Table Speech


“Reproduction of Wakon Yosai(Japanese Spirit with Western Knowledge) and Wakon Kansai(Japanese Spirit with Chinese Knowledge)”

March 28, 2007

Ms. Wang Min,
Professor, International Japanese Study Research Institute, Hosei University
Dr. Human Science

1.Wisdom of Japan: Japanese Spirit with Western Knowledge and Japanese Spirits with Chinese Knowledge.

In the last few years, many countries of the world consider Japan gave good influence to the world and I think this is because Japan developed utilizing both Japanese Spirit with Western Knowledge and Japanese Spirits with Chinese Knowledge.

 Some say this wisdom existed in Genji Monogatari and some say you can find it in the writings of Sugawara Michizane.

 Yukichi Fukuzawa states in his “Gakumon no Susume (1872)” “It is not correct to state that study is only to read Japanese, Western and Chinese books.” Soseki Natsume wrote in his “Danpen” “Japanese are people without attachment.”

 Ogai Mori wrote in his “Discussing the progress of study of Western civilization” “You may draw some lessons from it.” He criticized both Japanese and Western ways, commenting “They are advanced spiritually as well as technically. Our people can imitate and respect them.”

 Jyunichiro Tanizaki states in his article “In Japan, teaching of China and West looks like two extremes. But actually they are close to each other.”
I wish to study the statement of Jyunichiro Tanizaki. By understanding both Chinese and Western study, we would be able to see the plus factor and minus factor of the two cultures.

2.Japan facing West and China
Japan faced two cultures and learned from them and reproduced them.
This created two international relations. Namely Japan/West and Japan/China.
Western countries wondered whether they should classify Japan as part of Chinese culture or as a unique case separate from other Asian countries.

 As for China, “Kaikoku Zushi” of Gigen did not have description of Japan in its50th edition nor in its 60th edition. In 1852, its 100th edition has “Japan” for the first time. But the description was a quotation from a history book of Ming period. That was the way China looked at Japan. There were large discrepancy between the real Japan and knowledge of Japan by Chinese. 
In Japan, Tokugawa Yoshimune abolished the prohibition of reading western books in 1720 and scholars started to read western books. Sakuma Shozan, Yoshida Shoin and others started to discuss how to face the influence of western countries.

 In China, So Koku Han and Li Kou Sho stated their thinking about western countries.

3.Search for the multicultural co-existing model
For present Japan, how to maintain continuous development of the country is a serious problem.

 My personal opinion is that each country has the people who support its traditional culture and the people who look at its traditional culture as an outsider. It is important to seek multi-cultural co-existence model for every country.

 Such models were sought for by Japanese. It goes back to the days of Kentoshi, (Japanese Mission sent to Tang) and Abeno Nakamaro was the typical man who searched for such cultural pattern.

 There are many Japanese who searched for multicultural pattern. Mr. Takemitsu Toru (composer) is the one who attracted the attention of western people.
At the beginning of Meiji Period, the Japanese were just like children as far as western music was concerned, but as time went by, some Japanese became excellent in western music.

 Because of such an example, it can be pointed out that an outsider of some culture can become an insider of another culture.

 Examples of westerners in Japan, Koizumi Yakumo, Ganjin, Shu Shun Sui and Alex Carr, who wrote “Dogs and Devil” and is currently active, are the ones who understand Japan as an cultural insider. I believe the effort of such difficult search for the multi-cultural co-existence model will continue.

The existence of multi-culture will become more and more important. Culture of each country has its own specialty but it will be necessary to challenge and build multi-cultural structure.

 For this purpose, it is necessary to recognize the mixed culture of local and global culture. Wakon Yosai (Japanese Spirit with Western Knowledge) and Wakon Kansai (Japanese Spirit with Chinese Knowledge) of Japan is the model of this approach.

The existence of mixed culture in the modern period is developing all over the world. No country can deny the characteristics of this situation.

 In 1950s, European Area Policy was established. We can learn from “Recognition of mutual study process”. “Investment to the culture” is also suggested.

There are some excellent Japanese who searched such direction. Kenji Miyazawa is one of them. Kotaro Takamura wrote of Kenji Miyazawa as follows. “Those who have cosmos (universe) within himself can leave from local existence and those who does not have cosmos within himself will exist only in his locality, even if he exists in the center of the world. A Poet of Hanamaki, Iwateken, Kenji Miyazawa is the one who owned cosmos.”

Hegel wrote “Barriers between the different cultures are not impossible to break.”

4.One other relationship between Japan and China: Cultural relationship
It is time to reconstruct the relationship between Japan and China. It will be necessary to reconstruct from the cultural point of view. In the past, in spite of the war, sending missions from Japan to Tang never stopped. The cultural exchange continued despite the war.

 Human relationship, personal contact must be re-established. Efforts by businessman and cultural people are expected in order to attain this purpose.

I wish to stress the importance of the cultural exchange of young people. Communication between young people of different cultures is important to construct peace to secure peace. Many of the Chinese classic bronze ware have the engraving saying “Should be used for long time by many generations of descendents.” The deep meaning of this saying should be understood.
These words have deeper meaning in China than in Japan and I hope you will understand the deeper meaning.

5.Present situation of culture between Japan and China: Reconstruction of same culture and same interpretation.

Japan and China have to mutually understand their cultural relationship with each other. There is a word “Same culture, same interpretation”. We have to re-evaluate this word again.

I wish to point out some difference between Japanese culture and Chinese culture.

 In Japanese culture, it is respected to convey message by thoughtfulness without saying it directly. In China, you are supposed to express your opinion, yes or no, clearly.

“Conveying message by heart without saying it” must come from Buddhism but even in the same Buddhism culture countries, the interpretation is quite different. The story of the fox with nine tails in China and Korea is the fox becomes a bad girl and mislead the king. Then the fox is killed. But in Japan, the fox was released from evil by the help of Buddhist priest. In Japan, memorial service for chicken is held by Kentucky Fried Chicken Company and Chinese and Americans can not understand it.

It is not an issue of right or wrong. It is important to recognize that difference of cultures and reconsider the classical same culture thinking.

6.Effort of mutual study.
It was at the time of change from Japanese Spirit with Chinese Knowledge to Japanese Spirit with Western Knowledge. Perry came to Japan with a Chinese interpreter. When Perry came to Japan for his first visit, , he took a Dutch interpreter. For his second visit, he took with him Rashin, a Chinese interpreter, because Perry knew Japanese are well versed with Chinese. Rashin described what he had seen in Japan and stated that Japanese were well versed with Chinese and appreciate Chinese poems. Rashin was asked by Japanese officers “Why do you work for foreigners, while Rashin is a man from the country of Confucius and Mencius?” This indicates the Japanese view of China.
Each and every country has the difficulties in the process of improvement and changes. We have to look back in history and learn and try to construct better relationships between Japan and China.