Quote Japan

Interesting, odd, outrageous or informative quotes about Japan

Class- Quotes about social position in Japan (samurai, working class, Shitamachi etc.)

 “Much in Japanese aesthetics is determined by social dynamics and one-upmanship… The salient features of Japanese culture-wabi sabi, less is more, Zenism, etc.- thus appear as attempts to constantly outflank and counter the gaudy flash and panache of the nouveau riche… Japanese aesthetics are revealed as the product of this social competitiveness, of the desire to find yet more subtle shades of meaning and beauty than the next guy.” C.B.Liddell in a review of A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics by Donald Ritchie in Metropolis magazine, Dec 28 2007

“Famously, 90% of the post war Japanese long believed they were part of the middle class- an impossibility, but an article of faith nonetheless” Patrick Smith

“Japan had a culture… simple cultivators rooted in the community. There was no rigorous moral code, no hierarchy, no distinction between man and nature. The Japanese liked to drink and dance, and they ate with their hands from plates of bamboo” the impression of the first Chinese visitors to Japan, quoted Patrick Smith, describing what many analysts see as the real working class culture of Japan before everyone was supposed to act as a samurai after the Meiji restoration

“The warrior class, which made up about 10% of the population, were fierce fighters who tended to be aggressive and arrogant. The common people were characteristically polite, kind, generous, hospitable, trust-worthy and diligent” Boye Lafayette De Mente in “Kata” (2003) on something that is still true now- just put the words “politicians” or “self made businessmen” in the place of the “warrior class”

“…because it was competition in terms of new ‘imported’ school knowledge, not in terms of mastery of a traditional family-transmitted culture- the handicap of the poor and lower status groups was probably less great than in European societies which evolved with greater cultural continuity” Ronald P Dore

“The poorer you were, the less property counted, the more you could afford to live by impulse. But with universal schooling and a rise in living levels the more formal canons of respectability spread from the upper to the lower strata of villagers and formally arranged ‘good matches’ became the norm. The old custom of ‘night-crawling’- teenage boys creeping into a girl’s bedroom at night… gradually died out.” Ronald P. Dore

“The true samurai refused to learn arithmetic because it smelled of commerce; he was proud of his ignorance and stupidity like so many ruling classes all over the world” George Mikes

“Women, too, have a greater variety of best clothes, and now they can begin to afford the extravagance of the Japanese kimono… What to Westerners are simply symbols of Japaneseness, to Shinohata women are symbols of an expensive middle-class way of life which they can only now begin to afford” Another expensive ‘tradition’ that booms while less high status ones die away, Ronald P. Dore

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