii tai shôgun '', literally généralisime which pacifies the barbarians. Titrate of military governor whose load could hereditary, be conferred with Minamoto No Yoritomo by the emperor in 1192. Thereafter, the shôgun often showed of authority and ambition, competing with the emperor.")Ashikaga Yoshimitsu; it had been indeed withdrawn in these places after its abdication at the end of the 16th century, alive in a shameless luxury whereas the population supported the famine, the seisms and the plague. Set fire to in 1950 by a young monk, (the novel of Yukio Mishima, the Gold House , is inspired by this event), it was rebuilt in 1955. Personally, I clearly preferred Ginkaku-ji . This house was built in 1482 like reprocesses shôgun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, which planned to be made build a silver counterpart of the "gold house" built by his/her grandfather. But the death of Yoshimasa before the completion of the project did not make it possible to cover the residence with money plates, designed to reflect the moon. In its garden, two monticules of sand and gravels white have been preserved for 3 centuries. They recall, says one, the Fuji Mount. Louis Frederic describes this house, in his book " Japan Intime ", with sensitivity and accuracy, well better than I could not do it. It says this:"son garden, one of most astonishing than I know, admirable combination in a relatively restricted space, sand gardens and gardens with river, ponds and hills. Among these wonders of rocks and plants, strange, a small sanctuary shintô, shy person, délicieusement discrete (...) Contrary to the other gardens Zen where one must stop being driven in space and time in order to at the same time contemplate them of only one point, here, it is necessary to move, follow carefully the alleys designed for a complicated ambulation which brings the ones after the others thousand subjects of amazement... " Among other "curiosities", one owes of visit R Sanjusangendo, built in 1266, it shelters a statue out of wooden of Kannon5"Kannon ('' Avalokitesvara '' in Sanskrit) is a bodhisattva, i.e. a being engaged on the way of the awakening but which gave up there to help the others to enter there. Kannon has the reputation to be an existing infallible saver in 33 forms.") with eleven faces. It is surrounded by 28 protective statues and 1001 smaller statues representing it. This temple is very impressive when these 1000 aligned statues are seen all. This style slices sobriety of the other buildings, but of course each one its tastes... Essential, the visi you in Ryôan-ji , founded in 1473, which tien T its reputation of its famous sand garden Zen and gravel white from where emergent 15 rocks evoking of the tigers leaping. One cannot not go to see this temple because its garden is undoubtedly one of most famous in the world, and yet, I was allured by other gardens Zen, less known but quite as mysterious (such as Tenryu-ji, place withdrawn and quiet, with the doors of the city, whose garden is strewn with rocks and of cascades dry). Let us continue the visit with Heian-jingu , built in 1894 to celebrate eleventh centenaire of the foundation of the capital, Heiankyo 5"Founded by the emperor Kammu (reign 781-806) which, in 794, transferred to it its residence and its government in order to escape the political influence from the monks from Nara, the new capital accepted the name of '' capital of peace ''."°: it reproduces the imperial palate of 794. If the buildings are of Chinese inspiration, the garden, is quite Japanese and it famous for him of a great beauty with its flowers of cherry tree in spring and the red foliage of maples in autumn (two seasons that it remains me to discover). In a charming district, the fabulous temple is located : Kiyo will mizu-dera . C onstruit in 788 and rebâi in 1633, it is perched at the edge of a ravine and its terrace rests on 139 15 meters height beams. It is a spectacular building, which it is necessary to go to see absolutely. While going down, you can stop with the cascades of Otawa whose water has healing virtues. This is why one can see a Japanese crowd to make the tail to drink this fresh water (myself, I tasted there, when to know if water with really a curative capacity...). In Kiyomizudera, as in all the other Japanese temples, one can see the ema , small plates, decorated, drink some on which one registers a wish. One should not be gone from there without to have made a turning by Fushimi-Inari . Behind the first torii already the red of the large principal door shines, the richly decorated sanctuary shows the architecture of the Momoyama time. A splendid alley of walk, long 4 km where are laid out 1000 torii, crosses the wood of the Fushimi mount. There still, Louis Frederic comes to my help to make you share my enthusiasm: "the place is marvellous: all the sanctuaries shintô are located in places supported by nature, in general within wood with the secular trees. Fushimi Inari ("popular divinity of rice, generally represented in the shape of a fox") does not make exception. Located at hillside, it climbing briskly this one of many alleys in staircases, broadsides of lanterns of stone or wood and small sanctuaries in reduction. But what distinguishes this sanctuary and announces it more particularly are the alleys of torii. A torii is a wood door without leaf, made of 2 pillars on which 2 horizontal beams rest. These torii announces the entry of all the sanctuaries shintô, and is in general 3. They are supposed to represent the successive doors making it possible faithful to pass gradually from the world of reality in the supernatural world of Kami. In Fushimi Inari Taisha, the habit is to offer, as a thanks, a wood torii, painted in red and black."
Here, we made about the turn of the temples and sanctuaries not to be missed. Each building of Kyôto points out a page of its long period of glory. It is the case also for splendid the châte in Nijo . It was the residence of the shôguns Tokugawa at the time of their stays with Kyôto and it is known for the luxury of its decorations. Built at the beginning of the 17th century under the shôgun Tokugawa Ieyasu ("Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), founder of the dynasty of shôguns of Tokugawa, which ensured its capacity on Japan at the end of two decisive battles in 1600 and 1614-1615."), it is an example of architecture known as Momoyama. The interior shows, contrary to European aristocratic constructions of the time, an excessively stripped elegance. The 33 rooms are covered with 800 tatamis , all the sliding doors can be withdrawn at the hot season, so that the draughts thus caused refresh the buildings. On the other hand, one was to be particularly cold in winter because there was not heating. A strange characteristic of the castle is the uguisubari or parquet floor-nightingale, on the first floor, which reacts to the least noise of step by a light acute sound. It allowed the guards partly hidden in alcoves dissimulated taking into consideration to locate the intruders.
More secret treasuries
As there exists more than 1500 temples and 200 sanctuaries with Kyôto, there still, you have the choice after the "obligatory" visits. You have, for example, the superb Maruyama park which includes/understands many temples: Chion-in which the principal, high door and going back to 1619, 24 meters impresses because of its imposing roof; Shoren-in which the current buildings go back to 1895 has a garden of an incomparable beauty or the Yakasa sanctuary, built in 1654, having a stone torii 9.5 meters height. Very also interesting, Ninna-ji, rested by the 19th emperor, Uda, into 888, was formally called the Old Imperial Palate of Omuro as it was used as residence to the ex-emperor. Chishaku-in (temple bouddhic of the Shingon sect ("Shingon ('' True Word!''), the principal Japanese school of Buddhism esoteric and most significant out of India and Tibet. It was founded in Japan for the period Heian (794-1185), after celebrates it Kukai monk went to China to study Buddhism there esoteric. It developed its own synthesis, of which the central figure was Vairochana, the cosmic Buddha or Amida."), rebuilt in 1598, with a splendid garden Zen) and I enormously also liked Kodai-ji. Lastly, I advise you highly it Byôdô-in , which is in Uji, close to Kyôto, that one names also the house of the phoenix. This Buddhist temple goes back to 1053, it is famous because of a remarkable statue of the Buddha Amida , same time. I cannot quote all the temples or sanctuaries which I visited but will know that none will disappoint you. If you seek a place to find you, do not hesitate to make a turn in one of the temples or the sanctuaries which you will cross on your way!
Of course, and it is there that the charm seizing of Kyôto you cramp, one should not limit its visit to its places, splendid, certainly, but it is necessary to take time to stroll along the old channel, in the district of Pontochô or that of Gion to the meeting of the apprenties geishas, the maiko.
You can thus discover randomly your walk, an old lady in yukata, a businessman raffraîchissant himself with a range, a maiko which returns to it, of the schoolboys in uniform... The neighbourhoods of Kiyomizu-dera are very interesting also with multitudes of small shops. Do not hesitate either to make some excursions in the neighbourhoods of Kyôto, that it is in Nara, or even in the hills surrounding the old capital. Thus, discover the Hiei Mont. Very significant mountain in the past bus in its top, Saichô ("buddhist monk, Saichô (767-822) was the founder of the sect esoteric Tendai according to which the safety of each one depends on its merits.") created there the temple Enraku-ji, which became the principal monastery of the Buddhist sect, Tendai, in the country. The Hiei Mount with its temples disseminated in all the mountain is a really magic place. More especially as one is with the variation of the city and that the freshness heights helps us to purify our spirit.
If, like me, you are in Kyôto towards mid-August, is needed that you attend Daimonji, it is a ceremony which celebrates the end of O-bon (the All Souls' Day). Men carrying of the torches climb the Nioigatake mount, close to Kyôto and, once the night come there forms a kanji, meaning large, of more than 150m broad and on 4 other mounts, others kanji are thus formed. These gigantic fires would be intended to wish a happy voyage to the hearts of late which regain Beyond.
If Kyôto is famous for a thing, they are well its already randomly evoked gardens visits of the temples. It is according to tastes' of each one, but I do not think that it can exist people who remain insensitive vis-a-vis the beauty of the Japanese gardens. IT y those out of foam, out of stone, with water or trees. You wander in the city, then a temple attracts you. You enter there and you penetrate in another world. There, the noises of the city are keep silent, only the ECRIN of nature accomodates you. And they is marvellous. One can remain hours to contemplate a garden, it brings serenity and peace. I do not know anything which is also alleviating. For a few moments or a few hours, you can forget the moment present, you smell yourselves, rather, immutable, like these gardens.
To finish on Kyôto, I would like to quote Pierre-Emile Durand, when it describes this so beautiful city:"Ici the beauty is not apparent. It is deserved and they are only randomly flâneries and gradually that the charm operates (...) If the beauty is thus jealously protected, it is essaimée also everywhere on this perfect quadrilateral of four side kilometers since one counts downtown this more than two thousand Buddhist temples and sanctuaries shintô, of the palates and the imperial villas, of the oneiric gardens and houses".
Return to introduction
My everyday life in Japan
I liked the life much in Japan, and more particularly in Kyôto, during the few weeks when I was there. You will have noticed it, moreover, with the use of superlatives of which I misused in the first part, which is numerous in French and yet insufficient to translate my enthusiasm. My only regret it is the surprise which the incredible electric wire profusion constituted in the sky of Kyôto, I must acknowledge that that shocks. Moreover, the electric posts are enormous and in the lanes, one must sail between those, the cyclists and the cars. Fortunately, the Japanese are very courteous.
In the center of languages
Every morning, I travelled by the train to cross the city and to return to me in the center languages. And each morning, the train was per hour except for the second. What amused me much, it was to see that every morning, at the same place of the station, the same businessman in dark costume, was there, vis-a-vis the same compartment in which it assembled each day. It sometimes happened to me to see Japanese women out of kimono, in the refreshing train or of the businessmen with a range. Arrived at the station where I went down, there remained to me 10 minutes of walk to arrive at Kyôto International Center of Languages. Each one was distributed according to its level in different groups. The intensive courses of summer proceed over 4 weeks, 5 days per week, the morning of 9H with 12H30. Of course, if that interests you, will know that there are no only courses in summer, but throughout the year according to programs. In any case, the courses are very interesting and Profs extremely sympathetic nerves. But, I was very diverted by the method. In fact, all is based on the oral examination, I took only few notes, and, in that, I did not expect it. I was not accustomed to the oral examination, and I think that I progressed much, but I acknowledge that the effort of memory was very intense since Profs did all to us to learn by heart seems strange r without really giving grammatical explanations. However, for our Cartesian spirit, it should be recognized humbly that the lack of explanations slowed down a little the training. However, I have an excellent memory of these courses. With the fact, at the end of the training course, we were entitled to an examination on our knowledge obtained during the 4 weeks: it was the serious one!
There are some rules of good manners to follow and one can say that they are common to almost all the Japanese hearths. First of all, when one penetrates in a house, its shoes should be removed. There is a space designed to remove them, then one sees a walk on which of the pairs of slippers that is laid out should be put. In the same way, when the house is left, one takes off his slippers on walk and one takes again his shoes remained on lower walk. On the other hand, if one enters a part covered with tatami, one must take off his slippers.
The other great difference compared to on our premises, is the Japanese bath. The Japanese are insane baths and besides, in all the families where I went, I benefitted from it. Contrary to a shower, the bath with the Japanese way is very good for health because it makes it possible to be released. Test Ofuro, it is incomparable. But for that: the bath-tub is only used to be released while being plunged in extreme water, one should not especially be washed in the bath-tub but at side where one finds a kind of shower. In addition, the water of the bath is used to all the family, which finally is not awkward since being washed out of the bath-tub, the water of the bath is clean. In any case, one says that the best bath is that with 42.3°C, it is very hot but very pleasant... when one is accustomed! In any case, if you do not place in a family, you have the sentô, which are the public baths and which will make the same effect.
It happens that one finds a furnace bridge Buddhist at the private individuals. In fact, they are often the old people who still preserve ashes of their late husband, on their premises. I had the chance that the grandmother of my family of reception allows me to see the Buddhist furnace bridge in which ashes of her husband were placed. The part was typically traditional with tatami and sliding doors and there was even a tokonoma (niche spared in the wall where a painting and a floral arrangement are presented).
Delights of the table
Food constitutes in my opinion an additional attraction. And did not fear, if you do not control Japanese completely, it is enough for you to show the fronts of the shops with the waiter to render comprehensible to him what you wish. In my family of reception, each meal caused innovation as much as delight. The morning, we ate either with the Western manner (with sandwich bread, omelette, fruit juice...), or with the Japanese woman with a meal containing rice (inevitably) and often of fish or the remainders of the day before at the evening, or the maki. The evening, I was impressed by the diversity of the mets laid out on the table: often a soup (algae and tofu, mushrooms) and then myriade of dishes (chicken, tofu, sashimi, fritters of vegetables or meat). In short, assured treat each time. Small council for beginners: you hang if you try to catch the cuttlefish with your rods, that slips by because they is a little viscous. In spite of the risks which you take while crossing the table with the cuttlefish between your rods, the game is worth the candle. It is excellent. With the family of my corresponding of Nagoya, we went in a bar to sushi. It was extraordinary. It was one of most famous of Nagoya, also, we must have patience at least an hour before being able to install us. Then, of the small plates, where were laid out of the sushi, ravelled in front of us on a travelling carpet. We were useful ourselves as far as we wanted and the addition was calculated according to the color and of the number of the plates on which there had been more or less expensive sushi. They is rather expensive, but it is a delight. If you have the occasion, test the okonomiyaki, it is a kind of pizza pie made up of various elements such as meat, fish or cabbage. You have also ramens, of course, which is Chinese noodles which are eaten out of soup, the sushi and sashimi which are not presented any more, yakitori (chicken skewers been useful with vegetables), teppanyaki (meat which is prepared directly on a hotplate), it is a treat! There are several kinds of tea: the sencha (green tea), the usucha (light powder tea), the koicha (strong powder tea) or the macha (green powder tea), to quote only them. You still have the tea with roasted corn (mugicha), the tea with roasted rice (genmaicha) or the tea of the first quality (ichibancha). In any case, accompanied by Japanese sweetened kidney beans (azuki), the tea, even bitterest becomes a delight! Do not hesitate to taste the zenzai (kidney bean mashed potaties), the yôkan (frost of kidney beans) or the shiruko (kidney bean soup). I highly advise you also to test the dango, they are pellets of rice and the mochi (rice paste cooks with the vapor and last with the rammer), I adored.
One very often speaks about the perfectionism of the Japanese people. I think that one can be convinced some quickly. Thus, whereas we test ourselves with a meeting of penmanship in my family of reception, the father of my family wished to show me which were the kanji of its first name. Unfortunately, I never saw them traced his own hand. Indeed, it started again good ten time the penmanship of its first name, and each time disappointed by its service, it preferred anything to show me. Finally, it was his wife who traced them to me in her place. Always in the same style, we made one evening origami. The father of my family made a point of showing me what a crab in origami gave. He was so fastidious on the folding, which he put more than one hour before making us admire the masterpiece. With its discharge, it should be specified that the folding of crab is very complex...
I wished to add that the Japanese are incredibly nice and accessible. As of my arrival, my family of reception invited me to the restaurant. Then, it did not hesitate to make me visit the city or the places of which I had intended to speak and which I wished to see. The top was undoubtedly the day when my family offered a yukata to me that I étrenné at the time of the daimonji. I acknowledge that I did not expect it and it is a gift which made me an immense pleasure. More especially as they was extremely expensive. Together, we went to the lake Biwa where every summer a splendid fireworks takes place: more than 10 000 rockets are drawn. It is magic. This exit enabled me to see for the first time, that at the time of the festivals, the girls carry to them yukata. That added with the charm of the evening.
To describe the life in Japan, for the daily newspaper, it is necessary to remain more than six weeks. At the end of one month, one only starts to include/understand certain aspects of the company, but much from things escape to us still unfortunately. This is why, my descriptions concerning the life in Japan remain a little fuzzy...
Return to introduction
After having left Kyôto, I made a small excursion in a small city located in the mountain, in the north of Nagoya. Takayama, built at the 15th century by the daimyô Kanamori, is surrounded by several mountains culminating with more than 3000 meters. The old district of the center, with its narrow lanes and its beautiful houses drink some dating from the 18è century, is very picturesque. Takayama is often described of "minis-Kyôto" because of its sanctuaries, as its temples and many small channels. Moreover, this qualifier does not have what to surprise since the lord of the time wanted to create a reduced counterpart of Kyôto. The small city has a great number of houses of sake. One can also visit Takayama jinya. It is the single administrative building of the period of still existing Edo.
Then, I spent a few days to Tôkyô, but I acknowledge that the ceaseless swarming one of crowd in the streets gives the tournis and that ends up being tiring. The tokyoites are less cordial besides than the inhabitants of Kyôto. It is certain that I preferred "provincial" environment more of the old imperial capital. However, Tôkyô is an extraordinary mixture and it is amusing to see adorable maisonnettes or tiny temples and sanctuaries leaned with immense skyscrapers. I adored Asakusa. This district is distinguished clearly from the others because the spirit of old Edo remains there still a little: the lanes are full with charm. Asakusa developed around the temple Sensoji, oldest of Tôkyô (middle of the 7th century), one reaches it by crossing the impressive Kaminarimon door, then by borrowing Nakamise, an alley bordered of 150 souvenir shops and typical cakes. The sanctuary of Asakusa and the pagoda on 5 floors form the center of this district. The more "connected" districts of Tôkyô are to be seen, also. You have the choice between Ginza, Shinjuku, Shibuya or Harajuku. The Chenese district of Yokohama is to be seen. You will include/understand the architectural differences in style between two civilizations, at the time of your visit. It is, in any case, a very pleasant district and very animated.
Wishing to see Fuji-san, I went with my corresponding on the side of Hakone. Unfortunately, at this period of the year, Fuji is difficult to see. To comfort itself, we then went to the sanctuary of Hakone. The place superb, is lost in the medium of a wood, with a torii on the shore of the lake which Fuji-san dominates.
However, it remains me much of places to discover, in particular Miyajima, Nikkô, Nara, Kamakura or Hiroshima. I hope to go back to Japan longer, to visit all these places in charge of beauty and history, but also for better impregnating me mentality of the Japanese company. My narration which is completed is only one vision very partial and partial of Japan, and I invite you to discover it by yourself.
Return to introduction
To go further in the discovery of Japan :
"Japon Intime" ("Japan Intimates")of Louis Frédéric, Editions du Félin, collection Les Racines de la Connaissance, 1986
"Le Japon des quatre saisons" ("The four season in Japan")of Pierre-Emile Durand, Edition du Carabe, 1998
"De la Gaule au Japon" ("Of Gaule in Japan" ) of Claude Durix, Editions du Cert, 1999 (it wrote many other works on Japan)
"Japon, crise d'une autre modernité" ()"Japan, crisis of another modernity") of Philippe Pelletier, Editions Belin, La documentation française, 2003
"Le Japon" ("Japan") Peuples et Nations, Editions Time-Life, 1990
"Culturally, Japanese and Frenchare they so distant from each other?
Nobody can deny the originality of the cultures per hour of universalization would be a nonsense even if commonly the observers consider that the current company tends to standardize the cultures. It is true that the modern means of communication and displacements facilitate the exchanges and the meetings and make the people a little less foreign the ones to the others.
For the Westerner, Japan is a country complex, marked ambiguities and paradoxes, even of contradictions by its aspects where modernity and tradition mix.
The Japanese and the French thus appear still largely distant. Between them remains a great cultural share strangeness. How to astonish since France and Japan are both in extreme cases extreme of the eurasian continent. This physical distance symbolizes in short cut all that can move away French and Japanese.
Among the factors which can explain this cultural distance, it seems that natural constraints, religion and writing have a strong influence.
To reach the conclusion
It is not possible of to evoke Japan without recalling that the natural nature and more generally constraints have a strong capacity of differentiation between our two countries and beyond between our two people. It is also a factor strongly discriminating compared to other countries of the Far East.
France is a country supported by a varied, peaceful and fertile nature. The various types of relief and the climates, always moderate, make it possible the human activities to thrive almost everywhere, that it is about of agricultural productions or human establishments. It is added to that an environment favorable, as well maritime as continental making France a country hinge within Europe and of the Western world.
With the opposite, great Japanese originality, it is living in the need for always having to face an ungrateful and parsimonious nature. Japan much more populated than France, does not have that a territory much more restricted, limited by the mountains and the sea, with a poor basement, territory made up of an archipelago of thousands of islands offering few agricultural resources.
Most constraining however, it is the violence of the natural elements. Indeed, Japan rests on an unstable ground: the ground trembles there very often. That undoubtedly explains the fatalism of the population and her conscience of the transitory one. How to believe in the permanence of the things on a ground agitated by a thousand of tremors each year? The seisms involve also destroying tidal waves which sweep the coasts (tsunami).
The climate also is interfered. The typhoons are current things in Japan, waited as much than dreaded because they bring the water necessary to the cultures.
These natural conditions induce a duality of the Japanese towards nature. Indeed, the elements have a too disproportionate force so that the Japanese people can fight them, it can only undergo them humbly. It dedicates a worship with nature that it is necessary to respect and fear, which led the Japanese to seek to reconcile themselves (deification in the shintô) or to tame (art of the garden and floral art) these forces. This contributes to survival of animism expressed in the s shintoïsm.
For the Westerners, it is thus difficult to understand this state of mind, themselves not being confronted with all these problems. Admittedly disastrous climatic events as those which France knows with the hinge of the millenium lead to more humility and a perception of the common feeling of precariousness among Japanese.
Return to the introduction
Heirs of religions and different philosophies, French and Japanese are subject to of it thus the influence in their ways of life and their culture. Japan represents a perfect illustration of the religious syncretism.
The French culture must much with the Judeo-Christianity. The primitive pagan practices, of animist type, were largely unobtrusive there with the favour of the romanisation. This one then became the vector of the Christianity which imposed itself like single religious model. Religion monotheist with a god immanent who offers eternity to right at the end individual search of the hello.
Of course this religious substrate underwent some misadventures with the wire of time, in particular with the Reform or more recently with the irruption of Islam to the favour of immigration and the rise of atheism. However, beyond the reality of the practices or the nonpractical chocolate éclairs, Christianity always influences morals and social organisation, even in a laic state. The primacy of of the individualu in is a feature here dominating.
Does a joke say that Japanese people is born shintô, reflects Confucianist and dies Buddhist. One of the characteristics of the Japanese is to assimilate quickly any foreign contribution considered enriching. It is thus religions. Thus, to the original beliefs, were added external religious influences.
The considerable influence of the natural environment was strongly translated in a deification of the natural elements giving rise to the shintoïsm, religion fundamental of Japan. This belief animist, it is at the base many structures, of the family to the social life. Its permanence is due partly to its capacity to coexist fortunately with others religions. The Emperor was guaranteeing shintô of State.
The Confucianism, arrived of China in the first centuries of Christian era, rather than a religion, constitutes a social philosophy seeking to explain things. It is a system of thought turned towards knowledge. In Japan, the doctrines Confucianist influence the social order.
Buddhism penetrated in Japan at the 5th century but it is really established through zen Buddhism about the 12th century, under Japanese influence who had studied in China. Zen allows to the Japanese to achieve the Buddhist goal who consists in seeing the world such such as it is, with a spirit of very thought or any feeling, it is a perfect abandonment of its desires and its "illusion of ego". Moreover, for the Buddhist, the things exist only if they are comparison, it is necessary to avoid the extremes, to disavow its desires which cause the suffering. Buddhism thus creates a morals which influences still considerably the practice and the thought of the Japanese.
The monks Zens also inspired the Japanese cultural models: ceremony of the tea and the theatre nô. Zen transforms esthetics in the field of the fine arts: ink painting, ceramics, architecture, art of the gardens, art to arrange the flowers (bouquets), art of the lacquer, the work of the bamboos and metals.
The Japanese sense of the beauty is a force of identification with the whole.
Even if French and Japanese are bathed today in a civilization materialist which goes hand in hand with the passing of the religious sense, their cultures and ways of life remain for a great part marked by their respective religious models.
Return to the introduction
Old Westerners cannot forget finally the image associated with Japan, it is its writing (essential element of a culture) popularized thanks to the Japanese manufactured goods, writing which, at the same time, allured strange by its sophistication and appears quite enigmatic to him.
Admittedly, this writing is not completely original since it is with the 5th century that the Japanese adopted the erudite Chinese ideograms carrying total sense. There exists nearly 50 000 kanji of which nearly 2 000 are of current use. Their study in is very difficult imposing a great discipline of training and a memory without fault to control thousands of signs. Penmanship associated with this complex writing is a true pictorial art: to order with the hand the drawing wanted by the brain, without making overflow ink, to hold the quite right brush, all that concerns virtuosity. In addition to this writing in kanji, the Japanese language enriched its expression by creation by the hiragana and katakana, simpler writings spelling-books (2 sets of 46 signs).
Contrary thus with the Japanese who involve themselves to distinguish the sense instantaneously, the French have a vision much more analytical things by using only 26 letters which they combine to form syllables, those forming in their turn a word but that remains more abstract than a drawing. The comprehension of the word prevents their immediate perception. This way of expressing and of communicating the knowledge goes hand in hand with the primacy of the reason compared to the action. In arts that as results in certain overloads and heavinesses that one can oppose to the quintessente expression of Nipponese arts.
Using an alphabet of Latin origin, like all the countries of Western cultures, our writing presents however the avantage to be an easy training for the children and to be a convenient support for the diffusion of mass, whether it is of printing works or data processing.
These different writing systems, the conditions of their training influence much the formation of the mind and the structures mental (memory and until the request different from the cerebral hemispheres) of the two people and contribute to their differences.
Return to the introduction
Naturally, it appears that between French and Japanese, the differences are essential more than the similarities. Fundamental elements such as the natural conditions, the beliefs or th writing contribute if not to oppose them, at least to make difficult their reciprocal comprehension. Even if the shape of universal culture, consumerist and materialist, seems to touch the two people, of great differences remain sometimes even beyond appearances.
Whereas the French assert the universality of their culture while proudly remaining perched at the top of their bell-tower, in all humility, the Japanese that one often regards as isolationist conservatives launch out easily to discovered of the other regions with a great desire to learn which is not new (old contributions from China and from Korea).
That one wants to enrich his personal culture or that one is to manage wishing to develop commercial contacts, it is thus necessary to lead a patient step of mutual recognition if not one port risk hasty, harmful judgements with the quality of the relations. And this discovery must pass by the experiment, with through concrete exchanges.
"Culturally, French and Japanese thus appear quite different."
Record carried out in 2000 by Armel ROUAULT, high-school girl in Rennes (class of 1st with the College Assumption),
thereafter the author carried out a 6 weeks stay in Japan
At October 1, 2003, the author is student in PARIS, in language and civilization Japanese in Langues' O
(INALCO - Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales)
and in C.P.E.I. (Centre de Préparation aux Echanges Internationaux :law, economy, accountancy, marketing...).
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@ : Thank you to send your remarks to me
I currently seek any document on the life and the culture in Japan which you could have (in particular on "the current reality of the shintô in the Japanese everyday life" and on "Chinese Taoism and Japanese shintô: which similarities ?").
I am also interested by a work for the summer 2004 in FRANCE (Paris area or area of Rennes) or in JAPAN which would wish to propose to me of the French companies having of the activities in Japan or the Japanese companies established in France.
Confucius, in Chinese Kongfuzi (551 to 479 before J-c) considered that the man must act on the basis of five virtue: kindness, uprightness, propriety, wisdom and honesty. The respect of the parents, the life and death was also one of its key concepts. The base of the doctrines is morals, a guide of life, rules of behavior. Confucius does not claim to bring innovation, but to position back the existing rules in a philosophical system based on the respect of a moral code, with Li or codes of conduct, which define the right attitude and the acceptable limits in all the types of situation.
Japan-France: reflexions on the origin and the survival of the cultural and social differences while referring to the impact on mentalities of the type of writing, the religious fact and the natural constraints. Initiatory stay opening with discovered of another world: way of life refined, purified architecture, play of full and vacuum, swarming and nature...
Japan-Frankreich: Reflexionen auf dem Ursprung und dem Überleben der kulturellen und Sozialunterschiede beim Beziehen auf die Auswirkung auf Mentalitäten der Art des Schreibens, der frommen Tatsache und der natürlichen Begrenzungen. Reflexion folgte von der Erzählung einer initiatory Reiseöffnung zu entdeckt von einer anderen Welt: Lebensart verfeinerte, gereinigte Architektur, Spiel von voll und die Vakua, von grouillement und von Natur...
Japo'n-Francia: reflexiones en el origen y la supervivencia de las diferencias culturales y sociales mientras que refiere al impacto en las mentalidades del tipo de escritura, del hecho religioso y de los apremios naturales. La reflexión siguió por la narración de una abertura initiatory del viaje a descubierto de otro mundo: la manera de la vida refinó, arquitectura purificada, juego de por completo y los vacíos, del grouillement y de la naturaleza...
La Giappone-Francia: riflessioni sull'origine e sulla sopravvivenza delle differenze culturali e sociali mentre riferendosi all'effetto sulle mentalità del tipo di scrittura, del fatto religioso e dei vincoli naturali. La riflessione è seguito dal narration di un'apertura initiatory di viaggio allo scoperto a di un altro mondo: il modo di vivere ha raffinato, architettura purificata, gioco di in pieno ed i vuoti, del grouillement e della natura...
Japão-Japan-France: reflexões a origem e a sobrevivência das diferenças cultural e sociais ao consultar ao impacto em mentalities do tipo de escrita, do fato religioso e dos confinamentes naturais. A reflexão seguiu pelo narration de uma abertura initiatory da viagem ao descoberto de um outro mundo: a maneira de vida refinou, arquitetura purified, jogo de completamente e os vácuos, o grouillement e a natureza...
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japonais, nippon, nippone, kami, kanji, écriture, idéogrammes,
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CHINE, chinois, chinoises, civilisation, mentalités, psychologie,identiteacute;,
corée, coréennes, Corée, kawasaki, suzuki, mitsubishi electric,
nissan, honda, sun microsystems, sony, yamaha, voyage, voyager, travel, touring,
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du Matin Calme, zaïbatsu, honda, suzuza, suzuki , yamaha, renault, Tokyo,
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d'Economie Mixte FINIST'AIR, société de conseil , Mirceb, Rennes
Atalante, Société BRITTANY COMPANIES REPRESENTATIVE, Brittany,
brittany, Brittany Companies Representative Min Hang Mansion, China, Qingdao,
email@example.com, ROUAULT Cyril, Rouault Cyril, Cyril ROUAULT, Georges Rouault, Rouault Georges, Phénix,
Les couleurs et par delà les peintres ne peuvent être mises en valeur
qu'au travers d'expositions ou de galeries.
tigre, dragon, kungfu, judo, arts martiaux, estampes, cerfs-volants, sake, riz,
rizières, montagnes, volcans, volcanisme, fosses océaniques, dorsales,
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Eurasie, CLAIR, CL.A.I.R., boruykudan, nihon koku, Nihon Koku, Rimbaud, professeur, langue, langage,
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honte, pinjin, dernier, last, honor code, honour code, bushido, bushidô, shrine, samourai, samouraï, cfjm - centre franco-japonais de management à Rennes, ISUGA de Quimper,