井の中の蛙

2/10/2005

Usage of ‘dou’ (道) in Japan.

Filed under: — Thomas Ekholm @ 8:26 am

I have been thinking about the usage of “dou” (道) within japanese arts and sports. Since Meiji-period is not one of my strong points, you might know why they use it. It all started when I was looking into bushido and found out that bushido was not used until early edo period and that it was most probably used to de-militarize the samurai. Today, many “traditional” (no clear definition) sports and arts use “the way of” (dou) in their names but as far as I have found this is something that was created during Meiji-period or after.

Words like Kendo, Judo, Aikido are made during Meiji period or thereafter. From what I have understood the Korean martial arts taekwondo, hapkido (spelling might be wrong) use the “way” as well but this is derived from the japanese usage/fashion. The chinese do not use the word 道 in their names of martial arts.

Other than the martial arts the cultural arts have recieved the “way” in their names, chadou (way of tea), kadou (way of flower), shodou (way of writing) etc.

From what I have read, the usage of dou started when the japanese wanted to counter the influence from west in Meiji-period and infuse/perserve their own traditions and values. As far as I can see only Bushido and Shinto use “way” before the meiji-period. Is it from this that they started to use “way” or is its origin to be found elsewhere. I have never heard “sumoudou” (way of sumo), have any of you? If not, why did not sumo change into the same “fashion” as all other arts and sports? Do any of you know any other “dou” which have been created before meiji-period?

Social Management

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 4:45 am

Sheldon Garon’s delightful book Molding Japanese Minds outlines how the Japanese state has entered the everyday life of its citizens. He focuses on what he calls “social management” (xiv) and notes that many Americans would be “astounded” by the degree of this state activity. However, Garon is very careful, even in his epilogue, not to come out too strongly either for or against such involvement. Many of the more harmless and innocuous involvements contribute, as education and public health do, in a minor way to the betterment of the community.

I think it is certainly fair to say that there is far less state involvement in daily life in the US, especially when it comes to the kinds of examples that Garon takes for the Japanese case. I also admit being astounded at various experiences I had during different stays in Japan when, for example, local police vehicles drove around the neighborhood and blasted recordings suggesting that parents make sure their children go straight home after school, or 17:00 songs or community loudspeakers proclaiming that it is now time to go home and have dinner.

However, I was reminded of Garon’s book when I found myself staring at the “Small Step #11″ advertisement on a bathroom wall today. It suggested that I could make a small step towards healthier living by not eating meals larger in size than a box, portrayed on the advertisement, about the size of my fist. When I looked to see who sponsored this advertisement (thinking perhaps some fast food chain was hinting that they had a meal just the right size for me), I was surprised to see that this was paid for by none other than the United States Department of Health & Human Services.

I think this is at least one recent example of “social management” by the state here in the US. Pay a visit to the Smallstep.gov where they offer the full list of “small steps” we can take to getting healthy, or register at this government site for access to their “activity tracker” (their privacy statement is here, in which they promise not to tell anyone about your “activities” unless some law or statute, like the Patriot act, forces them to). There is a press release about this program here and the program also appears to be connected to Healthierus.gov. The arguments for the program suggest that it is essentially a response to disease, in this case that of obesity in the US.

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