2024/06/13 16:11

LIFE

"Participation in Hidetoshi Tōjō's Nationwide Caravan Final Lecture"

LIFE

 "Participation in Hidetoshi Tōjō's Nationwide Caravan Final LecHidetoshi

 

 

"Inspiring Experience at HidetoshiTōjō's Lecture on the Essence of Being Japanese"

I had attended lectures by notable figures several times before, but this time was unique. Despite being about a familiar topic, I learned many things for the first time, especially focusing on the theme of "What Should the Japanese Be?" Having discovered Eritoshi Tōjō through this global community, I was eagerly anticipating the insights he would share.

In his talk, he passionately emphasized the importance of having an identity as a fundamental step to understanding others in the international community. While listening, I reflected on the need to consider more about the things that concern me personally.

He stressed the significance of "thinking more" about everything, as satisfaction with the current worldview leads to being bound by preconceptions and halted thinking. Even something as familiar as a logo, when attempted to be drawn, may pose a challenge if not approached consciously. This lesson reminded me that awareness is crucial because what is not consciously acknowledged is effectively unseen.

In essence, it highlighted the importance of taking a keen interest in each aspect of life, reflecting on the "why," and considering one's perspective. This, in turn, leads to self-discovery and the appreciation of identity.

The lecture motivated me to cultivate a habit of contemplating more deeply about everyday scenes, my identity as a Japanese, and various aspects of Japan. I aspire to develop this habit to confidently welcoming foreigners, proudly saying, "Welcome to Japan, the world's oldest country." It was an enlightening talk that reminded me to actively seek the truth to pass on Japan's pride to future generations.

I truly enjoyed and benefited from this enriching experience. Thank you. (M.O, K University)

"Understanding Japan's Obon Festival"

LIFE

"Understanding Japan's Obon Festival"

"Understanding Japan's Obon Festival"

Title: "Understanding the Bon Festival in August"

In August, many people in Japan take time off to return to their hometowns for what is commonly known as the Bon holiday. However, how well do we truly understand the significance of this Bon Festival? Most people might associate it with Buddhist practices, such as ancestral memorial services and visiting graves.

Surprisingly, the concept of ancestral memorial services is not originally related to Buddhism. Buddhism, centered around the teachings of Buddha, focuses on enlightenment and the liberation from the cycle of reincarnation, rather than the practice of memorializing ancestors. So, how did the Bon Festival become associated with Buddhism in Japan?

The idea of ancestral memorial services originated from Shinto rituals known as "sorei-sai," where ancestors are revered. Shinto, with its fundamental principle of "keishin suuso" (respecting both gods and ancestors), emphasizes the veneration of ancestors. While the term "Bon" is derived from the Buddhist "Ullambana" festival, initially, the focus was on Buddhist monks conducting rituals, not ancestral remembrance.

During the Edo period, the government implemented the danka system, requiring citizens to register with a temple to travel or secure employment. In this Buddhist-centric society, the government enforced the Buddhist-style practice of ancestral memorial services. Through this process, the Shinto practice of venerating ancestors and the Buddhist Ullambana festival merged, forming the present-day style of commemorating ancestors. Therefore, the concept of ancestral memorial services is a unique blend of Shinto and Buddhist elements that evolved independently in Japan. It's worth noting that this style of honoring ancestors is not universally practiced in all Buddhist countries.

 


 

"Publishing 'Proof of Japanese Identity' - Column by Hidetoshi Tojo, No. 10"

LIFE

"Publishing 'Proof of Japanese Identity'

 - Column by Hidetoshi Tojo, No. 10"

 

Title: "Cultural Inheritance and Succession Challenges - Column by Hidetoshi Tojo"

In his recent column, Hidetoshi Tojo reflects on the challenges of cultural inheritance and succession in Japan, particularly among young leaders, like third-generation business owners in rural areas. He notes that despite the positive responses to his book "Proof of Japanese Identity," it highlights a clear decline in the country's cultural transmission.

Tojo specifically mentions the interest shown by young leaders in his lectures, emphasizing their concern for the meaning and significance of education. Many of these individuals, positioned to inherit family businesses, lack a deep understanding of the essence and roles beyond the family name. This lack of understanding leads to uncertainty, especially when they assume parental roles, unsure of what values to pass on to the next generation.

He points out that third-generation leaders didn't directly witness the founder's work, making it challenging to grasp the original intentions and ideologies behind the business. Tojo draws a parallel with his own experience of inheriting the name "Tojo" without initially understanding its significance, which resulted in a vague sense of unease. However, his unique background and experiences, including overseas assignments, allowed him to find his identity and overcome this complex.

Tojo highlights the critical issue of the diminishing number of successors in family businesses, recognizing its potential to cause serious societal problems. He encourages readers to pay attention to their surroundings and consider the importance of cultural inheritance. The column prompts reflection on the value of cultural transmission and the potential consequences of its decline in modern society.

"Cultivation Required in a Global Society? - Column by Hidetoshi Tojo, No.16"

LIFE

 "Cultivation Required in a Global Society?

 - Column by Hidetoshi Tojo, No.16"

Title: "Establishment of the International Liberal Arts Promotion Association - Column by Hidetoshi Tojo, No. XX"

In a recent development, I am pleased to announce the official establishment of the International Liberal Arts Promotion Association, a general incorporated association. This new venture aims to systematically engage in activities promoting liberal arts education, fostering individuals equipped with cultural knowledge to thrive in the global arena. The formation of this association comes after extensive consideration and planning, culminating in its formal inauguration in July.

The association's primary objective is to cultivate a broad understanding of liberal arts, empowering individuals to excel in the globalized world. Hidetoshi Tojo emphasizes that many people harbor misconceptions about going abroad, pointing out an example where the ability to wear traditional Japanese attire, the kimono, can serve as a simple and effective icebreaker, creating connections and opportunities.

Tojo recounts a conversation with a company president who asked, "What is the quickest way to make friends in the United States?" While many might think of language proficiency or knowledge about the other person's culture, Tojo suggests that wearing a kimono can be a surprisingly powerful means of connecting with people. The association's diverse membership includes former CEOs of major multinational companies and various experts who have excelled both domestically and internationally, all emphasizing the importance of liberal arts education.

The discussion extends to the significance of having a strong cultural foundation, identity, and understanding of one's home country before embarking on international experiences. Without these fundamentals, individuals may risk losing their cultural identity and even rewrite their ways of thinking and behavior to align with the host country's cultural norms. This could be detrimental, especially when planning to return and work in one's home country, where familiarity with local customs, values, and market demands is essential for success.

In conclusion, the International Liberal Arts Promotion Association seeks to address these challenges, promoting the importance of cultivating a strong educational foundation and cultural understanding for individuals navigating the complexities of a globalized world.

"The Pink Book for Fulfilling the Whims of Adult Women"

LIFE

 

"The Pink Book for Fulfilling the Whims of Adult Women"


Supervision: Mr.  Tojo | Published by: Magazine House

"We live in Tokyo, and do you have any idea how many shrines are here? The database of shrines in Tokyo, managed by 'Jinjajin,' which I plan and operate, is complete, totaling around 2,317 shrines. Even within the 23 wards, there are approximately 1,309 shrines, surprisingly more than you might think. However, many people aren't aware of this, right? So, on September 13th, a shrine guidebook I supervised was released by Magazine House. Its title is 'Shrines for Fulfilling the Whims of Adult Women' (laughs), with a flashy pink cover.

This time, focusing on the Tokyo metropolitan area, we featured around 100 shrines from Tokyo and surrounding areas. Interestingly, there are surprisingly few shrine guidebooks that cover this many shrines. Despite the recent trend of Power Spot's popularity contributing to more shrine-related magazines and books, many of them feature well-known shrines, sometimes even including temples. So, there aren't many guidebooks that exclusively cover individual shrines. However, as I mentioned earlier, there are quite a number of shrines even within Tokyo alone. Of course, many of them are small with just a shrine building, but still, there are numerous shrines scattered throughout Japan. That's why I wanted to expose as many people as possible to a greater variety of shrines. Thus, I joined the planning of this book with that goal in mind.

Talking about the blessings one can receive at shrines, even from just this perspective, there are reasons behind each of those claims. Although the setup this time was quite detailed and somewhat challenging, just introducing cultural spots like this that are surprisingly close to us is quite meaningful. I believe it's a chance for everyone to touch upon an aspect of Japan they might not be familiar with. There may be a side of Japan you don't know about, and it could be found right here."

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

LIFE

"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.

"Publication of 'Shrine Tourism'!! Hidetoshi Tojo's Serial Column No. 17"

LIFE

 

"Publication of 'Shrine Tourism'!! Hidetoshi Tojo's Serial Column No. 17"

 
 
 
 

"Thanks to your support, my second book 'Shrine Tourism' was published by Fusosha on September 25th. This comes about a year and a half after my debut work 'Proof of the Japanese' (Gakken). If the previous book was a culmination of my 40 years of life, this time, it represents about four and a half years from the inception of my shrine-focused portal site 'Jinjajin' until now. While both explore our roots, this time, I directly focus on 'Shrines and Shinto,' discussing the charm and uniqueness of Japan.

Some may shy away thinking, 'Shrines and Shinto, isn't that a religion?' It's not that simple. For instance, if you ask someone what the teachings or scriptures of Shinto are, you might not get a clear answer. That's because Shinto fundamentally lacks the teachings required for a religion.

Supporting this notion, a significant attempt is being made in Europe next spring. A genuine shrine is being established in the Republic of San Marino, a purely Christian country. This is remarkable and stems from the idea that Shrines and Shinto are not a religion but a lifestyle.

While such recognition is progressing globally, there's still a lack of accurate understanding domestically. As mentioned earlier, the quest for the label 'religion' is part of the problem. However, even if we take the word 'religion,' it has an unexpected background. The term was introduced in the modern era post-Meiji Restoration. Originally, there was no such word. So, why did such expressions become prevalent domestically? It's because the word 'Religion' was imported. Yes, it was introduced with the presence of foreign religions. Therefore, understanding that Shrines and Shinto do not conform to these concepts can be roughly understood by considering this historical transition alone.

With no specific gods or teachings, the simplicity of Japanese Shinto is deeply connected to the unique spiritual culture of the Japanese people. In that sense, this book is by no means religious. It is an educational book to understand the origins of our culture and a guidebook to thoroughly enjoy the country we were born and raised in. That's what I believe. I hope young students especially get to know this world of unknown charm."

"The cultural roots of Japanese New Year

LIFE

"The cultural roots of Japanese New Year

 
 

"It's finally the season of December. New Year's, among Japan's annual events, is a particularly culturally rich time. But have you ever wondered why we celebrate the New Year in Japan? The answer may not readily come to mind because celebrating the New Year has become a common and expected practice. However, each of these events has a well-founded reason.

So, let's talk about Japan's New Year. The cultural roots of Japan's annual events, especially holidays, lie in two major themes: Shinto and agriculture. Essentially, Japanese holidays were determined based on agricultural harvests, and festivities were organized accordingly, aligning with these rituals. Well, during the Edo period, nearly 80% of the population engaged in agriculture, so it's somewhat natural. The same rule applies to New Year's festivities.

Originally, Japan's New Year was meant to welcome the deity called O-Toshigami, the god of agriculture, into our homes. This was a time to express gratitude for the abundant harvest of the past year while praying for a prosperous year ahead. Therefore, O-Toshigami would appear at sunrise and be invited into our homes. This is why we set up Kadomatsu, decorate with ornaments and Kagami-mochi. All of these decorations are put up to welcome O-Toshigami into our homes. The year-end cleaning is also done because gods won't visit unclean places, ensuring our homes are clean.

However, in recent times, much of the original meaning has been forgotten. Nowadays, many people go for their first shrine visit (Hatsumode) on New Year's Day. But since O-Toshigami is supposed to be welcomed into our homes on that day, it's considered somewhat disrespectful to be absent. Therefore, traditionally, Hatsumode was supposed to be done on days other than New Year's Day. Most people might not be aware of this. This year, perhaps pay attention to these details and experience a more traditional Japanese New Year."

"For the Japanese, What Does 'Work' Mean? - Hidetoshi Tojo's Serial Column No. 12"

LIFE

 

"For the Japanese, What Does 'Work' Mean? - Hidetoshi Tojo's Serial Column No. 12"

 

"How do you feel about the concept of 'work'? In recent years, there have been concerns about the global economic slowdown, and in Japan, a perpetual recession is often discussed. Some even fear that Japan might continue to decline, weakening its presence in the world. Is this going to be the case? I don't think so. That's because I understand the meaning of Japan's strength.

How did Japan, without abundant resources, become one of the world's leading economic powers? While we often hear about technological prowess, ultimately, it comes down to 'people.' The strength of human resources undoubtedly contributed to favorable results. However, if it is said that this is due to differences in abilities, the answer is no. This is because the basic performance of humans has not changed, and it is not academically valid to say that people in the past were more capable than those of today. The key difference lies in the consciousness of work. Surprisingly, this can be explained by the character '働' (hataraku), which means 'to work.'

This character '働' is actually a native Japanese character, a 'kokuji.' In other words, it is an original kanji created in Japan. For the Japanese, 'to work' means 'people moving.' While the etymology is not certain, some say it depicts several people collaborating to move a large rock. In essence, in Japan, 'working' means moving for the sake of others. This is precisely the strength of Japan, which has faced the world not as individuals but as organizations. This is the inherent consciousness of 'work' for the Japanese.

In contrast, in Chinese, the character '人' (ren) meaning 'person' is omitted, leaving only the character '動' (dong) meaning 'to move.' There is no 'person' in it. To move with one's own will. This single character illustrates the strength of a stand-alone play. Of course, this does not imply superiority or inferiority, but there was undoubtedly a strength unique to Japan. And Japan has proven that. Japan, in recent years, has tended to seek work more with the mindset of 'to move' following a meritocracy trend. Self-realization, pursuing one's desired occupation, me, me, me. However, Japan's strength is not found in this approach. The meaning of the word 'person' has somehow disappeared. But looking at the confusion in the world today, can we not consider that this stand-alone play is working in a negative direction? Doing what others wish before pursuing what you desire. The wisdom of our predecessors shows Japan's unique strength, and that's what I believe."

"What is True Culture? Understanding Japan"

LIFE

"What is True Culture? Understanding Japan"

"Starting from the December issue, Mr. Hidetoshi Tojo, the operator of the shrine portal site 'Jinjajin,' begins a column to convey Japanese culture through shrines."


 

"Today, we live in an information society. We constantly absorb information from various sources and accumulate it in our minds. However, when we categorize this information as Japanese people, have we perhaps forgotten something beyond just having sufficient knowledge? In reality, we Japanese may not know ourselves as much as we think. This lack of self-awareness is not unrelated to the fact that Japanese individuals often struggle to demonstrate leadership in the international community. Why is this?

When we grasp the term 'international awareness' in Japan, many might feel it implies proficiency in English or familiarity with international affairs. However, these are merely means and not the essence. The true essence lies in a mutual understanding of national identity. Unfortunately, many Japanese people are stamped with the label of being uncultured due to this misunderstanding. This is because culture and knowledge are entirely different things. To put it in simpler terms, culture is 'education,' and it is the social background we naturally inherit. Not understanding this implies that the person may have grown without developing a social personality.

For example, have you ever thought about the founding period of Japan's National Foundation Day, the significance of celebrating the New Year, or the basis for the perceived ambiguity of Japanese people? All of these are related to Japan's unique concepts and Shinto. Currently, as I gather and share information about shrines nationwide, I aim to expand a community that learns about the importance of confronting these roots together. The Japan we live in is truly a wonderful country. Understanding its goodness not only nurtures an international sense but also allows us to experience joy as Japanese individuals. I believe that knowing such joy helps us maintain our authenticity in this flooded information society. Through this column, I hope to contribute to fostering a positive sensibility among all of you."

 

"(Operator of Jinjajin, Representative of Culturege Inc., Hidetoshi Tojo)"

"Hidetoshi Tojo, born in 1972 in Saitama Prefecture, is the Representative Director of Culturege Inc. He is a direct descendant of Hideki Tojo, serving as the 18th-generation head. Exploring a unique social welfare model in Japan, he focuses on the presence of shrines and Shinto. Advocating for cultural tourism through shrines, he aims to revitalize new regional communities and cultural entertainment."

JINJYAJIN HP http://jinjajin.jp/