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March 10, 2011

Amotsuki, the old word for Mochi-Tsuki or Rice Cake Making

Amotsuki, the old word for Mochi-Tsuki or Rice Cake Making by timtak
Amotsuki, the old word for Mochi-Tsuki or Rice Cake Making a photo by timtak on Flickr.

In this Japanese dictionary (koujien 4th edition) it says that, "Amotsuki," an old but not defunct word for "mochi-tsuki" which means "beating rice to make rice cakes", was used as a metaphor for "boji," which means sex.

The rice beating ritual performed at New Year gave me that (sexual) impression, especially when, as is traditional, a woman turns the rice while her husband beats it. In the ritual that I saw performed, and took part in, a woman would kneel or crouch down beside the "usu" (bowl) and make noises indicating when the person holding the big hammer should beat the rice cake. Apparently quite a lot of males die each year of heart attack as they wield their hammer. The ritual is quite hard work. The men build up a sweat. The rice cake becomes more and more gooey. The thwack resounds. Finally everyone rejoices partaking of the gooey rice cake. It is quite a carbohydrate high after all that exertion. Bearing in mind the shape of the tools used, I made an interpretation which prompted my my Japanese friends to call me a pervert. Then one day I was reading my dictionary and came accross the entry above.

It may be quite irrelevant and coincidental but since the Shinto-Amaterasu myth is represented in Shinto New-Year's festivities, the fact that a ritual seen as a metaphor for sex (at least in times past) should take a central role in the festivities suggests that perhaps there is a similarly metaphorical episode in the Susano Amaterasu myth. At least one resarcher has suggested that the bit where Susano-O throws a backwards skinned horse into the clothing room of Amaterasu such that one of her weavers dies as a result of a shuttle entering her vagina, may be a metaphor for sex.

Posted by timtak at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2011

Echo and Narcissus as Amaterasu and Susano in a Mirror

Echo and Narcissus as Amaterasu and Susano in a Mirror by timtak
Echo and Narcissus as Amaterasu and Susano in a Mirror a photo by timtak on Flickr.
Painting by John William Waterhouse

Before I go on to talk about the next part of Amaterasu and Suano-o I would like to reiterate the relevance of John Brenkman's paper (1976) "Narcissus in the text," which is hailed as a great example of Derridean deconstruction (Culler, 1993)

Derridean deconstruction has two interlinked aspects. One is a rhetorical analysis of Western philosophy, the other a theory about our attitude towards the media, -phonemes - of Western language. Derrida argues that Western philosophers use certain rhetorical techniques in order assert the descriptive power of Western alphabetic/phonetic languages, and their absolute truthiness. The rhetorical endeavour, would be deception that Derrida attempts to expose, is called logo-centrism.

Derrida claims that western philosophers from Plato to Searle set up a dichotomy between two types of language, and then trash one side of the dichotomy, making it a sort of scapegoat to the truthiness of the other side: the phonemes in mind, that might grasp ideas, the logos. E.g. Plato and others point to, bah, writing and compare it to speech (and thought) and claim that writing is just, an inferior concrete copy of speech, which when it occurs in mind is complete free of the constraints of the physical world, enabling it phonetic speech to express pre-existing ideas. Or Searle talks about "speech acts" like writing, another form of dirty, worldly, speech that does things. E.g. "I promise," and "I bet," which as well as being speech also perform an action. These performatory speech acts are compared with pure descriptive, truthy speech, that express true ideas about the world. In each case, philosophers create an unequal dichotomy to bolster the continued belief in the power of phonetic speech to grasp chimerical "ideas." Derrida points out that, rather than being inferior and excludable, writing, speech acts are essential, both in that they are needed in rhetoric as sacrificial victims or straw men, and because in fact all speech is always part corporeal (like writing) and always partly an act (like speech acts). And that is Derrida in my nutshell.

While Freud uses the Myth of Narcissus to explain how children first start identifying with their image in mirrors - an example he tells us of self love, he does not go into detail about the myth nor does he mention the other major character Echo, at all. Brenkman does a good job of deconstructing the Myth of Narcissus.

As is predicted would be his downfall (don't let him see his reflection! said the sage), Narcissus falls in love with his reflection. Narcissus love for a mere image, is raised almost as an object of ridicule and used as a name of a disease to this day. At the same time, all this time Echo, who only appears in the myth's dialogue, repeating the words that Narcissus speaks, is seen as a tragic figure, who dies of unrequited love for a narcissist. Brenkman points out that this myth shows the same rhetorical techniques and objectives as pointed out by Derrida in Western philosophy. There are two copies of Narcissus. His image and his echoed words. His image is trashed as being (as images are always trashed as being) mere image. His words however, taken female form, are seen as coming from a real, good, loving supernatural person, with not merely the power to copy, but to speak and say the truth of her love. Brenkman could have argued that the myth of Narcissus gets in at the ground floor of Western philosophy (as seen by Derrida) in that it is the first to displays all the deconstruct-able rhetoric, and intent to deceive. At the same time Brenkman could also have pointed out that the myth gives the game away, laying its cards on the table, and deconstructs itself: Echo is called echo! It inscribes itself with a warning to all now and future Narcissists, "look at my trick ye mighty, and be aware."

The structure of the myth of Narcissus is as follows
1) Narcissus's image is just a copy, a bad copy, a deceptive copy. It is certainly not alive. It is a nothing, a chimera allowing gross and misplaced self love.
2) Narcissus's phonetic speech is truthy. Though "it" is only a copy of what Narcisuss says, "it" is not an it at all but being, a tragic, supernatural being that loves, means, meaningfully loves the protagonist.
3) But even though it is the speech that, as always, comes out the winner, the image plays an essential part of the story. The image is the scapegoat, the nub of jokes, that nasty deceptive bit to be Derided (Derrida's pun). The image is needed both for the suspension of unbelief, and for subsequent defamiliarization (Brecht) to take place.
3.1) If it were just a story about some "echo" loving some guy, no one would be able to see the echo as a person at all, let alone a tragic hero.
3.2) If it were not for the mirror image, then we would never be able to come back to the realisation that, "oh ****! Echo is just a copy. She is not, we are not, really people at all!"(1)
4) Echo is Narcissus, queered. Echo is just Narcissus's speech, but she is also a woman.

This structure is the precise opposite of what seems to be being played out in the Myth of Amaterasu and Susano.

There is two type of copying, one trashed, the other lauded as real, one male one queered, and the whole thing providing an opportunity for self-realisation. I will cover it in my next post to the Shintoml mailing list.

Notes
(1) Everyone has seen Sixth Sense? Lacan claims that we just speech, just a copy, and in that sense, always, already dead.

The above is based upon my paper "The Structure of the Kojiki and the Specular Self of the Japanese" (in Japanese), and personal experience.

Posted by timtak at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2010

Central Figures in Shinto

Who are the major figures in Shinto, I was asked perhaps by someone attempting to write a report for their religion class. My answer was Amateras the spirit of the sun.


Some would argue that she is not all that important at all and only became important as a result of the post Meiji imperialisation of Shinto but, being a fan of the Kurozumi Kyou sect I am inclined to put her (she was once a guy) in the top spot as orthorodox and nationalist scholars would agree.


 In second place, for my money is Amaterasu's father, Izanagi who helped to pull the world out of the brine and is the Adam or perhaps Eve of Japanese myth of the fall. Then their is his wife, Izanami who is perhaps the origin of all scariest of Japanese Horror movies. Then, as a fan of Kagura I would have to recommend Susanoo as the slayer of that eight headed dragon, Amaterasu's sister and a god of war.


Then for those that like Shinto old style, more natural perhaps, before the arrival of the Shining princes, then Ookuninushi the chief of the spirits of the land that resides in the Grand Shrine at Izumo, who helps those who come and pray to him, good luck in love. Hachiman or Oujin deserves a mention since there are more Shrines to him than to any other spirit.


There are plenty of other spirits that are important but, with regard to humans the nationalist Shinto scholars Motoori Norinaga and Hirata Atsutane also deserve mention as thinkers that shaped the way that Shinto is percieved.

Posted by timtak at 05:59 PM | Comments (0)

Gay and Lesbians in Shinto

Generally speaking there is less "coming out" in Japan. I can think of a few possible reasons for this


1) Groupism In the tight knit groupy world which is Japan, coming out will mean that one brands ones family has having a "not-normal-person" (from the point of view of the prejudiced majority), so people are less likely to admit their peculiarities, for fear of bring disrepute upon their groups. In general groupism promotes the need for harmony, and sameness. I don't happen to believe that the Japanese are particular collectivist, so I don't subsubcribe to this explanation.


2) A greater degree of taboo on homosexuality. This is even less likely since there is historically a respected tradition of homosexuality in Japan among the clergy, and warrior class. There was a time not so long ago, when it was looked upon as rather noble c.f. the novels of Ihara Saikaku such as the famous Great Mirror of Male love "5 women who love love" which I recommend some scholarly works, such as the following introduction, some of the jokes in "the chrisantemum and the fish"


3) Generally less importance placed upon sexuality as being definitive of the person. This is what I have argued in previous posts. In Japan there are people that are transsexual in that they prefer to behave as expected of the opposite sex. They, some of these "okama" or queens are quite famous, often express a sexual preference for people of the same sex. However, there seems to be a dearth of interest in defining ones sexual orientation, in isolation. For example, there was a fairly popular humorous manga in which one of the male characters enjoyed anal sex with his girlfriend's shoes, and generally the pleasures of anal sexuality and even the pleasures of homosexual sex between men seems to be something that that is presented as having a more general appeal. Sexual "orientation" is thus presented as more of something that one does rather than who one is. Hence defining ones sexual orientation "Am I more into boys or girls?" and further then defining who one is on the basis of ones sexual orientation, "Am I a gay" does not seem to be so common, due to the less central, less self defining, less sacred-and-tabooed position that sex has in Japanese society.

Posted by timtak at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2004

Amae

I am told that Shusaku Endo, the Japanese Catholic novelist, sought a 'maternal Christ', believing that Japan as a land of 'amaeru' had a childlike dependence on a merciful compassionate mother. This notion, that the Japanese are inclined to amaeru, may ultimately derive, as Takeo Doi suggested, from a belief in humans as the children of kami and in particular Amaterasu.


Takeo Doi became famous with his classic book, The Anatomy of Dependence The title in Japanese is "Amae no Kouzou" ("The Structure of Amae") where Amae is the noun form of the verb "amaeru." The book is de rigeur for those that study the psychology of the Japanese, and highly respected academically. Doi's theory of Amae is quoted by most papers or books in this field. Doi has written several other books since and there are books about his theory written by other authors. For example, Susumu Yamaguchi of Tokyo Unviersity and x-head of a leading cultural psychology conference in Asia, started his research life investigating amae(ru) using questionnaires and or perhaps experiments. Osamu Kitayama, x-popstar and well known Japanese psychologist has edited a book of psycho-clinical papers on amae. All in all, amae(ru) is considered to be a critical, key word when attempting to explain Japanese culture.

Amae(ru) is according to Dr. Takeo Doi a word that cannot be directly translated into English. Doi starts out by making a Sapir-Whorf hypothesis based observation that any word that exists in one language but cannot be expressed easily in others, refers to a phenomena which is culturally important in culture of the first language, but not so important in the culture of the others which lack a means of its expression.


It is very true that Amae(ru) does not translate well into English. I would use "(to) fawn upon" or perhaps "to be a baby," or "to be cute." It refers to the action and emotional state of mind of a baby towards its mother (care giver). By "emotional state" I mean that it involves the expectation, need or desire to evoke the love in the other. Another way of putting amae(ru) is "passive love" i.e. feeling and behaving in such a way as to be loved (by a parent). It does not refer to being sexy, flirting or pouting or all the other ways of attracting eros (i.e. being "erotic" ?) but ways of attracting what C.S. Lewis calls "affection," the love of parents towards children. So amae is anticipating, and behaving in such a way as to receive love, affection, or induldence. The last word is moot too since the active form of amae in Japanese, amayakasu is usually traslated as "to indulge". One of Doi's most accessible examples is the behaviour of a puppy. A puppy (or an older dog, since dogs are always children to their masters) might roll on its back and wait for its belly to be stroked. Or it might come up to you wagging not only its tail, panting, and looking you in the eye. This is partly just being happy to see you but it is also a call for affection.


On top of the fact that Doi's insight regardign Amae started from a Sapir-Whorfian insight, it has a yet stronger relationship with language, or rather the lack of language. This connection can be approached in two ways.


First of all Doi's first, and for me most memorable, example of amae, is from when he arrived in the USA and visited a friend. His friend put some cookies or something on a table and said "If you are hungry, please help yourself." Coming from the culture of "amae," Doi felt put out. He was hungry, but he was in an amae frame of mind. He did not want to say, "Well I don't mind if I do," and tuck into the cookies. He wanted his host to actively perceive ("sasshi") that he was hungry and give him a plate of cookies. He wanted to be mollycoddled. The word "mollycoddle," not so common in English, helps us to understand the term amae. Some one who wants to be mollycoddled does not articulate their desire but hopes by their person or their actions to elicit indulgence from an other without the use of language. As soon as they put their desire into language they are putting themselves on an equal footing, as another separate desiring individual - but the person who "amaes" (if I am allowed to conjugate the verb) wants to merge (Doi argues) with the other.


This brings us on to the second connection between amae and the absence of language. Doi, argues that amae is the desire to merge with the other, as if (?) still not an independent entity, and puts forward a theory of individuality (quite common these days among narrative psychologists) that says that being an individual is to linguistically articulate oneself and ones desires. To amae is to refuse to go down that path to linguistic self-hood. 


Endo Shusaku is possibly Japan's most famous Christian. Not only was he a Christian but also, as mentioned above, he tried to define a sort of Japanese Christianity. Indeed, Endo Shusaku attempted to take the best of Christian and Japanese culture to propose a more Japanese, and in a sense an even more Christian version of Christianity! In perhaps his most famous book ("Silence") Endo Shusaku raised the question of the martyr, the person that sacrifices themselves for others. The Christian bible tells us, "There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend." However, Endo suggests that there is greater love. Endo seems to come to the conclusion that the ultimate "martyr" could and would lay down his life for another, but ultimately she would also refrain for doing so, even if it meant rejecting all that she had lived for, if she felt that she would be held as an example, and thus encourage friends to lay down their lives as well. Putting it as tritely as this does not do service to Endo's sentiment but, Endo argues (successfully judging by the rave reviews from Western Catholics at Amazon.com) that sometimes it is even more difficult to *live on*.


Living on, even when this means not being entirely true to ones beliefs, is close to the philosophy of the Bodhisattva, such as. Kannon. A Bodhisattva is someone that could throw off their ego and reach nirvana/satori but decides to hang around, at the brink of satori, in the hope, working towards the day when, all other sentient beings reach nirvana/satori too.


It also reminds me of "About Schmidt" a film I saw today, in which the hero, played by Jack Nicholson, doesn't say what he really thinks, what he really believes, but chooses a polite, positive *silence* for the sake of those that he loves (perhaps a controversial reading of this bleak, but real and interesting film.)


Putting Endo's question back in terms of a possibly non PC gender related question: "who loves more, the fathers that go to war -- perhaps to die -- to protect those they loves, or the mothers that refuses to go to war, and would rather live in slavery, and abjection, for the same reason?" I think that opinions are likely to be divided. I am afraid that my sentiment is on the side of the warrior, but one might argue that a true blue Shinto-ist would come out on the side of the mother.


Shusaku Endo is a very famous novelist. His books are even more popular among Japanese Christians, who make up less than 1% of Japanese Christians.


Takeo Doi is also, as far as I am aware, a Japanese Christian. It is concievable therefore, in my opinion, that Takeo Doi  may have been in part, subliminally inspired by the novels of Shusaku Endo. This is however, highly unlikely since (as kindly pointed out by Maraku below) Doi makes no mention of Shusaku in Amae no Kouzou. Takeo Doi does however, suggest, in the first chapter of his seminal work, that the origin of the word amae may be related to the name of the deity at the top of the Japanese panthenon, Amaterasu Oomikami. This suggests to me a common sensitivity motivating Shusaku Endo's and Takeo Doi's realisation that Japan is a country of amae. To Japanese Christians as they both are, it may be striking that there is a strong difference between their own religion, as expressed in the Bible, and that of the majority of Japanese who are much more enclined to amaeru to, request indulgence of, their deities.


Thanks to VikingSlav for the first paragraph and inspiration for this article.

N.B.
I would like to apologize for an earlier version of this article that suggested a closer link between the work of Shusaku Endo and Takeo Doi. This suggestion was entirely my own and based entirely upon supposition and speculation. In any event, nothing can be taken from Takeo Doi's immense achievement of making the notion of amae available to generations of psychologists, some of whom use the theory to cure people. And incidentally, academically, I am of course not fit to wipe Dr. Doi's shoes.

Posted by timtak at 06:47 PM | Comments (8)

Amae

I am told that Shusaku Endo, the Japanese Catholic novelist, sought a 'maternal Christ', believing that Japan as a land of 'amaeru' had a childlike dependence on a merciful compassionate mother. This notion, that the Japanese are inclined to amaeru, may ultimately derive, as Takeo Doi suggested, from a belief in humans as the children of kami and in particular Amaterasu.


Takeo Doi became famous with his classic book, The Anatomy of Dependence The title in Japanese is "Amae no Kouzou" ("The Structure of Amae") where Amae is the noun form of the verb "amaeru." The book is de rigeur for those that study the psychology of the Japanese, and highly respected academically. Doi's theory of Amae is quoted by most papers or books in this field. Doi has written several other books since and there are books about his theory written by other authors. For example, Susumu Yamaguchi of Tokyo Unviersity and x-head of a leading cultural psychology conference in Asia, started his research life investigating amae(ru) using questionnaires and or perhaps experiments. Osamu Kitayama, x-popstar and well known Japanese psychologist has edited a book of psycho-clinical papers on amae. All in all, amae(ru) is considered to be a critical, key word when attempting to explain Japanese culture.

Amae(ru) is according to Dr. Takeo Doi a word that cannot be directly translated into English. Doi starts out by making a Sapir-Whorf hypothesis based observation that any word that exists in one language but cannot be expressed easily in others, refers to a phenomena which is culturally important in culture of the first language, but not so important in the culture of the others which lack a means of its expression.


It is very true that Amae(ru) does not translate well into English. I would use "(to) fawn upon" or perhaps "to be a baby," or "to be cute." It refers to the action and emotional state of mind of a baby towards its mother (care giver). By "emotional state" I mean that it involves the expectation, need or desire to evoke the love in the other. Another way of putting amae(ru) is "passive love" i.e. feeling and behaving in such a way as to be loved (by a parent). It does not refer to being sexy, flirting or pouting or all the other ways of attracting eros (i.e. being "erotic" ?) but ways of attracting what C.S. Lewis calls "affection," the love of parents towards children. So amae is anticipating, and behaving in such a way as to receive love, affection, or induldence. The last word is moot too since the active form of amae in Japanese, amayakasu is usually traslated as "to indulge". One of Doi's most accessible examples is the behaviour of a puppy. A puppy (or an older dog, since dogs are always children to their masters) might roll on its back and wait for its belly to be stroked. Or it might come up to you wagging not only its tail, panting, and looking you in the eye. This is partly just being happy to see you but it is also a call for affection.


On top of the fact that Doi's insight regardign Amae started from a Sapir-Whorfian insight, it has a yet stronger relationship with language, or rather the lack of language. This connection can be approached in two ways.


First of all Doi's first, and for me most memorable, example of amae, is from when he arrived in the USA and visited a friend. His friend put some cookies or something on a table and said "If you are hungry, please help yourself." Coming from the culture of "amae," Doi felt put out. He was hungry, but he was in an amae frame of mind. He did not want to say, "Well I don't mind if I do," and tuck into the cookies. He wanted his host to actively perceive ("sasshi") that he was hungry and give him a plate of cookies. He wanted to be mollycoddled. The word "mollycoddle," not so common in English, helps us to understand the term amae. Some one who wants to be mollycoddled does not articulate their desire but hopes by their person or their actions to elicit indulgence from an other without the use of language. As soon as they put their desire into language they are putting themselves on an equal footing, as another separate desiring individual - but the person who "amaes" (if I am allowed to conjugate the verb) wants to merge (Doi argues) with the other.


This brings us on to the second connection between amae and the absence of language. Doi, argues that amae is the desire to merge with the other, as if (?) still not an independent entity, and puts forward a theory of individuality (quite common these days among narrative psychologists) that says that being an individual is to linguistically articulate oneself and ones desires. To amae is to refuse to go down that path to linguistic self-hood. 


Endo Shusaku is possibly Japan's most famous Christian. Not only was he a Christian but also, as mentioned above, he tried to define a sort of Japanese Christianity. Indeed, Endo Shusaku attempted to take the best of Christian and Japanese culture to propose a more Japanese, and in a sense an even more Christian version of Christianity! In perhaps his most famous book ("Silence") Endo Shusaku raised the question of the martyr, the person that sacrifices themselves for others. The Christian bible tells us, "There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend." However, Endo suggests that there is greater love. Endo seems to come to the conclusion that the ultimate "martyr" could and would lay down his life for another, but ultimately she would also refrain for doing so, even if it meant rejecting all that she had lived for, if she felt that she would be held as an example, and thus encourage friends to lay down their lives as well. Putting it as tritely as this does not do service to Endo's sentiment but, Endo argues (successfully judging by the rave reviews from Western Catholics at Amazon.com) that sometimes it is even more difficult to *live on*.


Living on, even when this means not being entirely true to ones beliefs, is close to the philosophy of the Bodhisattva, such as. Kannon. A Bodhisattva is someone that could throw off their ego and reach nirvana/satori but decides to hang around, at the brink of satori, in the hope, working towards the day when, all other sentient beings reach nirvana/satori too.


It also reminds me of "About Schmidt" a film I saw today, in which the hero, played by Jack Nicholson, doesn't say what he really thinks, what he really believes, but chooses a polite, positive *silence* for the sake of those that he loves (perhaps a controversial reading of this bleak, but real and interesting film.)


Putting Endo's question back in terms of a possibly non PC gender related question: "who loves more, the fathers that go to war -- perhaps to die -- to protect those they loves, or the mothers that refuses to go to war, and would rather live in slavery, and abjection, for the same reason?" I think that opinions are likely to be divided. I am afraid that my sentiment is on the side of the warrior, but one might argue that a true blue Shinto-ist would come out on the side of the mother.


Shusaku Endo is a very famous novelist. His books are even more popular among Japanese Christians, who make up less than 1% of Japanese Christians.


Takeo Doi is also, as far as I am aware, a Japanese Christian. It is concievable therefore, in my opinion, that Takeo Doi  may have been in part, subliminally inspired by the novels of Shusaku Endo. This is however, highly unlikely since (as kindly pointed out by Maraku below) Doi makes no mention of Shusaku in Amae no Kouzou. Takeo Doi does however, suggest, in the first chapter of his seminal work, that the origin of the word amae may be related to the name of the deity at the top of the Japanese panthenon, Amaterasu Oomikami. This suggests to me a common sensitivity motivating Shusaku Endo's and Takeo Doi's realisation that Japan is a country of amae. To Japanese Christians as they both are, it may be striking that there is a strong difference between their own religion, as expressed in the Bible, and that of the majority of Japanese who are much more enclined to amaeru to, request indulgence of, their deities.


Thanks to VikingSlav for the first paragraph and inspiration for this article.

N.B.
I would like to apologize for an earlier version of this article that suggested a closer link between the work of Shusaku Endo and Takeo Doi. This suggestion was entirely my own and based entirely upon supposition and speculation. In any event, nothing can be taken from Takeo Doi's immense achievement of making the notion of amae available to generations of psychologists, some of whom use the theory to cure people. And incidentally, academically, I am of course not fit to wipe Dr. Doi's shoes.

Posted by timtak at 06:47 PM | Comments (8)

January 10, 2004

Women in Japanese Proverbs

There is a Japanese proverb which says (click for an image of the Japanese)
"Dawn doesn't break without a woman", or,
Japan is the land where dawn doesn't break without a woman. "

It refers to the Shinto myth in which the sun goddess, Amaterasu, hides in a cave and thus sends the world into eternal night, and means that Japan is the place where things don't go right unless there is a woman around. Thinking that perhaps the power of women might be expressed in Japanese proverbs I had a look around and came up with these:

One hair of a woman draws a great elephant
(or in the English tradition, more than a hundred yoke of oxen. )
Distant mountains move when wives speak.

But then looking on the Internet I found a paper on the subject in Japanese. There is also the famous book by Kitteridge Cherry

These argue, fairly convincingly, that Japanese proverbs about women tend to be damning. But at the same time they might testify to women's power.

For those that are interested in the position of women in Japanese (Shinto?) culture, here is as many as I could manage to translate.

Women's talk is limited to the village (that's all she knows)

Women's wisdom and a "red sky at night" are unreliable. (just as looking at the "Eastern" sky won't really tell you what tomorrow's weather will be, neither will there be anypoint in listening to the wisdom of women. It is about as reliable).

Women can't bow enough (or they should bow a lot, and ingratiate themselves)

Women's wisdom is as long as their nose (i.e. not very).

A bad wife is one hundred poor harvests (powerful but bad)

Don't show white teeth to a woman. Never smile at a woman. (or she will take advantage of you)

Wise women ruin cattle deals (because they are greedy, pushy, and loose sight of the big picture)

Women's wisdom arrives after the event (slow, & useless)

Women's strength and neckless stone Buddhas. (scarves are put on stone Buddhas, so neckless buddhas, and womenfs muscles are both useless. I think that this is referring to physical strength)

Don't be surprised by showing her arms or a morning shower. (both examples of slightly surprising, unsurprising things)

Women's bargains and numbers ending in 7 are not struck/dividable,

A bow drawn by a woman won't shoot (or hit the mark)

Women's eyes should be as big as bells (Men's should be as thin as twine).

Women's' toilet and ones circle of friends are best kept small.

Women should be flexible (and charming) in their dealings with people.

A Monk who takes offerings from the hand of a woman will be reborn as someone with 500 years without rest.

If you have three daughters your household will be bankrupt (because of their dowry).

Women fooling their husbands have more wisdom than men.

Women entering a room have 70 plots (Men entering a room have a lot of enemies.)

The tears of a courtesan (= crocodile tears).

Scared women and chilly cats are liars. (they are pretending)

The origin of women's wisdom is greed.

Women are messengers/angels of hell (and the downfall of many a man)

Even if you have seven children do not trust the heart of a woman.

Bad women pretend to be wise/kind

Women are wise in the ways of love.

Complaint is the way of woman

A woman's mouth never blooms (but says nasty things).

Women together lock horns.

A women's revenge is three times thick.

A women's resolve pierces stone.

Women's mind and autumn sky (A woman's mind and winter wind change often.)

Three women together make a din (the character for din is written using the character for woman thrice. Three women, and a goose, make a market.)

Women know the ways of women.

Women's minds are like cats eyes (roving, flitting all over).

Cold women and famish cats are sleight of hand.

Women are essentially water (changeable)

Women have 12 horns.

Icefish and women are not to be eaten after they breed (both are not tasty, apparently)

Jealous women will tell anything.

Women care about their clothes second to their lives.

Posted by timtak at 05:31 PM | Comments (17)

April 26, 2003

Priest and Priestess Robes

Here are some links to some pictures of Shinto shrine priest and priestess robes On the site http://plaza18.mbn.or.jp/~relico/costume.html There is am who I am not sure what he is doing. And at this site explaining the various types of clothing (in Japanese) http://www.geocities.co.jp/HeartLand-Icho/9109/1-7.html there are diagrams. This site shows lots of clothes. It is the site of a shrine priest/ess clothing company. http://www.yusoku.com/ This page on the above site, shows you how to put Joue on by yourself http://www.yusoku.com/self.html Some high powered clothers in various colours http://www.yusoku.com/ikan1.html http://www.yusoku.com/ikan2.html http://www.yusoku.com/ikan3.html And shrine priestess wear can be viewed here. http://www.yusoku.com/miko.html The links page of the company above has all sorts of interesting entries including History of Kimono (in English) http://web.mit.edu/jpnet/kimono/index.html And some writing about Kimono http://www.geocities.co.jp/HeartLand-Icho/9109/eng1.html This is another company that sells Shinto Priest stuff of all sorts. Even the twin lintled gates. (In japanese and rather short on photos) http://www.annie.ne.jp/%7Eshin-ei/index.htm For Shinto Priest Stuff in General please also see the link list of sponsors of our "Shinto Online Network Organisation" Again, in Japanese. http://www.jinja.or.jp/kyousan/index.html

Posted by timtak at 03:05 PM | Comments (7)

Shinto Priestesses

There are a very few shrines run by priestesses.

However, Koukagakkan and Kougakuin, the two shrine priest accreditation universities for the national association of shrines, are non discriminatory in awarding shrine qualifications. Additionally some of the other training centres of smaller associations, such as the Shinto related sect of Kurozumi-kyou, also train women to be priests.

As a result of this policy, and the fact that shrine priest is not a popular job (often paying less than the cost of maintaining the shrine), there are a few female shrine priests who "run" shrines.

However, it is not *entirely* clear to me who "runs" a shrine. I believe, that Shinto makes distinctions between the roles of men and women, priests and mikos, but it is not entirely clear that the roles of women/mikos are subordinate.

Often it *is* the case that men run the shrine, and female university students
perform the subordinate role of selling talismans at the shrine shop. Traditionally
however, it is the miko who performs sacred dances for the pleasure of the gods (Kagura), and who is also said to be possesed by the god. Thus the role of miko is not necessarily in a subordinate. In the day to day running of the shrine the Miko may also be very involved.

I think that the usual economic pressures of gender relations were men are supposed to work to support women and women are supposed to be financially dependent houseworkers for men, has the usual impact on shrine priests and mikos (as it does on doctors and nurses) but who runs a shrine? (Who runs a hospital?) It is clear that Miko's and nurses get a lot less pay -- they are economically discriminated against. It is not clear to me that in the case of the shrine, the miko is discriminated against in terms of her value, traditionally at least. But I am not at all sure. I have very strange views about sexism in Japan: I am into Japanese mens' liberation.

BTW In Okinawan tradition the Kaminchu (priestesses) and Yuta (shaman) are very much in charge. My aging some what chauvist male Japanese professor visited the region with a young graduate student. He was not allowed even to observe their rituals, since he is male, but his graduate student, a woman, was allowed to participate.

Posted by timtak at 02:25 PM | Comments (7)