2024/07/20 20:48

Let's return to the spirit of "Mottainai"!


Let's return to the spirit of "Mottainai"!

In recent years, one of the Japanese words that has gained widespread recognition worldwide is "Mottainai." While most Japanese people have heard this word many times, it is actually considered a concept unique to Japan. The birth of the word "Mottainai" in the West can be traced back to the absence of such a concept.

In ancient times, there was a surname in Japan, "Motai," which originally meant a vessel for holding sake. Over time, those who specialized in making these vessels came to be called "Motai." Sake, then and now, is a precious offering to the gods, and the vessels used for sake are indispensable. The shortage of sake vessels was considered disrespectful and improper toward the gods, giving rise to the idea that "having no sake vessel (Motainai) is disrespectful to the gods."

While the authenticity of this origin is uncertain, Shinto, the indigenous spirituality of Japan, held the belief in reverence for divine spirits in all things (the concept of Yorishiro). In ancient times, many Japanese felt a sense of awe for all aspects of the natural world. This underlying philosophy has had a significant influence on the concept of "Mottainai."

Though it is sometimes written as "勿体ない," using the Japanese kanji characters, the exact meaning of "勿体" conveys a sense of weightiness or dignity, indicating something inappropriate for oneself. While this use slightly deviates from the original meaning of "Mottainai," it reflects the Japanese inclination to respect others and be aware of one's own position. Japanese people, through expressions like "Mottainai," convey a unique perspective that respects others and their surroundings on a global scale.



(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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