Quote Japan

Interesting, odd, outrageous or informative quotes about Japan

Society – Quotes about social class, privacy etc. in Japan

“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 in Japan, A Reinterpretation

“Marginality is easy to come by and hard to lose in Japan, and that hazard is a powerful disincentive to be in any way “different”. Those so marked of course don’t want their children to suffer the same stigma. While intellectuals and critics may look for the social climate to change so that children can be more independent, the adults themselves will limit the risks of diferentness to the maximum extent possible.” Merry White

“Although individual Japanese incline towards conformity, the nation as a whole believes itself to be utterly unique… Hence we have a kind of ‘national individualism’” Merry White
“everyone [in a group] is not only supposed to think and act alike, they are also supposed to be equal in ability” Boye Lafayette De Mente

“As Kurt Singer has said, let the Westerner try to sincerely live by Japanese customs ‘and he will instantly feel what a cell endowed with rudiments of human sensibility must be supposed to feel in a well-coordinated body” Donald Ritchie

“Harmony and its Tensions” A very telling chapter heading by Ronald P Dore

“The lack of what in other societies might be valued as ‘privacy’ is part of what it means to be a ‘member’ of a community like Shinohata” Ronald P Dore

“… one of Shinohata’s two ‘bullies’, not to put too fine a point on the capacity for getting away with overbearing behaviour by presuming on one’s neighbour’s mild mannered preference for harmony and the avoidance of confrontation” Ronald P Dore

“The idea that the individual should be the starting point, and that social arrangements are the result of a social contract for mutual convenience… is a relatively new one even in Europe. It has even more tenuous roots in Japan” Ronald P Dore

“Every month the township Newsletter designates that month’s subject for family discussion… Let parents and children together discuss what TV programmes they wish to watch, and let us decide jointly and amicably…” An impressively Confucian piece of busybodyness, described by Ronald P Dore

“Tomorrow is the agreed day for spring cleaning, so will everybody please do their spring-cleaning. Don’t forget to take out your tatami mats and beat them, and the Health Committee reminds you to take particular care with your kitchen” One of several daily village loudspeaker announcements in a Japanese village (not North Korea!), described by Ronald P Dore

 “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”

“Japanese tend to have a deep-seated dislike, even contempt, for weakness” from “Kata” by Lafayette De Mente (2003)

“Samurai were rather alike no matter where they were, but merchants and farmers were not” Donald Ritchie, giving yet more proof that the homogeneous standardisation of Japan was very much a class-based thing- quite similar to the standardized RP English in the UK. In “Tokyo” (Reaktion Books, 1999)

“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, The Land of the Rising Yen
(The basic criticism of Japanese manners seems to be that)

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