Western Ideals

The Western Evils The infiltration of western ideals into the Japanese Culture had forever changed customs and traditions of the Japanese society as a whole. Yet was it as it was stated in a 1941 pamphlet issued by the Japanese Ministry of Education entitled “The Way of the Subjects. ” “this country has been widely seeking knowledge in the world since the Meiji Restoration, thereby fostering and maintaining the prosperity of the state.
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With the influx of European and American culture in this country, however, individualism, liberalism, utilitarianism and materialism began to assert themselves, so that the traditional character of the country was much impaired and the virtuous habits and customs bequeathed by our ancestors were affected unfavorably” Had the infiltration of individualism,liberalism,utilitarianism and materialism corrupt the once glorious and honorable society of Japan? Or perhaps had it enlightened their society to a new way of thinking?

To answer these questions I’d like to give a brief highlight of how women were viewed in Japanese Culture prior to the infiltration of the western ideology. To do so I will be referencing Andrew Gordon’s book entitled: A Modern History of Japan. To start off I’d to address the role of women prior to the infiltration of western ideology. More precisely the the views of the Orthodox in the Tokugawa society, that being that “women should be kept ignorant and in the kitchen. ”[1] However that wasn’t the case rather it was that this belief was more to keep women as submissive an obedient .

It was further brought out that women worked as managers of farms for the wealthy in addition to their regular household duties. [2] So exactly how did this system change after the infiltration of the western ideology? Well to answer this question I’m going to reference Funichiro Tanizaki’s book entitled: Some Prefer Nettles and Nakano Makiko’s book entitled: Makiko’s Diary. When we look upon the example set by Makiko in Nakano Makiko’s book entitled: Makiko’s Diary, we can see no change in the sense of a submissive an obedient partner.

An example of this can be taken from how Makiko’s spouse frequently parties and she waits up for him every night. [3] However the change that is displayed by Makiko is that of becoming more materialistic. This can be seen through out the text as she speaks of the gifts that they had received an especially when she talks about the camera that they had came to posses. [4] So what of the example set forth by Funichiro Tanizaki’s book entitled: Some Prefer Nettles? Well as seen in the beginning of the book Kaname’s wife Misako was anything but loyal.

This is clearly show through the fact that his wife had another lover by the name of Aso. [5] Another theme that found its way through this book as well is the materialistic desires of the people in their society. A picture is painted through the illustration of the prostitute that Kaname goes to see by the name of louise. In the book it speaks of how she has a taste for things western and of course money. [6] Given these examples can it honestly be said that the infiltration of western ideology had corrupted the Japanese Culture?

Well as we can clearly see, yes there was a big difference between what was acceptable prior to the infiltration of western ideology, then to as it was after. However to say that it was because of the infiltration of western ideology that made this all come to be is rather a foolish statement. The fact is that these ideologies; individualism, liberalism, utilitarianism and materialism are merely nothing more then human nature. It can honestly be said that with the infiltration of western ideology the Japanese people were allowed to be more free to express themselves more freely then before.

Then again I maybe wrong, partly because according to the Japanese Ministry of Education I have been corrupted by these western evils. ———————– [1]Andrew Gordon: “A Modern History of Japan” (Oxford University Press,2009), 32 [2]Gordon, 33 [3]Nakano Makiko, “ Makiko’s Diary”(Stanford University Press,1982),102 [4]Makiko,150-152 [5]Funichiro Tanizaki, “Some Prefer Nettles” (First Vintage International Edition,1955),4 [6]Tanizaki,165-171