Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Random Picture 46
One of my "missions" as a person who blogs about Japan is to help people reach some understandings about Japan. These are actually things that apply to every place in the world, but for some reason people are exceptionally rigid about their thoughts in regard to this country. They seek and believe in ultimate "truths" and think that anything which states something other than their experience is a distortion on the part of the observer. Convincing such hard-headed folks that there is not one "truth" about Japan (or anywhere) is likely an exercise in futility, but I'll keep my Don Quixote complex in this regard.
Perspective about anything is influenced by a variety of factors including the time, place, and people that are in play at the moment of that experience. Your very personage is also a factor as people react differently based on an individual's appearance. The Japanese do this more so than more heterogeneous cultures since they are more easily amused, shocked, or intimidated by people who are vastly different than themselves.
As a tiny example of how such factors influence opinion, I offer you two pictures of the exact same spot not much more than a month apart, but world's away from each other as experiences. Both of these pictures are of the exact same space (from a slightly different angle, but the same territory) at Meiji shrine in Tokyo. This is a large, round space between a restaurant and some souvenir spots. The picture at the top was taken on New Year's Eve 2010 and the picture above this paragraph was taken in November 2010.
If you were to experience this same locale on one date, it'd be crowded, cacophonous, hot, and so commercialized as to make you cringe. If you experienced it during a pleasant autumn afternoon, it'd be cool, empty, peaceful, and reserved in its commercial presentation. The experiences couldn't be more varied based on the time, people, and situation, and this is how multiple truths about life in Japan are developed. People aren't distorting reality to bend to their prejudicial view. It's simply that there isn't one truth.