2024/07/24 00:06

"Publishing 'Proof of the Japanese' - Part 2 - Hidetoshi Tojo's Serial Column No. 11"


"Publishing 'Proof of the Japanese' - Part 2 -

Hidetoshi Tojo's Serial Column No. 11"


Recently, in line with the release of my book "Proof of the Japanese," I have been actively engaged in lecture activities. This effort stems from the sincere desire to enhance the foundational cultural literacy of as many people as possible about being Japanese. Thanks to the positive responses from various regions, my lecture activities in local areas have steadily increased.

During these activities, there was a somewhat different lecture last month. It was a seminar on Japanese culture targeting short-term exchange students learning Japanese who came from Hong Kong for a limited period of three weeks.

While I've spoken about Japan's cultural background to foreigners before, it was usually in the context of a minority among a larger audience of Japanese people. It was rare for all attendees to be foreigners, making it a unique experience for me. The language barrier and the uncertainty of how well foreigners would understand the emotionally charged image of the Japanese people were also factors I couldn't predict. However, when I actually conducted the seminar, the response was not only positive but more proactive than with Japanese audiences.

For instance, during the Q&A session after the lecture, there were usually few questions in a typical Japanese setting. However, these students were eager to ask questions, and they were sharp inquiries. Questions like, "I heard you shouldn't walk in the middle of the approach to a shrine, why is that?" or "Is there a specific reason why torii gates are red?" were asked. It was surprising to see how much they knew, but these are things many Japanese take for granted. Yet, if asked whether many of us know the meanings behind these seemingly obvious things, there might be some uncertainty. Questioning the seemingly obvious is crucial, and when explaining to them, I always start by breaking away from these assumed norms.

In reality, everything has a meaning. However, merely taking things for granted without questioning doesn't lead to a genuine understanding of the essence. Cultural exchange with people from foreign countries begins with recognizing the lack of understanding of one's own culture. We should, once again, question what the meanings of the things we take for granted are.


(Shrine Person Operator, Representative of Culture J, Ltd., Hidetoshi Tojo)

Hidetoshi Tojo was born in 1972 in Saitama Prefecture and is the representative director of Culture J, Ltd. He is the direct descendant of Hideki Tojo and the 18th head of the family. Exploring a unique social welfare model in Japan, he turned his attention to the presence of shrines and Shinto. Advocating for cultural tourism through shrines, he aims to revitalize new local communities and cultural entertainment.

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