Kyoto Journal Issue 4
Architecture and Preservation in Kyoto
How to become Japanese: The Psychologist’s Guide
Visionary Entrepreneur: Kyocera’s Inamori Kazuo
Poems by Japanese Children
Recession and Innovation in the Kimono Business
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North Americans who have lived in Japan for any length of time soon come to realize that, in spite of superficial similarities, the Japanese culture is quite different from their own, and that there is practically nothing that an individual North American can do to change this culture. The “shikata ga nai” (it can’t be helped) philosophy comes as a shock to those North Americans who were raised to believe that if one just rolls up one’s sleeves and gets to work, all kinds of change can be realized: “.. .the all-American hero can never accept the world for what it is: it can always be better; that is what he originally came to America for.” (Buruma, p. 184) A tremendous amount of the stress of acculturation for North Americans in Japan arises from the interpersonal tension between their self-assertive and individualized selves and the self-effacing and collectively-minded Japanese.
—Kate Partridge, How to Become Japanese: a Guide for North Americans
Although Tokyoites often call it furukusai (stinking of antiquity), Kyoto is a modern city, too. It has not rushed headlong into “Goodbye History, Hello Hamburger” development, nor has it become a dead urban museum. It has taken a middle way that allowed American historian John Whitney Hall to say: “Kyoto more than Tokyo forces upon us an awareness of the conflicts and tensions which still can be found in Japanese life, posing constantly the question of where Japan’s historical past fits into its modern present.”
—Gunter Nitschke, A Sense of Place: Urban Preservation and Renewal in Kyoto
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