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PASSPORT BOOKS
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Introduction
What Makes the

J'apan~,seJapanese]

By '(any world s(andartl" the J atJ.afiesl'l are 'as:up!ttiQr' p¢l~ple., Their ;ll'OOOSt uriliellev,able siiecess in turO:m,_g a small chain of resource-poor' islands into 0fle of die gT§att§t e'e{:)n!',unie;: pqwers tlit.e;wf')rlcl h:=t$e¥e~s~ep:_ in lJM.s than three,dews is' PtCilQ~ at that. The fact that the "M1racle o¥lapan'"
sigrUfi:c.ant 'C_ontri,outiens ({om the United$tafes 'anti We'Stem'Euml_:j,~ -aI011g~\'licth a varietY of oth;e:rextetnal factors, certainly te rapers , bU't does n~t 'negate the acd6mplis'hments' of the [apanese, '
Wi,thollt

would not have hap~n£id

Japan'nllocl.'etJi h.istory: IS, in. tact.; a CbIiti:nliillgret:;otElof ex:rra@rqinaliY accomplishments, 'beginning: with its trHnsforma!i~Jn ~Qm dc, fe_ud;Jistic kingdom of sW0rd,carrying Wa;tfioI§, shQpTteepet$.and'p,ea~aut& in 1:S68, 1:0 a world-class miHtary power by 189'5. Thespeo.ial c'i'tilracref, aha a.bilit;y of the Japanese W'i!,~ recQgn.j1;eo bYl110l'e aAtLJ;teWestern vi$:icors sven before japan's feudal age' eneI'ed. Atheti!Z'aA :shiFl:Oalltajn Henry Holmes, who made a nllmberQf'trips tq ]apa'n!priot to irs opening ~o West, noted in his journal, "They [the JapaJ;t~se:J will 5]:)rpnse; t;:b:e_

~e

world!"
And surprise: the world they have -in ways that have J:'@nged 'frQm

tu rvcllJwi to shocking. 1~41! hlQw.n ofF l'OIlr by ih wind f'mluYlI'~ lrmJerll who Writ' pUIlI!Clll
The nr~t We~,tcrl'lerA of record to visit Japan arrived by accident in f1 typhoon. These Westerners,

or

\n Oil II

Chin'

Junk, introduced

vU

viii

Introduction

lntrQth.ictlon

~

guns, tobacco, and venereal disease to the Japanese. The, next foreign visitor of note was a, Jesuit priest named Franciseo Xavier, who arrived from the Portuguese settlement of Macau in 1549 determined to introduce the Japanese to Christianity. Over- the next several decades other missionaries and toreign traders by the hundreds descended" upon Japan, eager to win minds or make fortunes. The Japanese were unlike any people previously encountered by one globe-Circling Eutopoeans of the sb;~eenth century. They were roughly divided into large c1as'ses-an elite "sword-wearing watrier class ,and common people, Their social system was based on vertical ranking within a military dictatorship headed by shoguns, and a highly sophisticated, rigidlyeilforced etiquette that governed all mrerpersonai relatfo,nships. Male members of the warrior class, which made up about 10 percent of the population, were fierce fighters who tended to be aggressive and auoga~t. The mass .:ot GOIDffiIDJ!l people were cbaracterisdcallv polite" kind, generous, hospitable, trustworthy, andtliligent. Most of the com; mon people were ric.e qnd vegetable farmers. Others were fishermen, artisans, and -mercharrts, Metnb~rs of the warrior class administered the, laws.of the country for the shogunategovernm~nt. This well-defined Japanese way of life, already more than a thousand years old at the beginning of the sixteenth century, was an elaborately refined combination of Shinto, Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist precepts the Imperial Court, the Shogun'-5'Court, and the warrior class had molded into a unique culture that distinguished the Japanese. from aU other Asians and eSP\'fc.jally made them diffe_rentfrom WesternerS'. These cultural differences intrigued and frustrated the first foreigners to arrive in Japan, many of whom spent a great deal of time' trying to fig~ ure out why the Japanese thought and behaved the way they did; No one solved the enigma, although a great deal of insight into Japanese behavior was gained in the attempt. In the 16308, fearing outside interference and eventual colonization attempts, Japan's feudal rulers expelled all foreign residents and dosed the country to all except for one small Dutch trading post, which was moved to a minuscule man-made islet in Nagasaki harbor. This isolated Dutch outpost was allowed one crade-ship visit per year. other travel a • nd fr ru h country was s ri tv prohibited, and th penalty for conI rnv "lin th lw was d II h.

rna

that

Arn:eriG.aD whal~t:s, tmding companies, and opheFs who want-ed to preempt Russia, Engla:nd, and other countries tt0m gaining an advantage over the United States. In the years that followed, a flood of fbrewner.s poured fum Japan, some of them in.vi:ted as technicians and teachers by IDe Meijigovernment that replaced the shogunate, ana others seeking the usual business profits and religious converts. Over ~he, next QIT€: hundred. years ]9PQn was &t~ied; analy.zed,and dissected by thousands of foreign residents trying to understand theculture and devise ways of dealing effe<;,tively With the Japanese. Some of these early "old Japan hands" produced memorable books about the character and customs of the [apanesethat are still read today. Japan's miraculous recovery frot1;\ the devastation of World ·War II and its rapid dimb to world-power status resulted in massive new efforts to describe and explain 'the attitudes and ljehavior of the Japanese to the rest (If the world - a::nd in pru:ticularc to explain wnyand how the Japanese were abl~ 'to achieveextraordinary economic success in such a short-period of time. While mest of tlle special traits and taletits df the Japanese have now been accurately describedQ1 foreigp. businesspeople, writers, and scholar's, no one has yet expla1;necl where these special traits and talents. came from and how they became an integral part of Japanese culture. I believe the answer to this puzele lies in the spectal aceulturation and training techniques called shj'kam (she-kah-tah) - or kata (kah-tah) when used in compound terms-developed and used by- the Japanese over the centuries, This book lQOksat the Qri,gih,fl,atllre,. use, and influ~ ence of the kata factor in J:J.panese hfe. I am greatly indebted Dan Nakatsu, who spent many yeats in Japan II an airline and advertising .executive, fot encouraging me to '((")Cus n o the ksta factor in Japanese culture, and to old Japan hands Ken Butler, Willi. m 'K. Nichoson, Davis Barrager, Joseph P. SclrrP.ehe~, Jt:. -and vcr 1others who prefer nor: to be named - for reading the first draft of tht k and making many suggestions for its improvement.

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bun '1IU1ln d n )I"r uti I I t h 1AI)O~ wh en rho U.S. lIi'lll 1I n . hip" lntn 'l1kvlI n~IY10 PlY Iii i I IIJ1Iry ol'",n lit 11If' h h ql III

1

The Kata Factor

Japan's 5;ecret Weapon
Shlkata (she-kah-tah) is one sf the mos't used. anti msst, i:m~ttan't wards in the ]ap;luese language, It me~s HW~Y: df domg things;" with special emphasis on ~hef~rm_ and k>td'erofthe, process, The mot meaning 9£ shi is a combination of "sup,port"and "serv-e"in the sense of ahinfeti-ot suppottingand_sern£l.g. a &uperior;. {{aUt, by itself, is llsu,!lly rranslated as' "form." Some of the IDem cemmon uses of kata include ~omi kafa (yoe-h1e k h-rah) -" way."treading':; taJ1e kata (tal\~baykah-Qhl-}'wa¥ o£ eatng"i kaki kata (bh~kee kah-tah) - "way oi writing"; 7dlngae kam ( J n~guy kah-rah) - "way of thinklng"i 'iki kaw (ee-kee kab-tah)II OIwny of UVing. There are dosensof nther kata, In fact, th~t:e is 'hardly 1\ area of Japanese thought or behavior that is net directhy ihfluehce'd by ne or more kata. Wh'o us d ill the Japanese context the shikata 'oone~JJtin€ludes more than just the mechanical process of doing something. It. incorpnrllte~ the physical and 5pi~ituallaws of the COSll)Q:§. It refers tq tne,way ~ ~hh\~11j SllPpOS d to b done, both the form and the order, as a means nre ~ InM• nd main aintn harmony insocletv and the universe. , • l ~ t1 • blk 1'1 I v rl.tmlly unthink hI· 0 the [apane e, for 111111 I ·f '. ttl III 11lI III orld, wul nil! rd or form. n nn 'V rvday

*0

~

Uchind the [apanese Bow

level, when the Japane~ are faced with something thatcannQt be cha,ngedQr cqfll1011e}i (o~£or some reason they don't want tomake tHe' necessary eftfull) tHey say, S;hiki;it4 g4 Mj (I<The~e is n9. way") - meaning. ~t is _u11terly hopeless and therefore. makes no senseeven to tty. _ Earlvln their history the J al'lanese developed the belief that form had a realityof its own, and that it often took precedence qyet sppstooG_e. 'They al~G)'Qelie;ve~ that anything CI'1Iuldbe accornplished.if tHe 1'ignt kata , was mentally and phy~icallypracticed kmg enough, "Japan has no genuine philosophy as such, only form," ,says K~I,At;j, MatsumUfi2l,1;I;ssista;tJJ PfOfessor ofJapanese mythology a[ the Gyasaw In-stitute at 'Fenrt Univer'sity jfi Nar(i. He adds" however, th:\!:t IJ1Qst Japap.e_~etoril'_<LY are ignorarat of the roots of much of their kata~ize_d hieha-Vidl:.The SUJl1 total ())f :a.1l'the ka:tp: in Japanese life has tr-aditienaUy. been referred to as, the"Japal'l.e~e Way." It was the existence of ·thisvery O@n&J,)iclJOLlS: "way" that· provioed the Japa,.nese with some of theirmest enviable as well as their mCist -negativ:~ atttibutes, and distinguished them from other nationalities. Mos-t of -Japan's 'tluffierO!JJ~ k1lta have. been well established fot centuries. Over the: generations tbe kata not only became institutional ... ire!il, they $lIsa became ritualized ami sanctified. Domg things. th'e right way 'was often mote imptlttaat thandoin_g: the right things! Evenrually, p~ope:r observance -_of kata wasequat¢d. with morality. OM, was eiilier"im:' kata-kata ni hamaru (lwh~tahnee bah-mah-'tu.e) -or '1,@Ut',) oflcata -k6ta ni M1:1Ulra,nai (kah-rah nee hah-mah-rah-nigh). Being out of kata was. -a sin against societv, and in form-eonscious Japan could <be fatill. Etmt$,gave w~y' to_.sJ:Vles,principles gave way to policies. Just as there was only one at..ceptableway: to perfQtnlall 'the V,~QUS acuens of1ife ••n preindustrial japan, froin using,chopsticks to Wrapf-lihga pack~gej tl\ere \Vfffi A,atu~alty onlv one right way of thinking - the "Japane--se-way.. n 'ClIJtQral 'bOnditiooing basea on the kala system made the Japanese @tremeJy-:senSitiVe to Shy drought, manner, OF action thgt'd.id not conform pertectly to the approp):iatre kala. Int'Ol'.mal as :well as man:y daily situations eveI'Y4aetion 'W~ eithex nght or wroLlg; natural or unnatural. There were no shades of gray that" acc:oihtlio,dat.oo individualistic th0l.1ght, preferences, or idiosyncrasies. To the Japanese there Was aninner order (the individual heart) and a natural order (the cosmos), and these two were linked together by form _ by kata, It was k~ta mac linked the individual FInd socle ty, 1r nne did 11m foHow til' correct form, thut indlvlduul WH~ n\ll 111'11Itl1llllilY with
j

and, nature. The·challenge lacing ,e;ach ipdt~ v-iduru waa t-O know ciue!sQw'n 1.u:lfi.shfn (H:dt1e'...she.en),'''trueu or "right heart, J' then Ieam and f0110wthe kaea to keep in sync with society ana the cliisl}i.O&.

both fellow In:llPaLl pei~

Mental 'Training
'Zenpries~s have been teachlng the Japanese since the tliine-enth. Genturv that ntenr,al Il1M1;ilitg :is juata& itnpOf1rant, ifP:O[tnQt-e'SO'j tha::~ phY:Sipsl tra'in:frtg'ih the adiieving: '0£ hatihtlRY and the ffi'ilstety of any sknLltor young.roen in ~udalJat!au':§'5amural fattrilie's this early m<m_tal teaehing combinecraesthetiCS w1~h tht: more tm4tlt-iane skills of the world, pal'~ ticularly sv,rol;d-fightir% which was frequetuly the 'final test in one's eavcatton- the inept gu,/ll:Usoml'1tini¢:s'forfeitiNg his life. . The ultitnate:,goru. tn ttarlid6tlal Japane~s.e elifuc:arioti ,among the sam~, urai and professfcnal elasses was for: the p4-pil te become on~ with the object pi training. The- goal ofth~ ~w@t:dsrn$1 Was to merge coosciousrtess witH his sword, the painter~s with his brush; the" p~tter's with

....

rn-s

ru~

me

his clay; the garden de:signer'~ with the materials of 1h~gard~n. Qnce this wasachiev,erl,. 'as tkeilie(;lI,Y goes, th~ doing 1Jfathingpe'Ife't;tly was n~ easy as thinkihg it. Over the _cemurtes each, skill or p,tQfession rnaJdng 11~ the lap~ese wny of living Was, reduG,ed to its basw elem'hnl!S. J7h1:! ele;ments were identified and labeled ,aceorrling: to their Ot~d}!{andthe role theyplayeq in making up the whole. The_,l(:ar~g oJ eve-ryciay behavior, pW_lit:r etiquette, work skills, andprdfe.ssibi1S. becaITte a cddifted" process of firSt I 'Ilfning the basic 'parts an~ then delleiQping skill in sG;C-Qmplishing the n 9SEl.ry actions in the prescribeu0.rder anli manner, Lifelong conditioning in this intricat~fmely meshed webQf rules and ilrIDS made it second nature for the Japanese tQ"e*p~et that every situuou would have its exact process and form .. When they were con(Il)nt·d with a situation thae did not have its own kata, they were either n pl~hlc arction or took action that was' often the opposite of commUll ~l'lI~~ lind 80m' tim vtolcnt. h Id"nlfl or dlf n b [WI he J J') n 6 W y and tb customs tl II Iv Inp ,J IJ I 11jll~t ul lit'!' ~u 'I 'H'~ wu~ til It he J apun '~e ka tu ..lred Iii II ~ltol- t~xl"t'r.lwr PHII'llrulty Illll'hinii wn. ttl 'I III dlllUf nrpt'I'nnnl1l
j~

4

Behind the Japanese Bow

The Kata faotar

s:

indtn.i'J:tiOl!\s;.1;he kata factor wo. I1ppl d u y I II~ down to, the atran.gementQtfdodbn a tray. Funhor, II . Jft -lLtt I'l~t' W!l111 was UQtjuscthe: minimum acceptable standard of t hu 1111 III hili, III work. It was absolutepetiecttpn. While few ]al'lanese actually " Itlhll b~hayior or pursuits, a very large p r '(.l:utu l' III 1111 aChieved 11 Ie.vel bf competence in eh 1111111 1111 Iutkly diSti-l1gu1she:ci them from otherna:tional groups. And, W N I pi ,~ Illy d rnonsttated in the latter halfQf the twentieth century, hi' I nUI1,1beI of real advanrages in c.clIliJ:'}etiIlg with the outsid W )1'1I.

commandmen!
,kind$

in PrinGe .8hotoku's constitirtien

de(,Jde gveat ~ti~rs on your own. Yg,lll nUI.::;t peQple." This effort ttl eliminate envy, prohibit individualism. and' suppress talent became a vi!""l' theme in Jfl~ahe$e qultUt~:!. Jodti (S!.l!phia) Univ¢1.'Sity linguist!hisrofian: ShoidiiWatanabe characterizes the' gpv-ernment policy of che whole 'fo,kugawa pe!ioo (1603-1~,o.B) as "eseqew ~nyy,; hate abilitY; reVeleJ:ht~ pa~t.h· , During the Tokugawa period tHe shogunate passed numerous laws that preveared the, cilevelqpment ~f cO,ro,me G~.. the sl?r~d .of new ideas. and allY rise -in the st<.ttidard :of living -all in an effbtt to preVent. changes llfe.~s:t;.yles the appearance of' sueh fucto:rs as envy and inand

pr

was "Ytm must never a;Lv.(:~ys dis,?U$;~ them, 'W~tl:t .all

The Shikata of Harm ny
the promotien anti maintenance of wa (wah) r h rmony. Personal behavior, as well as all relationships, private and pu 11', w r bas d on 'strktly contl'Qlled harmo1jy in the B,(0p~r intertcr-supertor nrextef Japanese society. Thi~ religiQus striving fm harmony often went to rb extreme and 'resulted in many laws ana customs thae,were inhuman, su h a collective guilt when only a single individual was at fault. Part f th rationale {or this harnrQny-b.as~q ,system Oall be traced to the political policies' espoused by Prince Sheteku who served as regent to Empress Suikom th~ seventh eent:uW and codified the idealised virtues of the Japanese in the country's fi.rst "ccnstituaon,' Prince Shotolsu's constitutionconsisted of seventeen articles that prov~decl the ,f'ral1'l(lw~rk within wh1:ehthe e_ountry's unique c!Jlture was to clevetop tliereaker. The fu.st of these a'i'fides made har,mbFl:ythe {OUll< dation: for all of the others. Prince Shotoku said that ha,ffilOUY consisted of not m~kiIig PQl~£ed distinctions, a:p.d added that if a distinotien could be rq:ade betwee1'l.g~dand' bad, then hartnonydtd' n€)t"s.xist. The prinCe; W~al5(jl well. aware that: ea¥)! destrtoys harmony. In another of hi.s Sevel'l.teen cdtnmandmen'rs heproolaimed: "U we envy other men, other men will envy us too. Evil derived from envy knows no end; thus people tend not to rejoice in superior wisdom. If you have uperior talent you will be the ob] c of nvy." The seven ntl nd fino I

divl4ua1 cempetitien, One ~f the T~kng~wa shoguns decreed. "You mus.tnever invent' ahything:new!"

m

The halhn~v:.k '(')f h,p!.I;n'$ kata-izea. culture from

I

rll

N

lm

'II

has been

has advanced the theory that jhe Qe$twav disg.em 'and cl~$cribe. tb;e UlilclirioJlsl wfl.-brieatea thataefeJof the Japanese Is ro coinpare them to peasant-farmers, locked in dme and place, on a finite i'ieGe €)f sj;)il from which they gain their Itve,lihpoo. lie says that a key p'aft of the riI~tality tha:t: d~velopedfroin rhls inn'mate relationship with land was Cl, eempulsionfor harmony, since the, survival of each i\lU{ag(!:Liteta11y dep€;n.dea o.:p,(}niliestr:i,c't ob~el'wa.nQe 'OJ mutual concern aus'iCooJreratlon to build. and maintain die complex irrigation ysrems needed to gro.w rice. This village 'ffi~ni:ality G0ntin-u~S to prevail irt Japan in die f@fiil of groups and factions in bl1smess,. poliffcs, edueafion, and elsewhere. The J panese still't;end to regard a;Q;Y threat to the h.arn').Ofiyot their immtid'i! group, them eompanv, or fheir countryc'3.s a matter' of life and death nd try to do whatever is necessary to prote~t and maintain wa. Professor: Watanabe concludes that respect- f.or harmony is s,b'sttonlg lit Japan that it continues to weed out most @f the more competent,: maverick-type individuals, thus. frequently re;mlting in interi<)1 l~ader's r • hlng the summit of the seruonty system in all areas of Japanese lih'!'. 'X mpl s f this syndrome are so commonplace in Japan that ordi1 r ly eh yare aken for granted. Exceptions-are growing! however. partl ulmly In rh p ltdcal arena, where efforts to find and place acceptable r I I mini t r ind rh r c pfRcle! ha d g nerated into i farce that It 1 t: w til J 11 rill ( )1 1 a I r~ n 1 ns 'f c pe with 1I que ti n. kl y I.'tn 1 the Jl\' ne ulrure 0 h nn ,y i In l\ tltlld d ,II 11y rl (I 11111111 (II It II I • hL wh h m n Nil neih r /ill ,t ntt;)

Jochi's Professor Watamilie

6

B~hi:tid the Japanese

Bow
sensitive

TheJ~:a't:a Factor
to the threat of shame, _rughly
Sll,SP1C:fOUS

'7

/

/

love" - the kind of love ideally found between infant and mother. The lnfunt is utterly dependent on the mather and rausr tQ1>ally trust tne mother to do what is right and best for it, Likewise, the infant can. indulge in the IQ.omer's forwveness even when it is behaving badly. Unquestioned (!indolgent love" is, of course, known 0Jttt{1ideof Japan, but in the West irs application is generally limited to infants and :very Vo~ children. In [span, hewever, it became' one of the foundations' fer ,all relatisnships truoug:,pout life. Traditional Japanese society incorporated the amae concept within specifically categomed. and aefin_ed life roles called bun (boon), ~hich determined obligations atld life-style Within the individual categories. There was a bun-> and kata - for carpenters, for merchants, for samurai; for students - e\1en for professienal gan.gstets~ These life-role bun provided strict-,guidelihes for the presedbel1 rerationship between children and parent§. between ypungerand (.Joer Siblil;lgs,between. workers'and. their iSU;:peri0rs; between samurai WaniQIS and their lords, between the nation a whole and the emperor. All of these relatit)nship.'l in mm had their owu, lmta-ized behavioral ,g:qicles. The proper fimctiening of bun was based on every person knoWihg l:iis or her place -in life and keeping it aeC(')rcfing to the prescribed form, rut the while demonstrating honesty, integrity, goodwill, trust, confidence, and selflessness. Of course, the system seldom functioned fully, but the mass effort of the Japanese to live up to the. expeotanons of their own kara-ised Dun was, one of the primary factors that shaped their character -and contributed ~0 some early foreign residents remarking that living in J apan was like being a kind of weH-orderecl paradise: There were also 'Oilier cultural factors designed to encoudl:'ge or coni~ pel·the japanese to follow the kata-ized modes of behavtor required by the bUll reles of each Individual, The most import1J.nt of these concepts was expressed in the term gin (ghee~Tee), which means "obligations." There were ,$pecific obligati(}us that each person herd to others - to teachers, employers, l-ordSl3I1d so. an. These obligations were. spelled our in detail, _and failure to fulfill them was a serious matter. Ostracizafion and 'banishment: were some of, the 1igh.mJ' put:fl;$hments for the- worst
dulgent

as

of the motives <:)f others, and corre&pbndi:ngly conditioned to seek revenge wiLen they felt they had been wronged. Both giri. and shame are s-cill vel'o/ much >alive/ ba present~-daY' Japan. One also cOn:~tant1¥ hears refer~llGes to @hllgations that someone must fulfill because of his or her role in life~often much to chat 'indiviguars eh,agrill' These include obJj:gatory gifts, attendance aEweddings ,and funerals, catering to superiors, and so forth. Taking revenge, usually in subtle, behind-the-scene ways, remains a commen preoccupation. [apanese still strive to 'put keep all of their :relationships, personal as well as business, on an amae-impregnated role-rank basjs, This is the factor thIat' is at play when they go to such. lengths. and put ,50 much stock m"developing close, intimate l'eladon5hips with fOreigner& before doing business with them. Most J a['lanese are unable to comf9rtable in anvcl!ing bJl,t a cleal'l:y deSued, sQci:Uly ranked Iefationship made ~~safe"bY" the helief that tiher can expect indulgence from the other party when accidentally or {~utp_o:>ely breakingsome of the rules ot th~

ana

ted

in

in all areas of business and government attrlbuze the ounrrv's Phoenix-like recovetY from the de.sttuctlQO Qf WorId War II re he principle of kata-ized wa that underpins their culture. They hold that it 'was harmonious relations between labor, and managltment, between business and the government, and between individual that.made It possible for the people to work together with a single-rninded determinution to ere-ate the se-ealled economic mitaole,. Otber commentators, paru.c;utarly long"term fbteJgA: residenrs who h ve become bilingual and bicultuta], say, that the still pGlwenul shame Y' dr me, along with a CQnsuming pride, were the ptiptary m:ot~vatin,g 61 fOr that drove the Japanese in tHeir superhuman efforts not only to r huild their country but also to become one of the world's leading econ11 ~

relationsl\ip. Many Japanese

we! .

tl'ansgressions ..

'The immediate social sanction used toenforce strict Ufe obligations of the Japanese was shame, Which Was tense and overpowering that the only acceptable r One f the results f this 'Y ~ m w th ,r th 1 pane M'

obedience to the scm times so inur c W ~ ul td . Iw 'lilt III'I 'Iy

\

Soc! I harmony, based on following properesiquerte kata in daUy II h vi r (under the threat of being ostraci:z~d), rernaias the gutding I rinclpl In all Japanese relations, whether personal, husitiess, or politicuI,'! h waconccpt pervades the culture. It appears as wall art in the 11 'Ill f culltst phy, It I k V part of such common words as peace (I. IWII , P II III r hnl n (wa kaO, nnd p' ceful ncord (wa go). The lj I II 1 111' U II· oun try, Ym-t1tl.rtl, i wrtrt n wlr] rl ch r ct rs 11 " l nt J I urn Ill" Ij ft). he I III lit 'I) 'h . I ron nt of

8

Behind the Japanese Bow

The {lna Factor

9

"Japanese spirit," Yllmaw darnashii, is also read as ~a kon (japanese spipt)'·when th'e character for "great" is dropped. Some J,apanese who attribute the country's success to the spirit of wa claim it is contained in their genes. This, of course, i,s nonsense, as is evidenced by'the Iipndiedl!.Qf thousands ofJapanese~Amerkan~ ""ho are 'fully .assimilafei::l into Amedcmh culture 'and, as American expatrfaf€ , businessJJFmjlOle Schm~l:z&i:sJr:, 'Says, "speak with their mouths., not their

The Feeling of Riglitne:ss
and raistni, in a cult-pIal environment that was the result of centuriesef (!0ni'litkming in the art b-f li¥ing Japanes~ style. and it;!. the use _ofart.s .and crafts that wen;: products of riEiclly controlled ka'IB, each JaPlIne~e na'tuniijy depe_loped a.six:th sense, that told him, orh._er when thin~ were '(~ri:ght" tnat is, wh~n tliey were de&igne'd, made, ~sseritr 'bled, packaged, orwbatever~ in accordIDee with [apanese concepts of aesthetics, appropriare matenals, form, {ed, 'P,tirp;o,s~, and m~thod of use. ©Ver the centuries these standards became higher and higher. ultimat.eIVdemanding ,that even the most commonplace product be a masterpiece of craftsman.ship artd all services be pelforrp:ee ~W csnsumtnat~" stylized skill. The jap:an"ese naturally became so sensitive to the rignt:nells. ar 'C%)Irectne$S of' any~ervipe OT pruduet) Ule~recl by absolu,.t:e japanese'stanaal'cis" that: mewalmMst insEinCtiYeiy when Some1ihing; did -nOJ 'meaSUre up ~(j) these etandards, This tradraonal, charaetetistic reac_don.made them amol'igihe mQst td~rimittating1?eOW-~ ill th~ world, and often the quickest to pass judgment. ' Japan~ll ffiodern ..day re_gutation for cheap, shoddy, products, which ndured from 18':70 until the 196-08, was not of their own dOinga)ltt was undeserved. Whe~n the country was opened to the West in the J860s, onHgn importetst1o.cked in, hringi11g with them: samples Western pr ducts they wanted c0piecl tfie lowest" Jilossibte prices. These first foreign importers_ and those, who 'fQUQW~ them determined the q\lality of most of Japan's eXfJ-orts Ifntil the Japanese became stro.ftg eb-iJlugq to. '8cape £rom their influence nearly one hundred years later .. Wl,ile social and eConorniq Gh'Rnges it\;. [apan have gteatly clilutecl knr -ued conditioning in the traditional cultur-e -and, sub~equeht1y, the Lll rim:inating abilities of japanese bern after 1945, the japanese as a ",roup are still among the most critical people in the ~orla. THeir 'C-ultutilly pr duced emphasis on aesthetic excellence, quality, ana propriety r U\ "n~ one of their primary strengths. It gives them an edge, in design11!,{, mnnufa turing, and packaging products, as well as in promoting and 'Illng th rn.Teals makes them. very demanding customers. Th 1l~1 r of m dcrn [apanes ul ur is so prominent that [apanoloIII1U\l 1< nul r say rh· R n rally rh Jap n Be are lnnat Iy

&r:n

bellies. "
Japan marketing guru George Fields also disagrees with this ,gene theory. He SaYS wa in Japan teday is· better described in business terms, as "cdtpflrate S)iJirit, unitly of employees, and the consumer' always Cernes last." He- adds thar much of the wa that survives in Japan results from government .p'r~SS!lEt'; aad guidanc:~, . . flixamples of Japanese-style wa abound. Mor€ candid govermnent offlc~als and eOIJ:1Wa,uy eJiC~,eutivesre[),o,ily admit tha't4angQ (pahn,.g@J., or I'bidcigging," is conunon,in japari, but to, thl1:-m:'ft ls. just'wa,&twotk. Un-' ttl foreigners began complaining about the practice, it was not GOnsider~d ane.tb,iCil issue. The japiJ,ne~e involved wete perplexed @.d irritatea that foreigners made: an issue of it. but-a few iselared cmbplaints trom out~1:ders are not enough to eliminate a culturally entrenched kata that serves the Japanese establishment -so well. The original goal of wa was soeial harmony and political control, Now; as OecJIlge Fields. notes, its primary role is to eenrabure tID'eeoIl-'" c;njrlesuccess on acorpsrate, industry, and ttationallevel. In practice, the Japanese govemment's JlQUeoy of ptomoting' harmony wmetime-s elashes ~ith themteretitsQ.f indi:Vidual eompaniea, aAd C€lr~0rate managers go along .with it grl1dgmgly if at all. On a, coM.]lail'y level, adherence to- the principles of ~a is_usually conflned to tR~ compaayitself-arrd t€i any closely affiliated companies. Subcontraet fiFt:m; are generally treated as expendable. Other outside £inns are regarded as competitots"~nd adversaries. A not sutpr"JiSing characteflstic.of the Japanese th'atderives from their emphas.is .oIl., €QrJic,t fbrm and harIQ,on'5: is their tendency to avoid doing things altogether. if they aresuncertain a:lX>uthQW to them; This trait is part of the reason the Japanese are. often reluctant to set any precedentandha.bitually wait for semeone else or some other company to take the lead. This attitude is often one of the main barn IS for ign companies face in attempting 0 do busin 58 in Japan.

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Behind the Japanese Bow

The Kata Fanter

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The Uniqueness Factor
Long centuries of liying Within the kata-ised

1'\panese way' and never

c,';!i!ejng, ush less e.xf;lerienctm.!:, o~her \\flly of daily 11fe n:i!t111;ally lea m an¥
the Japanese to !;lccGlme.acutcly sensitive rc .anydev'iatinn (rQ,Rl their way QftlQin.~ thi1;Jgs. Thi~ factar cpnttibuted &ignifi' andy to their dev;elopirrg

e:s:p'f!daU¥'~strongc fee,l'iti:gs of beilig unique in the wod€! ~ feelings that persist t0day and influenee their personal behavior I;Qwa:t:d bu.siness relations with. (6,reigo. com:pante&,«Iuirl g'ov@rnm.ent policy. in internatiGlllru affairS.. These differenecs are so conspicuous that' one veteran Q~serv<tF,paraphrasing an earlier conU11:enta:tQt; said i0kipgly, "The Ja}:1anese.are sO; unique that it is uhiquely impossibLe to describe their
uniqueness.
• . U

japanese teelings of unitqueness are fi~quently talCen fo even further extremes, making f{(emal'pear foolish. Attempting to justify import barriers ag;;t_instfmeigp.-made ski equipment by claiming 1;hat SIl-~W in [apan J$ dlfferl;!nt frQm snow in ether cQtlUies' (iro tne"e'lw@ment won't work in Japim) is just one example. (The fact that they were exporting [apanese-made skis did not hae any effeot on the reasoning of the trade assQ.CiatioJ):S mvolved.) In the past, Japanese also have qsesl their. perceived uniqueness to just:ify all kinds of dfscriminatiQnagainst both foreign niitionals and products at every level of Japanese society, an attitude that has surfaced as part of the,irnatiQnalp,oliey. TJ::iliiattitlJde and beha,Yeior is dh.ecdy; opposed to attemprs to internationalize the country and it thwarts many of the efforts on both government and private levels tc:}b,ing' Japan into

Unfortunately ]~panese feebI1gsof l,lniquen~s Ut;i! often expressed in it very negative manaer. i\nlong other things, it makes it VflIy difficult;, or impossible, for un-Westernized jaganl¥>e tQ relate to n~p-JaPaJ.'l:'e:~e. Ev!;tJ. other ]I!p;mese who hecome pSJli!i:aUy de-Japanised by spending time abrclad ate treated, in varyingdegJees, as outcasts in their~)wn iSpli:iety after they retu~n bome. Se:h'(')@lchildren who havespent time abroad and lost some of their Japaneseuess are harassed by otht;:r smclems:; and in 'many Ca5\,!S, e:Ven their teachers. (In recent; years; special schoels have been built to help reaceulturate such children so that they [lire better ~le to reeneer [apanese societv.) BLrsinell"Smen who have pjcked up foteigr:L attitudes and mannerisms while serving their companies on overseas assignments Often find that they are no longer fully acq:pted by their 6Q-v,/0tkers or management when they return home. Most maior Japanese companies have tended. to. follow a polityot not hi1;ing non-japanese employees wIthin Japan,IDciucling ethnic Korearr ~ Chinese rt;lsidents who. were born and raised in J apau are citizens .. and are v.irtually indistinguishable from ethnic J apa,nes!:).The rationale for this wHey \y'aS that non-japanese dQ not; ;and 'canne, fit "into the J~an1!se s~tem becal1i'i8: they-are not Japanese, This discrimination is also' regularly app)ie.q to Japan's minority P9pulatioH of "ul.'ltc.iuchablesP wh~)sii! IZ}nly difference is that they are descend ants, of Japanese who were involved in the slaughter of animals and working with animal hides during the country's Buddhist-dominated period. Larger Japanese Brms have be n known to buy lists () nnmc nnd ddr s S of families in this group in fir er l lIV II I lnudv rfl'l lIy hlrln :
j

the WQdd f~ily', Racial, cultural, sexual, and a;ge discrimiriation by japaness companies is not limited to their domestic pra-alices. Sgffi,= take the same mind-I:let with them ove~eas, whete they have encountered serious-repercussions fr m theit refusal/to hire blaoks and sometimes whites as well.

Kala Comes First
Th Japanese were traditionally condtaened to get their pleasnre from n1i rming to kat a, from deing tfiings in the prescribed 'manner. One of rhe f£ cts of this conditioning was to make ~he japanese process uti nt d instead of result oriented. WasDemers ate :fond of .saying, "I ,1 n't re how you de it, just get it d_0n~."Japanese tend to saVI "Dop.l't d) [ unless you can do it right (the right wa.y)." J pun e are happiest when they improve on a process, says manageIII ur guru Masaru Chio. "They. are p,~nfectionists.The slightest flaw in nything attracts their attention and they carmot fest lllitU it is1"\1"01 d," he adds.

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Behind the Japanese Bow were shocked at their laok of kata "and thclF 'Cr,qde ettqllette~ To th.<; JfltJap;_e:se theec;:rt1e~gne[s\ {p§llce_d; beHaved, and smelled like hairy barbarians with whQin thef hooabn05t h@tliing in cowm,0I\. Still today the Japanese at;ee~traqrdim"rily seJ1$itive to the appearsrrce, attitudes" and, behavior of fbreign~~s. Bee:alise. ®f th& exdustVitv iiif J:w~ese €w.ture" the japanese ar€l unable to ae~pt f6Feignets, as equals ::rnd tend 'fo be et,mfortable W'ifhtbem only:wnen _they are in: Japan as temporary visitors. ~s long as foreigrte!s can be treated as 'guests, the Japanese are a::bJI! to el¢ffipt tb:en;t from the d~a~ds Japanese .cultute and can extend 'eX'tl'aorClinary c0u!te&iesand priv:ilegeS:,t(Ythe.m. ~onguest fereigners in Japaninevital:5ly encounter: the cultural dichQtQmy tnatprevents the Japanese from fully accepting them on any basis except :a8' temporary visitors. Foreigners. in Japan must therefore continuously pc -awm:e that as tolerantand hospitable as thelr Japanese hosts ate to sh6ff~tennv;,isitors - w-ho,are. not e~ected to lStli',)wOIpracdee 'their kata-ized etiquetre-> Jl'l.ey are still emotionally atreetedwhen
Jaganese ing up in Japan,the

NQt s!l.l$msingly, the tra:cHj;ipnal Japanes(u:ra-pdard w~eR measuring or evaluating iridividuals' is atHtlld'e first1 effdr.t second, and oosuits tfura. In sports and other activitiee, pattidpants ale honeeed and rewaEQed ~n reebgoition of their al'titucie"spirit, and effort 'as well as their- vit:tories. Proper observance of every traditional kata in to:day's Japan is no longer a life-and-{;kath issllec' ana sotne l\q,ta; have", rread1 iUsappe,ated. However, :uthersate still of Voital impottahce, colormg anet" ,often centrolling the thoughts (<I-'ndctions of vit±uafiy aU~ult japanese in a many areas of their lives. Jal"ahese kafa for n~gotiating, fm example; play, 'a vitw role not only in 9usil?-€SS,}~ut in"'interna:lij0nal re1a~toD;~laS well. ;!<iuhide MushakQj~ formetJy pr'L}feSsof of iutemati@I):al relati:ous_atSophia Uiiiv€r,sity in Toky:@, described the Japanese l<ata of -diplomacy and :aegottaoclng as the, aT~ of awa,se (ah-wah~s:ay) or l'adjullttnent," while Westetners; {bnGW an eidbi' (aye-rah-bet:) or "choice'" style. In other words, tile" Japanese negotiate by ,adjusting or ad~ptin,g to -d\ffer:ences, ~hj]e Weste'fn~~s- ttegGt1ate· by selecting speCific options. The Ja~anese take a broad,tle:K,tble appro Gh. Westerners tend to take a mo~e ~narrowj highly defined approach, The ]?t:1a.nell.elleek nonspecific ~enetalities that take into aceount all the shades,in betWeen s~edfics. West.ernetfde-m:ahd a logical structure m-ade up of specm9 concepts and their epposites, ' Japanese ;soc,iety lives by the kata ofadjustmenr, see1ningLy w-ithrew hard -and fast-ediics tjrclear-cuutlOral rules of the type/found in West~ em cultures, It is soft and flexible and can be readily manipulated by seU~;seeking and ;aggressive individuals and gto'Ups Within the s@ciety. Chr.ffirianized secieries, on the other hand. gttempt to liye- by pr~e:iI'lles eniboclyipg hard, infle,XiMe rules; It 'Should not be surprising that me~t, ipgs between Japarrese-an'd Westerner&-bften result in misunderstaNdings
and friction.

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behaVior as arrogant! often ilih~'tl" ana typicaU~"'ilI.m~nha~d,while Japanese heHavior Gften appllii'!iFS WSincefe, vious, and dishonest to Westemel''5:, once they· get bey;ond· the fatn0liS fl ade ofJapanesg ceurtesy, Intimate knowledge of the kata factor helps
Ww>tern

nyone, foreignetsjncIuaet'l, behaves "incorreetly." Oven and aociYe fitis senSitiVity" the [apanese are.;pfone to

tc;sani nor-

The Comi~g ~f Poreigners
Because 'of 'the intense cultural conditioning undergone by all Japanese during the feudal age', any deviation from "correct" though and form was a serious moral and thical ransgr ston, Behaving in ny w y h r

to bridge this cultmal chasm By sensitizing- the ~isiting foreigner ro the , needto obsewe,propel' behavIQ[, and to awoiGl ituation,S, ill which non, s , nformity woulit se:Oously j~dpq:r.dize the goals at hand. " It is especially Important fbi; foreign businesspeople, politl€iaM, and dlpl mats dealing with ~he Japa;n~s~ to become- fainiliru: with Japan's uta-bed etiquette system and ch'i;tir 'S{l.ll!dal sensitivities in order to avo~d erea jng unnecessarv ill will. ' SpeCific kata and how they "impact on <ttl interpersonal" relirtiortllliips w h tbe Japanese, along witli strategies for ti@iilingwith. them, are dis" WI. d in me detail in the following chapters.

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The Kata-izsnon 6fJalian

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The Kata-ization of Japan
The Way of the Gods
The origins of Jag an's extraordinary kata oan be traced to a number of historical influences:' beginning With ehe -native .religion ef Shintoism, generally translated as "The Wa:y:of the Gods," and continuing with the intreduction of the irrigation meshed of rice farming and the imgQrtation of Buddhism, Comudanism,the ideegraphic wril:ing system, and various other culturalarufacts from China. S~tQi-&m is an a1i'limi:S:ti~ b,elief based orr-cosmic k~rmony among gods, spirHs, people, and the physical world of nature. It is the.indirect, but culturally pervasive, source of many ef the attitudes and customs that distinguish the Japanese from allorher people. It was apparently the influence of Shintoism that led the Japanese to refer to themselves as the people ef Wa, attesting to a very eaTly eomrnitmem by the Japanese to the principle -of harmony as the foundatton for their sodety. The first emperors of [apan combined the functions of religious and secular'leaderS1 servJng as nigh pt:iestS as wellas ·sovereigns: The emperors and their courts were thu~ as much concerned with form as With essence, An overriding principle. adopted frem Confucianism, was harmon:y between heaven and earth, and between rulers and the ruled. This led to the development of a highly controlled behavior design d to express subservienc and rp t war sup rior h -lUI 1'1I: Iylh~
I

ceremonies asscciared With worship were,thus infused into the conduct of ~aily-affairs. The japanese affinity for fptrp_ruizing ipJ;stitQtj,pna1i~ipg, rirualizing and ptoG!dure,s and processes may uot I1ave actually orjginate'd-,in Slnnrorsm, but this characteristic Japanese behavior was surely nurtured by the pervas-ive :reUgj:ous practiees_ that ~rk:ecl lire in elIrlll japan , GQ:nel~cl<lng pre.e-iSereligiOUS rituals duzens of times tlirough0u~ each yeat was a major aspect of Japanese Lifeftem the dawn of their history, and in each 'fartWy at least one member was expei;;~ecl to be versed in these rites. Whatever the origin of-the wa concept, it was to become one of the main fuFeads in the culuira] fabric of Japan, influencing its form,· its texture, _its 0(')101, and itsspitir.

TheWay of Wet-Rice Fanning
Japanes_e secia] anthropologists believe that the intFo~uction'oJ irrigated wet~Iic& famtiug into Japan £ram Chinasbmetime .betWeen 1,000. and 00 B.C. had an especially profound. .effect on the country's social system nd subsequently- the character and behavior of the Jap.,anese.,!Io; Many historians clstrn that the life-stvle that emerged with wet-rice f~rming in such a limited land area imbued the Jawa;nese with ~ e:xtl:aordinat'o/ <de.!l'ree of patience, pefsij'veran,ce, 'diligence; C0op~rativeness~ and group Cl:ependence because this kind of fanUfng required ver:yelab;:iratetirtigation systems that could not easily ~ built and maintained -w protected (rom marauders - by single families, • Although th€ Life-styles of the great mass of Chinese peasantry had long since , "n kata-ized, imbuing them wtiil many similar cultural traits th,at were later 1'1become characteristic of the Japan~se, the Chinese were then and are still now slgnlfica.ntiy different trom .the Jap;mese. China is physically huge, There II Immense differences in the terrain a.nd the climate: The coiLtrt:ry equally i$ tllv Me thnicaUy and culrurally, with dozens of languages, Throughout the • h fll ry of tli country, distance and politics limited cultural progress and homo'nlztl nt Llny P re nt g of the populad '1, Continued political, opd 1 k p r n I fr m h v k pt h h n II from b ing a I' t th ~r nomu I J p n [.rvp Pl, t rulr 1.

14

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Behirid the Ja'panese Bow

J'\m(',l!ug the: most cOtl$pi~J;lbil& Japaue5.e ttm~ S,aid, Eo have been fostered by wet-rl'e:e farming was theaceeptance of'discipllire andte~tt1;lematip~. Th~ indi'iicl~( \V~o·diiiLupt 'G~nfpnn wa$ .qUiit~l;:y q§t1'a&i.z~q te 1ttIDt'e~ and su:sr~it1fue gl't'!liP; The pmces.s of'rief: fa:r:mlt).g was prescribed doWJ;1 tq the lastcfetaU. Any deviation angered not only one's (flmily, w¢'uds" aael. neigli~&'. ~1.fvthegQds JtS 'weD. Th~ whole: 'ecpm:QmiE IJase of the country I!here;fbte becatne ,orie glant( rice-'taising kam that made. .group khavim., C:9Qpeuati'ofi;:setf-saerific.e, anq harmony mand~:t'ory. Also Mer)! early mJap'ati1s hiStory; prooablY$omfltime :b:ef@rk·!A.~.D, 30Q.i -i;he (!;oneel:l.~Qf;mehi :~in (kcr&:pliee kQ€!-meen), in ~bi&ntt&e.l!lfld and the peo.jple. i'tre16ngetl t6 the' -emp¢ror and the pen,pie .had noultifuate tight tQ_own pri.vate' property or to be independeIlit, was Imported nom ChIitXa-.'This ·help.ed t~ .s,;etthe stqge fQ:X' Virxu:atlyaP$,QiI.lte ,cGt'tt~ol ofthe 1"i2€lplebythe sta,te ;and the ,gradual development 'uf many of the other ,eu1tU~al traits :that wen:' to dis'tm,g;uis:h thee .Japant!s:e down to m,ODern
times.

JapanCAie [;aids 'cn,L~O[ea r:~sulrecl- ina mass in:£ll.\X @f8hinese ..FZ:orean culgrants', and larer: CH'irtBse seholilrs' and pt:iests .. Thereafter, 1<t)'llea ,anti C~ weJe to pla;Yfle~aing;ror~~ the devel_ppmentof_},\ZJ{,h, culture and
kata-ln

tur;i1 j~U~qs:~& Ln't'o.}agan •• ~'s.tLy; tbIB1;lgn' ijoS;eatl pl'i&!iitlej;f;; and itnmir

The Country of .Wa
Prt9r to AD. 300", J apanes€sociery €Qns·~st~d of relatively inde:p~ndent fumtly clans that exetcise~ domfl,:irt in theit own smailaseas. Around ·A.B. 30(\ one 9f these clans became' paramount in the area now. known as Nara Prefecture' (a.~bEJr:.tdi$t~n'Ge finm KYQ.tP"J:n~ Osaka) and e~tablishe-d 'itself as the Yamato, Court; ..dainrli(g sovereignty, 6'~erthe entire countJ;yi Later lUstqriilns' labeled 'the fU;$t leader ·uf.rfue YamatQ Eourc as

ErQ;1'n around A.D. 550 two-way travel and trade between Japan) Korea, ,and Chip.a ~<%;fIll'le,quite '€(;)mm-bn. RHljgi;oJ;(S.<scho'l~:I!S"n Pi;,u:l'iieJI/, i lar serv:ed as .cohduit-s 'for in1porritfg .CLiMese cuHnre int0 tb.e 'islands. Theritua:1±zed cerem~11l1eS' Chlna"s Imperial :Cow;t and the ~QP.hi~tiof 'eated:e:tiquelXe, that ,China~ -.:nit:ii,s-t'l't"l,'$ .arm m:mtlaJ:ins hfl,d tll(:,vdoped over m0~ than3,Q()O' years were gradually ds-sitnihiteel. into Ja~an;'s already' highly, Sttu._c;~urel:llmperials:ystem. DetGtum. ma. language aFptmpfiiilt'€ fQT alldtes~ittg t'ne, g(~Hikeefu,. perGl':of Japan,. beQamee;xquisi~ely Etylizecf ,and 'then codified, .Every r:nClvem~nt :Qfdie htldy,ev~!y :Stanee.t:'V~tlth~ barre of ~he v~j:c~¥ w~_s precisely establishe& Ai\ drily sHglltty 'less lufty lev-eI1O£ etitiftletee waSre.quired tor other menibers orehe Imperip.l (1';0Uft. , As time 11J)J;~se,d s.ystem of clan ~f~atitl !i~~ b,)Tg:$:b~j;am'(i: t'ht; pataa mount J!lQlttical ~ sosial structure. in ,Japan. TIiese- clan lords .set up their@.wn gnvlin,J-ments", P9tteming thelJ! <liter> th~ Imperial C{;lullt jq farm as' wei! a&>rittlaUstiQ JiJeHaviar. COutt ,etiqtiene was thus:. "brought to elite fam~iej, fm@ugnaot the country, {luther' sfr~l\gtl1e-ning the custom of ritualiifug aJl'fttaitling' mrdJearJ'ling, .

Ja12all.

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;The Mother I{ata
When Japan first began inteecouese with Kerea and Chlna, the Japanese hud no system of :writing: Ar1i>urud the middle Df the d'rb_::~ c'enRUrY '~ M'hulnr named Wani brought several volumes of tne Arlitlfil!::ts. of (ionfi«:il-ts and a textbook ferstlldying the Chine-se wntw~ system to IIPUll from Korea, but very little came of this inc;isent.B;Y the eady IIIUlth c ntury, however, the Imperial Court of Japan was employing , Korenns who had m{grnted to Japan to serve as offiCial recorders using t lit, Lh n 'II~ wny Df wrltlngl which rh Japan S enllcd Kan~Ji (kahn-jee) ,
~i( 11

Jrmmu Tenne

Sucteooing emperors contU1,uedthe ptcraess Cit unifying the €Gunt'ry" Wbich carne to be- known as; :Y4mttW (~~m~h~toe' after ·the: founding Cil~ Yamata is: all,0'taet r-eading tnr the word wa, m harmon?, once again atte&tin;g to an earl¥ fimelamental coriunftmerit by the Japanese to

01' EmP5=tiJr-Jithmu.

Following the ascendancy of Japan's Yamato Court to power, however, sever~ military expeditions were launched against Korea - an early sign rhar harmony in the Japanese context MIS primarily designed to shape and channel Japflnese be~viClr for lnrernnl plHflllA'~ nod did not ~p ,etfi nllv apply to rhetr rl'lo.l.lor)lIhlp~ wll h 1111111111 II, !W.~l'

the eone:ept of ~ h)ltffi,,(JJ;:ilim.ts· ;soc;iety.,

m. ur

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I1vc-r
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11['1 ~H ~ Iwbd!1B

n I t'l LId uf 11 thowliIlHl "pk tur ~" of the thlllH~

18 Behind Japanese the

B0W

The Kata-izatiQuof Japan

19

and ideas tne~ represented. Little by Iittle, these pictures were styli2ed to. make them. OIqre' eOD,Sist~nt In, shape and sue aaQ, t1:ter.e'fere, e;aS"ier to draw in Iarge numbers on small sheetsar semUs @fpaper, as well a& more aesthetically attractive. By the time the "oharacters'larrived in [apan, they made up the world's m(')~uop'histicated sy'stem of writing. Over tne next. hundred arso -yeatS the descendantS· of these Korean scribes graduiilly transcribed most. of the, J~pan~e language late Kan- [i, In tbis extraordinary graftin:g~m~ess they used the japanese psonunciation when the original meaning of the Ghinese ideograms and the Japanese wards were the &:ail;l.e, and maintained, the Chtnese pronunoi, atinn when theV were not. Since each Chinese character expressed-a single idea, it wa,rne€es~ry to make-numerous adaptatinns and addirions to the- system in. C'lr.dert@ . expresscomplete thoughts in Japanese. One of these adaptations was to useChinese characters that had the same seund, as Jqpaneses'l'llaqI(!s or Wi;lrd~ Iegafdles~Qf the 'ol"iginal meaning Glf the Chinese ideqgrams., -Another was to use: a phonetic script to add the proper Japanese word endings to the base Chinese charaeters, Mel,lloti.ring and learning how to read and writ.e thousands of cornplicated Chinese char ac ters, with their multipJe 'prpnunoiati0ns, was a challenge of itn.lPense pnJpQrtlolis ,and beyond the means of, most Japanese who-lacked the time anei motivation. . In keeping with Confucian principles, of separating the sexes, fe.Jn;;tles were forbidden to study the imported Chmese-ideograms. Because of this Imperial edict, ladies of the Imperial Court .and the aristocracy resorted to using the word-encling phonetic script, and subsequently played a k¢'¥ role in developing it into a:'sllnpie shorthand system of miring the entire language phonetically. This new phonetic ,syllabary system developed by upperelass women became known as Ortna~~ (own-nah tay) or "woman's hand," since it was used 'almmif exclusively by 'Women for pttvate cornmunirarion and the wuting of poetry, diaries, and, later, nevels, This is the writing system now known jts hira,;gaTll1 (hee-rah-gah-nah) or "flat letters." In a further e'ffort tosimp_lify the Writing Q£the language a totallvseparate phoneme svstem, de'riy:ed from parts of themultistroke Chinese characters, was developed by .scholars in the ninth and tenth centuries. This second phonetic ystem became known as kata-kaTi (k h-tah ..kahnah) or "incomplete let ers," and is the one now usccl In J an ~ r writing he housand of fI r tgn w l'd~ char hav , hl' 'II t L»lllli ~ n () the 1 nn,W11ll1oI' '.

D~spite the crea.tion of twepflonetic writing systems, rile difficult Kah-ji remained·the writing systenHJf die Inipeti:alOlutt, the agencies of the govemment,i:he priesthood) and the male members. of the upper dasses for centm after centuty, e.#en:t:uallybe~on1i.ngone of the 'Primary crucibles of japanese cultute and the Japanese we know today. Each K"BO- Ji was made lit'!, ·of one to. a d~zefi or Q),0re wtlje>ining strokes. The 0tder in whith e.a"ohstroke was to he ,execut{!dWaS'carefully prescribed and no deviation was allowed. i'\m~mg [apan's upper class, boys began the long proc.<;ssof learning b:ow 1'0 read and Write Kan-]i from 'flbout the age of-fi-ve, sperid4tg a number of hours each day for the next several year~ pragtic~~ the p.respribed ka:ki~kata ~r."way o:f ~7j::iting. Since the Ohinese icleogtapbs depicted actual thfrrg:s andconctpts, they communicated more than just sounds as do our familiar ABc&. Using ~em as a system of communicating- and recording infqnnatit;?H. nd concepts: was therefore much mote .of a petsonal expetience, with: far dccpetand stronger ps;ycliologicai coneent than words spelled with phenetic tetters. In a reeeat ex:getiment where ¥atiQusstr~kes were ombined to createnonexistent Kan-Ji, Japanese respondentsfrequently rgued With each other oyet the "correct" meanings Q{ the-I'characters." The mental corrP;imtta!tou amd kata-ized mechanical effort required t€l memorize and write thousands of Kan-jt correctly had a fundamental ef~d on the psychelogical ~ physical development all e,aucated J upanese males. It ingrained in them patience ..and' diligetic'6, enhanced manual dexterity well beyond the nrum~and prepared them for a lifeM ylein which fot:m and order Wel'e paratT).ount, Learning how t@ draw the Kan-Ji characters also imbued educated panese with a highly developed sense of barmony, form, and ~tvle that combtned to give them a deep understanding and appreciation of aesrherlcs, makin-g each, of them an artist-of no little skill. In addition to making the Japanese g€!od ::\.1: doing small, complij:.ated things with their hands and enhancing their sensitivity to fotTtrs and I, lgns, training in writing Kan-Ji also conditioned the jaeanese to be pati nand 0 persevere in their goals. The long-term practice of Kan-ji tim became a mold that shaped the Japanese physically, emetionalls, , IIII nr llectuellv, homog nizing them and binding them to their culture. • I II g K n·JI during J pan' I ng f. udal ag did not end with In IlIll'rlnM d Ir pr nun Irion • In nlng nd tr k rder, [; 11' student tit- It 111I wu ·qul I tl be III ude t dr wing 1111 ohm, I~I. n 1. II! II 1nlillWI kllll n n .0 (.h)wdt L W be
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The ~ata~izati'on ofJal2an

21

When skill in writing the Kan.JU(;ieograms was I:'lursued b~:yond bask requirements, which many Japaaese did, it hecame a fine art. The gH~atest ,caliig{aphers won lasting fume, In fact., skill jn ,wriquK ilie ideqgrams b&c;:a,me $,0 ihlpgltaut. luting the hey!i:J'iIofJapan!s feudal age ('A:,D. 119.2-18€l8} that how weUone could wFit€ Became a measure of ros character and worthiness. ,
I

Midway dUW1g dn:'per;iod that the charaoter and skiU~builaingBran-- Ji'

was being introduced into Japan, the Imperial 'goveu't, menr Institutionalised the e0nc_ept a;caIe:€uILy pres~rib;ed harmony. w.." 'kecame ~h.e 'Qffi~ial polity of the. go,1,'.ertItfifjht, in A.U Mil when Prince Shotoku named. it as the foundation of all human relations.ttr his famous, "Seventeen :Articles," which later histotialllS weJ;e,tIQ. all .lagan's c nrst cons tiru ti(O)U. With wa ftrm!y established as the essence 9f their social systet;lI, die. uppeJ"-elass japanese thereafter' fasruQueQ all of their sosial rules and instlituti€Jli:s,;as well/as their lan.g~.t~ge; to corttrilsute to the cultural goal ofbruIlilony;. Nt> area 0:1:" facet of J~anese life was untouched by:this:o~e
wtLt!ing system

or

specialized t~Ghniqtlesiiu0 minutelydetM:led kata that t]QV'erea not/only physical actions but attitudes as well. 'Eve~ tllopght, every move" flver:y, nuance t'Oe arts antI crafts kata wa'Sestablis.h~clJ and - just as in wrIting Kan-Ji - deviations were not t0L~rate.d. While this ensured that the lAa5te,ty of"eaGn craft wopll:l be passed 911 £'rem generatiOn to generati:ou, fu 'lnoo,y cases it also preverifed further experiinenta~onand change-> a factor that was eve~tu9-:Uv to contribute to the stagQ_ation <;>f Jq:J:lanese culture during the final centuries of the feucial edt. In one sense the J ag_anese Qf feudal ]apa,fi wete. ip. l'raitling for ue;)lily tWo tQ\lusandyears for the 'opportunities that were to be presehtetl to them in 1945, when, for tfie first £ime:in their hlstory, ,they gafned much broaHeE individu~. fre~deHn_, and coulcl,.e:ngage 'treeLy i~ a more, l:l_melilraihed and Cl'lmpetitive market. It was eniy in s:yoh a free environment rhat they could fully utilize the eJttraordinariy sensibilities and skills they:

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t)verriding principle.

Shikata of the Samurai Handicrafts and Arts
AlOJ1g with t~

Ohir;tese wri'tlng syst~m tbi:¢ Japanese ',of dnsearly age also impurt~d '\lirffially'all t1ie leading Chiaese arts and crafts, with the master-appremiee teacmng system cI'ea1:j;ng new cottage industries that ev.e:tJ.tuailysl1ltea'd throughout the C-0untry. Qnce the Japanese learned the: basici of these new arts and c.tafts~ they began 'experimenting with the designs and produetien t~c_hni€lues,atmpting rllern to ~1:iit their .:filw'n tastes,

the beginning of the twelfth 'Century most of the authElti~ 01 Japan's I .rial Court bad been usurped. by :powerful provincial dan lords who mutntalned their own armies of warriors. In the 118-Os, YQuit~mo M 11 mom, a leader of nne of thes~ warriOr groups, defeated the Qt:fi.er It Inls in a series of battles -an"d emerged as .HIe supreme power in the

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or nine, were appr.enticed hi)' skilled craftsmen audattists, snrnetiwes {Of m1: many .~ 'thirtydr even forty yeats, 1'0 master each craft or art. Thev, in tum) passed the skill on to tlteir own apprentices. Given their natural propensity for structuring and for01flliz{nH'very-

art took many Boys, otten·,a

Learningrdre skil~ necessary tOldupUQate a (3hinese handicraft orfine rears, however; -and sometimes more than one lifetime.
young as eight

Mtnamoto petitioned the reignmg 'empemr for appro!.lal I!Q set upa tu lit ry government to administer the civil and military ,affairs of the II III ry! and to use the title Shogun (lS.hO\v~gI!>Qn), "Generalissimo," or IlI,t'm, sror had little choice. Min'amotoestablislied his' headquarters in rmnkur j far to the northeast of the Imperial capital of Kypr.o (a onehlill Ir n rid ou h of present-day Tokyo). He then coaflrmed the

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Behind the Japanese Bow in Zen practices was ritualized, institutionalized, ana katal~ed lik'C "eveJlytnm'g else in Jap;;wese life. Zen priecSts were also hard taskmasters, demanding extraIDt'dinary endunana.e, pe.rs.eyeranCej and dedication from those wanting to sharpen their mental and ph~sical skills as-well as rheir awareness, Those who QUI$ued Ze practiceS'figotouslv fat many years often developed a kinCl of sixtb senSe"that gl1eatly e)tpan_c;led"~heit abilitY tohear and uadersraad and. to "know" thing,s that ouldnon be sea-no The len-inspired kata training system of the samurai also further condltioaea this elite class of Japanese to sacrifice their lives in the pursuit of perfection and orCier and the successful .oarryi.ng @utofNieit obligations to theirjtnasters-a1l waits that are-today still associated with Japanese in general. Japan's many len temples are still thtivifig toda~ and, in fact, experineed a wave of renewed ipt,eJ."€st in the 197:0$, particularly ameng husinesSple0ple who rediscbvered the advantages Qf. using the traditi0fijJl llscipline and phll~s<?phy of Zen as a weapon in' their eompetitlbri with lomestic .as well.as foreign busines~ adversaries, Thousands gf Jap~nese III nagets now spend part of their on-the-job. training time in Zen It mples, undergoing the rigorous ,discipline of mea it"at ion sessions to help II velop patience, perseverance, :enduranee., and,'clrey- hapej AGSlnk. wi dom. . uring the Ipn,g courseo! Japan's feudal age when the. samurai class I "ned supreme (-1192-1868), much of We ethics1ffiOl'a]ity, and mann r of the samurai were gradually absorbed to a sjgnificant degree b)l ~l' ower classes, particularly l ihe merchant class tl:xat'1'osetdu~ing the I t centuries of the shogunate: aynastiesfrQm_ the mid~se:venteenth cenI ry n. Training

positions of the prc;JVin~ialclan Ierds who had fought on his: side during the war andconfiseated the lands mfthe losing lords, reass~g them [0: his allies. The Kamakura period ma1*ked she oeg'inning of the shngunate system of military government that was to prevail in Iap!ID unti11868_, nearly 700 year~ Iateli':; wqen, the. Ta$tshQgutl, stepped, dowf;l.. Wmtiprs, of rhe ~hQgr1nate·andt:h'-e dan lards wete known as samurai, a derivative of the word meaning, ''''to guard" or "guards." The prefession 0.£ s.amtitai ~opn became ..hereditary and reached new levels, of deveIepment as a class of warrior families ranked at the top of the social system. Qverthe g~ner,at,ions, the sa:muta~ warr,iqrs d-evdoped their own "class kala comprising.it cellecrive COGe @f thought and etmduet knewn as Bushido (buu-she.doe) or "The Way of the Watrior, " which appIied_tp all the members of their familtes. This code_dem~ed absoluee loyaltY to the clan lorn.extraotdinary skill wii:h the sword and other weapons of war onthe pan of male members ef samW\M- families .. plus adherence J(lI the ritualized ~tiql1ette followed by the Imperial and dan COUI'ts. Achieving the skUll) and commitment demanded lw Bushtdo required ~upreme dedication and effort. The discipline and techniques of Zen J3uadhism, which was introduced into Japan from China during the thirteenth oentury, were quic:ldy a:dopted by: the samurai and became one' of the pritnarv vehicles for their physical as well as spiritual training. Zen was a significant move away from the mystical arid esoteric beliefs and practices te>f Shintoism and Buddhism. It was b~ecl on realism and -practicality.l('S.,goal was to help advocates discern between the real and the imaginary, and to achieve perfect harmorry between the boclvanp_ the mind through. rigOJ0US mental and physieal discipline. The goal of Zen foilow.ets in feudal Japan was to make 'alf of the actions of life an l'!Jq?ression of Zen ~ a!3.ttons that ceuld be perfected only thrppgh meditation ,to,:achieve harmony with th~ universe, followed by'physioal 'practice tel te;ach tIie body the proper mo-ves, Every adherent was to be aQ e:xann~lt;of living Zen. Zen pratt4c~ was jusr as carefully c.odifted as the making ota piece of wttery or proper behavior in greeting ~d C(i)llVersingwith a highranking superior, There was a,pre$qibed way for the pIb€.ess frDm beginbing to end. Meditation wa-s" the way to understanding the relationship between human beings and the world at large. Mental discipline was the key to controlling and directing the body. Endless physi 91 practice in the desired skills was the third step in Zen tralnln,q.
l'

the

oy

Shikata of the Swore

I

I
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samurai, w:a:niors. Dropping if( sartnrsai'ssworddr mishandling It in any W;IV brQughtmany 1ucIdess Japanese a pamfal d:~a_t:h'at, the-hands ell} th~ sword ownet.' ' ' Sword !Uikimg was;c@ilStanrly rtlftheO ~nd impjoved. until e~eh we:'Ipen was a work df art that surpa,.ssed ~WOI~ being m~e atlyWlletle else in bealttv, strength, ::mCL, utitihg elil-ge~8wordsmiths' would spend c -months finding the right pieces offueta,l to blcmt, tben weeh to montks: working. on a siQgle ,blade. Fashio_n4tg and honing the blade l'Yetame a, '~tQ-baS'enritualistk pmf;e§s ipfendeli to imbue the finished s}Vorcd. with its oWn ,spi,rft. Thepracticing of swordsmanship, by' ali of t'he males in thtl samurai d~s was. to hav:e. aprofotI.O,d-mflmmce on all [apanese and JapalXe§e ht~ tory from this time on. TEaming,'i,n the' llS~ qf tb:e',5wtItd began'when the sons ofsa;p:ltlrai were three' 01' four- years old, arid oolitinu~dthIOughout theiraetiVe llves 'as'waf'ribr'i;, Uhtil the end of th~'fe!l€l.alistic_,shog,utl~t.e,system in 1868, any samuraf warrior :was legall¥perIii'ittM to .cnt down, on the spot, flllY eommoner guil~of breaking':i! law or behaVing in a d~srespectfii'l tnll;lilRer. This was agreat incentive fot the JapanesefnasS'-es to obey all laws and codes cofeti!'{Uett'e. Durihg Japan's long feudal age only m,embt!cts thill samurai class were allowed to practice swordsmanship.rwldch Was known as Ken-Do or the '''Way ofthe Sword" (usually written ill Roman letters 1\$ \'kendQ"). Kendo schools we.re operated in aU the clan, fiefs 'as well as. in llli'ger citi~!l; and towns. During the early feudal eentuties, solid wooden staffs irnte'as ofreal sword'S were used in the rrai;ntng. Since-a stoLlt st:affin {tlie< hands of a stto~g 'opponent can be asdsadlv as a Steel sword, the training and e~hibition bouts .were very serious matters. In addition to, honing the, sw:ordilightiftg skills of the samurai, trainfrtg in j<,endD also emphasized the spiritual and moral respensibtlities of Wanic)J:s, along with the hrghlystyllied m~e:rs that were.the hallmark of the samurai clq_s.s. rollowllilg the establishment of the 'Iokugawa 5hogunate in 1603, and thebegirmirtg of a long peaceful era" the injury and death toll from kendo training o1i}a;Ceeptable. The use hf solid staffs gave way to flexible bamboo "Strips tied together. Protective gear, which. included helmets and face mas'kli, torso guards, and gauntlets, was developed and routinely used - except in 'the case of grudge or revenge bouts wh n th oontestants reverted [Q the tradldcnaletaffs wi h h n,

When. the shogunate' §YStem-oaf goyetII1l1-ent anrl the pnvileged samurai class were ended -in 18n8, kendo scnopls catering to commen peopleoon spl';ang up. Gfficers of the Imperial Army of ~apa_:nwere trained in the use Qfthe sword up to 1945. .', Following the ihtIoouction of delt1octac:~tint0 Japan after th€ ena lOf World Wa~ TI, the pfa.ctiee of kendo became. an important means of 1 veloping ebarasrer rather ¢han marti-al lWOWesS,:. T Qday .kendo, isa I pular pubU€ schaoi e1..Irfil3li1tlm and Is dH~ght in many private ke:n~e heels ap.,erated b.¥ ro.~rs ef the art, it is also a significant part of the Irointng'ofjapanese pdUce. The' kata of kencl.o,. eQdifie:d hundreds ~f years~ol is still pr¢aisel y folllwed in J~pat'l'~ket;ldr, scheols, AU of the rn0v~and thrusss as well as lh acc,ompanying, etique1ftte ale mimitel-y de:tJailetl. BGy5 begin. training ,~, l'udy as'r$e age e>£ five QI six.13ra:ining sessions are designed to instill urage, aggressiveness, and an'i'l'lexlial1stIblespir;it. . Kendo anti its lffita make' a signmtanr'centribution to the mentai and Ilhy~ical tn):ining ,Qt~arge numlre,Ts ofJ~panes@, furthercq-nditionin.g them n the etiquette and ffil'lMlityof th'e Japanese Way as well a!!<''Stretlgmet;llug wtlland spin1 in their peisonal and business dealings.

ot

The Ritual of Tea
Pl'rhaps no aspect of traditional,japanese
; Ih

hQ3m~

culture is mote rept~sentatrive role and importance of kata than the praetic;e. <;>f the tea cern ny, or chanoyu, (chah ..no~yUlt). The custom of Ciere.inonial realit Inking was inrrodueed into Japan frem KGl'eaand China 'in the 700s. Ar first the custom was followed mainly bvemperOl;S, members of the IIII( ti t Court, and Buddhist priests. Priests wou:1d"g~t'~er ih fro.htof a _lllfl1 ' of Buddha and drink tea with all of the rkualistic fonnality of a Illlly cr. m nt. As eh ntudes passed, the c~temonial aspects faded, wlly o be revlved during the Karnakura Period (1185 -1333). J uko

m t r I' hogun Yo. him s Ashikaga, is credited with tum t t1 r rn )Ily hun • 11 rhetl rltu I dllrinJ.( h 1.400s. The c r"Ill "y wu~ rill t lret d 'v 'hil d II nil n l( I fi ,d hy lh f III d Se 11 no Itlk Yll
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Behind theJapa.nese.i3ow

The Kara-tzaiion

Qf [apan

27

With Shpgun Yoshlm;asa Ashikaga, as a.patron, the ritualistic chiMing of tea 9uiekIy developeu into a publie ceremony that was regularly stage1i numerous people. Tea houses lIQoundeCl, The purppseGif the €eremany was to de:v:eJopand deTI1011Strate one's aesthetic abilities and the' ultimate in refuted manners. The kata 'of Chf1'DOYU WflS nUnutely detailed, covering, not enl"}; tHe place, dress, actions, and state of mind but the weather-as well. S!:agj:qg a ceremony was not a casual skill. It was' an an that re:quired years J!'£ practice, and lOT m\l1lY wa;s a prof'esslon of the most e~ctlri.g kind. Tea 1l):lSrtrs 'Were. among those honored as the great men of' their times. Practi~ing chanoru was believed: to develop refinement ,ana' 'c:,.haracter along with control of the body and the mind - all traits especially prized by the Japartese. The tea ceremony remains a maj:ot, eultu1'Bl prattke in present-day [apan, There are many "schsols," hundreds of tea masters, and thousands spedaUy built rooms where eerenronies ate staged regularly. Hundreds of thousands of iRdl:vid"l'als, particularly .suc.cessful older men and woIp_en,;regularly conduct tea ceremonies Ior"spedal £'riends as well as just for themselves. . . Besides, training and exercising aesthetic ability, tea: ceremonies also teach Jap an's highly refined etiquette, patience, endurance, and precision. Practiced properly, a teacl!remony ha~ a calming effect: on' the nerves and emotions, lowers blood pressure, and puts one in a peaceful mood. The tea ceremony is not only an exercise in kata culture, .out.it is also a kind of therapy that many Japanese -.utilh:e to rid them-selves of the stress of the modern-day world, particularly the non ..Japanese aspects of present-day society-and business.

ny

or

The Shikata of Sumo
(sue-moe}, or Japanese-style wrestling, dates back to well before the begjnning' of J apan!s wriuel1 histiot;y. It 'k; an excellent example of kara because it is in faet a quintessential Japanese activity- demonstradng ill a very public way the Japanese emphasis on order and form, ceremony, and ritual- and because it has _survived virtually unch ng d end is more popular and stgnifi ant tod y hm it wa a thousand y • IU Ii . Fans fllllmo LIT w II rwnre nfh' deuuled kuru, h1l1l1111 I dl~u HI I

training of the wrestlers to their techniques in the ring. Every facet of the lives of sumo wrestlers is c(,?vered by kata, down to lmJi¥ the huge men manilge to perl'0tm t:heiJccmjugill. duties 35 husbands. Sumo ~hegan_ as an oracular ritual .pectql'med at Shinto shrines to enuregood h1frvest$. Over the ·coentudes it graduallv became a s~ectator sport, at first still assoeiateCi with shrines. Eventually- looal lards and l s~es b¢gap spqnsol'ing their QWIl champjons, Some bouts between the 'hampi@ll5 rifcompeting LordI'!wetefights to the death. The attractions of sumo are closely bound up in its. conformity to ncient cu~toms and <!erel)1onie,s. The giant.~ized_ 10m cloths the wre~t~ lers wea'r, the ent:r:;y into the ring, the' c;eremQnial t@$.S of 'PurifYing salt, rhe repeated confrontations between wrestlers before they attack, the \uaUing of the winner at ringside, afrcf the·D.n:;dtMit1ing of the bow a~ (he day's end -all aile part of theJeata of sumo. Sumo has some seven~ grecisely earalogned wafS of att-ackingan opp neat ancleitheT fon:~ing hitn ro tQuch the gremnd inside the ring" witb nnvthing other than his feet; or eject:1rrl! him from. die, ring. But bnlY' a losen 01' so of,the moves are commonly used. All of these precise moves ur totally familiar tb.' fans, ~na are con:unented on endlessl): b;y sump t It eastern covering the bouts f0r radio ana television audiences. Sumo became a AationaILy ot:.ganized profession. dl1ring the TeKugawa lIT Edo period (1'603- 1868 j. There' are presently six l;ouhiIarne<nts: a y.ear Ii 'h lasting for fifteen dl.lYs,meaning there are houts for ninety of the hr e hundred and sixty-ave days of the year. Eihibi1;iQn b@uts,are heW h ddition to the regularly scheduled tournarrterrts, and in oetw'een ruu naments fatlSnlaY visit the <different stIl)'lo b-eya (bay·yah) or U rnbles' to watch their faverites in tra:irri.ng. lJnng the spring, summer, .fall" and winter tournaments the sumo 1\1 lu m are packed with loyal fans, while millions of Qthets wat~h_ the till 1y bouts on television ~ all feeling a strong' klnsnil" fot the kal:a of the port and lavishing praise on wrestlers who excel in. the various

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28

Behind ~heJap'an~e Bow Just as other areas of [apanese life 13ecam-e·kata~iz¢'d durl)lgrlle nation's long fe-~udalperiqd, the stYles and ruie~ of Eoe-try Werll ,equally formalized and thereafter t.0httibuten $tsnmeandy to ~e ps-ycholggyaQ.d behaviol' Q{ the J9:panese~Poetry certainly. plays a lesser tole in Japane~ ocietY leday, hut it tetl1(IinS"$1_ l'?0pu)ar pastime and each year tens .of thousands of people, induding members of the lm.petial f~mily, maitieiI te in 'a nati(m~l contest.

£rom China berween the 'fourih,_(!.llci seventh, centuries, but pdor tel this pectC"ld [apan hadp.:rO£6.1!stopal oral hJs_t-orians along With starytelle.:rs and entertainers -wIlo often e~pressed their commenlaty in th~fbrmof The ¥xtr~cillc:tiQn (if the Kan... wrtting system into Japan between the Ji centuries spurred the wsiting of Qhines,e ... sryle,poetry, but dhd not result 4n;p:opu1arjzi~Wt'l0eO'Yw-ritrngatnong the. masses, bow ... eser, b:ecaus~ lemnipg Kandi was limited to uJilper-class males. Teachers were,stricdy pl'ohibite~ from wl!:1'ucting even ~p~r-dass w<!!men.in 1i~w
{bur;tili, and, seV-em.tn poetl:)[.

to read aJ;ld write the_sen:l:isac.redcharacters,
It was not tintil the eigliih and ninth centuries when a simpliliedphonetic writing sy§tem based en Kan-Ji was deve19~d thqt0l"l~hel people were allowed.te learn h@w towrite, resulting in a massive outpouring of literature. The new system .provided an exttaordInar,y impetUs f(:ll,' the leisured court ladles of Kyot€> t-o mak-e the})Witipg of poetry .an :lmRottaht paltdf ~heir life-stYle. japan0.&' ·first anthologies of poetry, written by emperors, courtiers) ladies-ill-waiting, priesss, warrrw-s, ana ordinary people, date from thts 'earLy P!!riq,rl. During the heyday of the Imperial reign in Kyoto from 794 -until 1192, form:a:lly ]udgeq poetry c(}ntes~ wer-e reg:ui::rr affairJl. Ladies and lords of the court regularly communicated in poetry. Poetry writing became an honored profession, with titles and finarrciiIl rewards best0.wed 1.1I)Q_f1.themasters ofthe art. . After: a us~rpation of national power in 1192 by Yoritomo Minamoto, the. first· of japan's shogun warlords, the members of thelmpetial family and their huge tree of lineal relatives became a completely leisured class. They subseq~eridy devoted even more time to writing pee)!\f,y and other aesthetic pursuits, setting an example 'for the still [arger number of priests as well as the class of profes"Sional samurai warriors, that developed following the appearanee of the shogunate form .govemmen t, The more professional ahdacc.omplished the samurai warriors, the more likely ~bey were" to take as mucl;t HIide in their ;;tbility to write poetty as in their skill with t.l;l.ealms of theit trade. Fatally wounded in oohine, ranking warrior,s would use their last moments of life to c-ompose poemasometimes expressing their sorrow at leaving life before reaching the;it goals, other ,times pillorying their enemies with sharp poetic barbs. Eventually it became the custom for soldiers ab ur tt nt sui idal

Behind the Masks of Kabuki. and Noh
l'h Japanese rendcncv to kata.-ize everything in. theb: lives was l'plto~d py the Iilithuki (kah~b.u.u-lme) an(;i'noh (nO"o) drama Mrtilstit. ultim-ate in method a:cting. Kiabuki ~s &P--iG have: orlg:i;natw in the t.O I re 1600" as. bawdy, dances ~rformed DY $hin:W shtitte "maidern'l utrached to the lzutfio ShlineiD ,x;voto. Mene}rentuaily replaced all Wl men in kabuki performances after the female "d~ce-r$ be(;am~ as 11 ular for their !iern.u ,set:Vlees as their entertainment and attraeteM the pleasure of theauthonties for eng~irrg in. urtre:gulated wo-stitution. Male actors soen began tur'ping; kabuki into a fine !;\t'1T that became 1111 r' and more formalized and st:ylizeJ, Over the decades master kabuki arurs gradually transformed tne:c-raftm:to the lI).'eticulouslv httaAz:ed~stl I i th t is known today. n > the form and order of mm;eroents Qf 1)__abuki had been estabI hed y a master,' the style he had created became ~anG(i£ied. Bvery hlu ern nt, down to the bUnking of the eyes, was mi:n:utelypreseribecl fbJ,dlnf bl dl elples. Virtually no personal inrerpretatiqn was allowed. The \ II III 'ug' fur each performer was to follow the kata absolutely, Si,IcQe:ss IIdn nly on the artistic interpretation of the plot but also on !11)W Vr d~ly th play r r created the set form. • 1 munll h 1)'1, r' t d by th great st master became the urnl~tll k hllk t udard nnd wa P ~ d (0 by him to his chief disciple. 1 tl!' I W I I l·J 11 I 1 linn. h· 0\1 r II e'f w th t Ilk t ,rkl b I~ I 1l1p "L I'lL 11'not mot l {1! hnn rhe tory
~ 11' II

of

~'Zc

battles to write "d ath po IDS" - a c4stom follow xl by lilt' y! 1I111j,1 kaml· (kah-rn -kah-zav) pilot of WI rid Wllr J] In Ih,' II.) 10

Id.

30

Behind the) apanese Bew

The K1l:ta-i:zation pf]ap<'!.'ll

31

Nah, J~an!s other great drama form, began ta the fpurteenth 'Centu,I¥ as part of religi@us fes:tivals and was to bec@me even more sty1ize'd and ka:ta-b:ountl than k~haki.It dl!velopeM into a fbrin so esoteric tnat,€)nly a -lirrlited number of dedicated afficionad~ are atrracred to it, ~he essence of neh is fo,r,th:e actor to merge !tij; whole persotlality Inte the wooden f: ce :tnask)le wears, to physi:dilly and spiritually put hit;nself imo the mask; allowing himself to be taken over by t'he char,acteJ; r:eJ:1f~entea by the n:r~1c. This total sublimation of character and personality into all ullclt:mg~ ing wooden tnask,and ma~g an aft Qutof it, with th.e mask becoming
both the medium and the message, wasprecisely the goal ofall kara, aI,1-a. it was clriira£.Ceristic df Japanese culture in general. Kabuki Le~ajns one of the most repte&e:nt;ative: fGrms of 'traditional JapaneSe theater andorre of the more iillpressive examples of the ultimate kata.iz-ation of at} art. Perfonnanc~s at Tokyo's famed Kabukt-Za theater, {he National Theater; a'na D"the"t lecations> continue to -attraot large audiences1 .

cute. awareness of th-ebea'utv in nature and later' develof)ed art's and ceremonies to ineotporate the same' quality, of beauty into their daily

Anycme who has difficulty un<iel'stanclingthe meaning 'and point of kara in tmditiQnaLJa12anese culture has 0hly to attend a oontempotary presentation of kabuki or noh, More severeJore.ign critics (5f the art~ say they are virtually deyoid of content and 'are little. rome than ,a sliell,
Even more fuJ,P9rran~ fueY:'say, is that Japanese who attend kab~i and troh plays are not aware that most €If what tb<!y see ami hear is fotm without subsrance. ''What they are wat£.lllng is .net only meaningless. attenilingkabuki has become a kata within itself," said one critic, Of course" this critieism presumes that'ther(t is no merit at 'all 'in art forms that are kat'a'~izedto thiS extreme. However, both kabuki and neh are excellent examples of the power of kaia in producing Illusions, giving reality to the Ultreal-.beth of which are vital ingredients- in Japanese culture,

The'&e airs, and eete~ies Were. 500 ,Institutionalized intg kata wi"th their: own aesthetic vocabuhiry;! makin~ it possible for even the least eclucate~ peeson to study ana unde_r~tand aestheties and make use of the knowledgt!:j It: seems tha~ Japan is the only ceunrry in the woill:l inwhith there was a concerted effort on almost every level of society to make the study and appreciation of beauty a basj.c part of the life-style of the entire Roputation. The roots 'Of the special affinity of the Japanese for aesthetics may It ve der~ve,d from "heir 'own native Shintoism, essentially a :wo;rship nature tliat lncorporared recagnifion of nature itSelf as the ulrariate ouree of beauty. An@ilier part' of the Japane~e impulse to tl.rtivetsah~, a~stheU!;.i:J Qb; viously had its origins tn Buddhism, as is evidetIeed in the arts, ,crafts, und life-sty~es tb.a~ .de:veldp.ed in Qeher .'6ud4hist cQ1.mtties 01 A.!jip.. Blit It , other national grenp !':ooIdl;' as far as the [apanese. It would not be top much of an exaggeration to say that frOI,ll A.D. 700 on, aestheticism in Japan took QQ, the appearance and t<;lIte a state-teOf UHlon. Mundane crafts were d~~eloped into fine arts. The'detiberate purlilt of aestheric enjoyment became a major theme. _in the' lives of- the 1l1C1re affluent. The practice of tine or more aescl1¢tk skills. became the norm and wasexpected of virtually all Japanese; regardless of theit economic status. [npanese aesthetfcpnrsuits were designed, to. pleasure all of the senses

lives.

at;

~d

the Beauty Cult
One of the secrets of Japan's commercial prowess is on a esth tics. V ry arly in h ir hi tory th jnp
i. Ii
Il

11" well as the spirit. They included such f0J;';ID.alize' practices as poetry wII!lng, moon viewing, cherryblossom vieWing, incense patties, sigh~se'e~ I ,listening to the, songs of insects, flower arranging, music, folk dane111 • and performing the tea ceremony. By eh beginning of Japan's modem: industrial era in ilie 18708 the II pnuese had been immersed in an aesthetically oriented culrnrefor w€:ll IlVI'1 one housand years. The exercise-of a highlY,fenned 'aesthetic sense w. . ond natut to them and was reflected in all their endeavors, from rh W Il.vlng f bask t 0 the production of wrapping paper and soup

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(pre:ign t'(atl~);s "tho Ptigap-.£lodclng'

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E@Jap.a:n'1l1il0i1aftBr tlieeQuntcy was in the 1850&were-mere Interested in cheap hoa_r th~ abi,Hrvofthe J~l13rr&$eto 'COpy Wre@ p:r~uCl<$·than~hey ,we.fe

to

the ~est

iii-their

aesthetit ;sense 'G:fsIcUis,inprOdueing"b:eatiiJ:fUl

handiti.3ft'!l.

possih1e,. , . ,t\§soen' as Ja:pall~ rl\l;~keES;_;C:OgJa Wr~tcflnt'iiQr or thHr prQtlu~l'io.l) tr.on\,tbti¢fgn imp-otters; first llY o.penin:g their own iri1_Pdrt dffioes-abrofl'd and then by:-establfshing t{l<~1r own_,sales-netwprkst-'t!:u:~¥~gantP upg!:!\4"e the 'quaiity of their Pl~u"t:'f in k:eelling. With tbeir ®wJ)l; uatlitloos, Wrthin fen fears~ the J,aFan@se were renowned w.otldwide for .the-su'~!ior quality- ,Of their -eworts.. It was" to '~·ni').o,th~r teo" lear$' b~Qre We;iiitem b!:lsihes.s,_~_Qple., begant{) sh0W' anin:teres.t.'fn' wh~ anahow.' Japa,ri'es-e- were produeirrg-such high-quahUi merohand1~e. ' 'qe1i~ve: Ja~s :a¢;~tlietiG q:me~~w.sQ~ ;sqtbui~h~"Qqu:.ee}, ~abi (wah-he&)" anH sl!ibi (,;;abAJee) should, be,' inCQ:tpoTuted cultures. gabf refe;ts to akind of beauty SOzyJ.€S- 'rith the n;l;tlJraJ agoo.g 9f a'JI t,hi:ngs; wahi, , t\l: a.o empjj'Q-nalappredation' that -reflects, 'theessente, iii:~ elbding the ecpheme'ral quality, of liki and shibui denotes oeHu,ty that ~.e~u1_ts ..w:h'enan obje,ct~ ,11:flJ;ur;;.tlor-raan-made, ~lem:ly l'etre.$s. Lts ~s$!p!ee; thfO'Ugh pinec1tiiE(n 6tfarni, naturalness, 'Simpli:dty1,.a:hd subdued tone.

FolloWing the end at Wmld. Wal1 II: in. -1945~ the nij~be_t of wre'ig:n into JaJiiaJlt9 o;rdet che%plv ma;-deW~tem..Jiity~e pmilu6tll bee_arne, a··ftoad .. Far Hie neoxtdecade the 'qwllity of what the Japanese prodll1i:ed for export. w~~ al:inas:t totiily cOntrolled ~y: forej:gJ;1 buyers wliose .primary aim. W,as to makil -as ml;l..Chpfgfrt· aspgssfule as 'eJ. uidtdy as
bUY~$,po~ng

BCWirig (;(;irrfl~dv fer dlfferentbc"t.:otsjons ii? fin: 'rome ~fI1IllIiea_t.edand. meaningful tli:an thec:asuru viSitor migH.t suspect; As int!--veiYtbtdg_ Japane~., th~re Is a kat!:!-.,ft,r~wiIJg, withQnlY'€ln~ right way f!;i.lp each ClGO ca'sloffi One musu kROW when tcrhQWais w~ll a~;what iri,t1.dof bow js eerreel for ;'1' v~ety. of sjhlar:i,O;ftS.The WTong.•lur'id 0f bew ban J):e 'a -ve'ry serious t:trfu;ietion wifh 'dj;t~ ;OOnS~!l~llc~S. In earlier tilJ').es it CQ_uld be

"

:the

.t

~lw:t

moan

fatal. Th!; ricl-uidnd <;:If bew ts dh~rm.ined hy such ching.;; as the relatbJe nges .of tBe' parl:icipantS, thei( p,ers:o.nal antUpj prtofG;S~jq_na1 reJatiQnsnig, theu:p~st :e;%J?erienG~" thetr pirrposedn meetIng, and .So on. Ola~ J apangs'e, partl\:u1ar1y tb:Q~e :wl1.Q are;_" ~9rried about th~ erqsion of the J"ll'{(Ianes'eWay,al'e e:'lpe(daUy conBer.ned !;h~u Jap.an's YOQ.nger ,Yl.'n,er,atiensar~P_Qt being taught hQw or why to bow by their p:aredts. As Ii restilt,~QUI,n,_yJ apanc;:se aum-p:antefii espee;i@Hy th!i;lse in the :ret~L and:'s_etvice indu.;;tr'ies, now includebowfng i:ntheir t:t;llin:ing 'progta1'l1S:t'Some rn the pas,t hav,e gpIii~ $P 1'ar a,$'to uS,e a special 'hewillg' d€Vle:e to heIp new l'mployees,:get the propera~te' a6~n,p"at. Part o'fi !i}1e.'WOrt]" of J.ap<lne~etradit1cina:lists is recogfiitibh that t,ltose whQ are not fulTy irid:CJ~ttmate_d in BQwing at a very y:oungage ha~{e 111ready lost a vit~aspect of th~i{ Japanese"t'less ana wffi ,fiQ.t' re_gain it. w.ttha' 'few: QJlY9 or of training in tryekaca of bowiri~, These t' I.'lsetvative.:s ondeJ:stanti that the. P_0W,is, par'!:' ef' the lieha:Vb-ttai condltl rung that makes the japanese- Japanese and hi:l-lJ;iS l1bJd the tral'hd\maI cultute1:Q'ge~heiji,

wee:~

Despite

the tenClertcy of yotJ1:l.g Jallwese paretl;t.$ to spe_mci leJi~t:im~

The Art of Bowing
TJ1e bIDw,is Que Qf ~'heF1\~~t tsro:Isp,.i~VOll$ ~ymbols of Ja;f!~n~ v:erricllUy -o.rienteds.JlpedEtt'~inferiQt societY, 0-( Japanese etiquetl~\ and 0f the imporfanee- of social kata in, genel;ru. lts kaditlon~ impottance went well be.yond s,b:nple ci!l:Rf0,rmity fond gQ~'\1 manners;. It wa,;sa :sigl1mcant part of both the physical and psychalogica:f 'eondifioning of the Japanese in their whole culture, Until. the 1950svirtually all Japanese got theirflrat rrnlnlngll1 bowing while they were still infants, strapped co their rnorhcrs' '-'u'ltN, flv Or)' tim ~ rh 'Ir moth _'n bowed the hnhic8 bow If w tll i I Ill'llI,
I

Il'ulningcheir chtldren in the age-olG custom ofoo-wing, it remaln:s avitaI Jrl "tor in the adult wortd 'QfJ<:lP~n.,'al'l,o ~tlst ,;>f.Jal2'an1S maim q.wupames f1tl' determined to keep it that way. Many '€;Gmp'am~s, 'ha.ve ltat~AzeQ Illlining programs specially de&igJled te wipe out the modernised mer" mmll, tes of new youngemploye~s a'nd Te:make the;m in th.ett'-9:di.tio-nw. Til' r molding and charactetf-buili1ktg' tr~iag programs of many lurM't'[npanese companies ate v'ery inten;se. ,\=Joth"e;,of them -ate de;gta~mg II! Ih poh:H that the previously pampered yaurig'r'ecruits, are stldcke(1, r In'~~ ltololng schools require new employees to-do such things as wash llLII tullt'c bowl~ find lean up, after sick drunks. 'ill' f'il'l11!\ry pilrrmSL' of clwgccampany and special schools is not to lrud I llill HI sUJ r~ , bile t.o condlt I 11 t he recrui til tnrh tradldonal ~lJdul f'lllIr'ltl" nt II dB~lv I~1I~1w·d I th hu"ln Ii~ world, and to hwJll hi th IU d 11 t nIIHH~ til h1Y It y nd drvllrlllil til 111 lOlHlliIlly, Sud)
I

1II111d.

\

'tFainiIl'g~:whiqh is

u!.ually vepr li!xpensive, al~9, makes it petfe~dy l;;te1;l!r'to the new elI),('ilo¥e::~ that th~'cQmpany is..equfiliy devoted re futmt.
This gene,riilly arduous, mutually shared tr.aming oreafes a 'special

Femaleeinployee's are USllaIlye;xdu.ded <Fromthe male bastion .ef man. Llg'emei:l:t in jaP1:!ne.se CO.'Oi_pantes, and are genenl;Uy Q9Ilr~:qul-ted to undergo "bCl.ot...camp" tl'ait:l..ing! The:ir o;aining usuallY- ends wt'th h0.W tiJl : RIPe€h.; liow ~b b_0\\l~ .and how to .set've tea, NElt'sllrp:ri.siugly, Japanese women bow more: Qft~n. than J~an~se men,
it, how to

boqsd ~mO.llg r;h.e rl;!l;ruitS' liJindlr~~wee1;l ,th,em andth~ company ~aJta,gei:$ who Qften~atti€ipate' in the pro,gi;ams as irtstrucfon, -rge'CS'lose ti.es t'hey form become a significant f\l:ctlilf in. the pet1S@nal rela!ionshl19s0f each

stand be:ftire sup etiorS , how 1;9 fl$PQud with the proper

speaKeJis. ·at their wedc1ingSc ..

pe;.w t!1'OP Cif (ecruits,Qvertheif dUfty~fOle"tt)~fQtt:Y-yelll working lives. In addition to acting as mentors to theft younger coIlea,glicl:,' japanese !ll.al-1:<!,g'er.s: J;Qutihely 'a(r,ange mil:mages tql' thetn and serV;e a§ key al~p

Ipost expensive aspects of business in [apan, not omY'in terms' ofthe ~ncial cost but in emotiorm1and ~e it:u7jitS!ttnent as welL i\rJ.o~het mutual erdeal is playIng golfwhen you have to travel ~eve_ral homE eacn way to .get to aeourseand it is rainim;g or fFeeziqg cold dmif\g the 'entire QutiDg.) . :Nhrriy )apanesecbmpany mana$ers look u'Pon college graduates with liber;li arts degrees as jguer-antl um~Uibl~~a,&dy,trtllWfY' \fOl"tlil8$:s un.pl they are whipped. into" shape at the Gl§mpanyb6.Qt caInp . .In sonM~ companies this "dttty work" training lasts for several months, and ~nly th~e whe.~urviv~ thec'Qu;rse. are ac:coept:e,O 1n1l0 the: CPID]?faDteS as Fegplat sW'biemhets; . &Gept·fQr new re:eruit~ schooled in technical skills,;. rn;ma_g_ers dQ Mt l<;>okf.Qt the ,moat intelligent, moSt am-bi~iQus!or the most ene:rge:tic employe€ candidates. In fact y0ung I?eople' who fit these categories may; not ~t int~ the_ typi~lcornpaRY syStem in japan, Man,y manage_roS look.f1rst: for y,flUng pe0ple who do llot have stronglY' heldo~iruon.5 or ambitions· and can be molded into what, the managersregatd as companv.soldiees -'pe"(;!ple who will adhere. strric~ly! to .ti.he tnili~ary;;.like hi_e~ar~v' of the, Japanese company., obe;yrules,-wtth@ut question, and devote their lives to worlcipg_ diligently and rising slowly in the ranks. (Maior Japanese cornpanie$generaUy depend upon professors with whom they have strong ties to select the graduating seniors with engin-

(Fot fareigp.ers one" or the Jl'!panpse. equiv:_alent§ of mutually endured ttia15 @f .stt'l:!ngrh",st~rn:ma, dedt€atiElU, ~_nd d'etermio:ation ._ij-r~ the long notu$ ufdtinking, ande:arousittg in m:adand caBat-e.ts :iltet working hours tha,t is r~9uued to ·{t;trgedose benos willi J a~ane~_e P.uslnl\!ssmen. ,B-uil~g atl_d~ustairt:irig close. relationships in· t,h_is, man'ne:r rewe's!$Rt:.sone: oJ tl'll!

The Art of J\.tnbiguity
Iu perfection

k~tad,t¢d formula that the Japanese! Have ttaditiQo:aUy l~plis:hed is the: "art. of ambiguity," which). was developed to aV9i'<1 I Ul1lmitfi.l~n:ts, 'disagr:eement's, and respnnstbilit~, ,and t.P he1p ~aint~ a j'II ride of hannony. It '34'\9 i,s U's,e:ato keep ,outsiders, eomp~tiitQI:s,.an.iilen['!HIes uncel'tam;md, rherefiDre; at iii t:~:},rl'sigerlJl'iledi~advantage .. Jilpan's'eurtur~ lJnpenadve:. to mainrain.li'atfnbtry, and pl'Qm;Ote' group r onsensus h¥ the USjj1 of atbhigJ.lous language had a fundanienta1 eife'6t 0,1,1 III ' nature ~cl use of theJapafieNe iangu;;rge ·itSelf. 'The ~emands of nonL'lmf:ontatinna] W'a not only influ~nGed the way the .language" WflS. sed~ u Lun it alsoconl!ributeo ti:l!the flppe,a(ance of n~w: words and. wottl Another

I

~uhordinates. B\1.ttheyautQmatio:aHy gtil. ihth an 'Ja1hbigig)JS. tnode ~hen unfronted by anyone else. The [vason for this., accordlng' eo Jirtt .I(;1_-mr~ ~I 1111, I professor emeritus of St. Baur-s lJnivef..siW in T ~~ and a noted: rultuml historian, is that the.)ap.anesesuff'er from;a phobia 'about b'em,g I~nlur.d In any manner, physical pr Q.th-etWi-se fJ apan F ottndatiott Newslet~

ttllnj!s. 'lh' Japanese can w'd 'd.Q, in fa:!>t" communicate defLrLy, candldly, ·arW v n bluntly to members of d:iei;f own .fa~ilie§~ dose nienils, ana

"I,VnI.17)No.,.3),

l'Ioln.'l' to wliur t'umplmy,)

eering and other technical degrees that they hire each yr. Inmost instances these profess rs I1tertlUy d. cidc 011 lb Ir own whk h . HId Itt' Is !

Pru~ ssor Kamishima says that the Japanese use .ambiguity as' a.securIfv dt'vlcc to prevent themselves from being caught ip_' a minority posII hill, lie says they dlicad isolation from the mainstream so much that tllf'Y wrr ln fromcxpresslng themselves clearly or taking astand until a 111 ,judi), t' Illnn gradually em ·rges. They are evasive, Professor ~ 1111"11 Im I ldd h aU8C I h·v I k con fld 'nee it, rhemsc lves, and feel 1.iIIt d1t'~krn tlO rn (~I1Y·i 11' 11 mlIY) II III yc~ or rh w rid" arc {)]'I I II l 11U ur I ","TI IV Il1l' ollll,,""·d wh h th ' 11'1I I b l t bey IlUllil con· (tiwlr thIn In,.), II h ~tW~
j

36

Behind the Japanl$e Bow

,'Phis; is no d0~t< one of tlJe: ractorsthat' was responsibie for the de",el~ opmerrt 'of the flllnOUS t4cfemae (ta~'tay~m_y) and honOB (~0an;~na:}l) €onro.epts' in Japanese behavior; Tatemae refers tQ' a tl:_\Jtit Qr£aca3e (pub, lie $tatem~n:t$) th~t p.eople ;put up to obSCllTe their real meaning -an~ rnten:tlo0-8 (htmne),. It is also the reason, why the Jap'an~se a~ 0)j~;es&ed With seeking more and ~pre infermption and are encUessly asking for advice fr£)tll e){perM and autlhop:ty figures. ' Because of this character, J!lpanese tend to be fQllowets rather; than {MdeES, gping~hicheverway the ,-lea:tting of their "gr:oupdireets tnemandllerejn lies oae of the da~ers Inher~l~Ht )'Jilp,ab''s kata~ized culture, in Like sheep,ilie [apanese are; ~,bject 1:0 Q_eiftgmislt!cl; eit)jet by tniSittforro.!l;tion~_efby woIf,m: sheep's, dlotWn~. They 'me also prone to stampede a in oIJ,edtrecuen or another as the, result: of a single incHlent. 'Their proclivityfor jumping into fads,~ a part Q£ toi:s Qhatacter, The m:ostftightehing Il\l~ife-statioa of this herdlike behavior is.In the a,c.rioflsof Jal"an's mass media) which r:putinely ta,ilt;1J::the4J: approach to the news to confhrm to precOJlceLv:ed. notiorts cif whar is "Jap'anese~j!or what is e($t for. Japan. _G:enei,aIIv Sp€aking, individual news rp;edia ilia:!;. find themselves out' of step with the'majprity will quIckly fall in line if dYer cerne under '§ ll$tainedl=riti1l.ism> Ability ill using language ambiguously while stilt getting Y9q.r point across remains one of the most irnpi;Jrta:m social, b\lsmess, politIcal skills in Japan. Much 01 the famed MTii get' Cpah-rah g~y-e), or "art ofthe stenrach,' that the Japanese use in rheir personal as- well a's business relationships fits within the kata of ambiguity. Hara gei is a highly honed emotional armintl1itive ability that ofte~ cannot be :bpressecl in words, It functions more QIi less like cult)lraltelepa~hy, and t'susuaIly ittqomji)reheruible to those who -are Ret similarly skilled. ' "CultuvaI h01llogeneit;y makes it possip-le for the J ap;aneslt to Cel1lrriunicate with eacn other wirhonr expl1.e-ssifig their thoughts dearly or C)('H'n'plerely,'1 notes_Amenican businessinah~writer Davis Barrager. "T~eir eoruments and conversations are also r.egularly punctuated by blank sp¥-esriliax leillve the:ul:):i»ittated listener han:gmg but convey volumes of ,unspoken tnoughts to those who are on the Japanese wavelength," he

Japanese words 'eon\r~ supermeanings that tnask reality. YO)1 Ii1l:1stb::t~Q~uQi£atiQ_n with the [apanese run its course until sothethinge(mc'r~t~ em:et~~~ and tlten<f~a1 with it, Americans, like mY;seI£ witl\ OUI fr-ontter tradtt1onSof dealing umrmirily wit:h new situalious. in-stincJ:i;.~e1y,· want tb s;hift CIui2k1y Ihrough the ehaff go st~ht to the> wheat Usualls that does not W rk in Japan, even.when the Jap'allese w~nt'St)lp_ething as soon asPQss~ lblc. GeneialIr ybu must let the Chinf"Shift 'ati.t~ ewn pa!';e_)' , . ,. WhCj;fi "he Japanese are operating in their own cultural wdrld, lutlongcliernselves, they are; eften nClt flware of their use of ambiguity md 'time gaps. Most such behavior is-automatic. Ambiguity is so natural IIIlU accepted that \:heygene.rally don't conceptualize 'it! and often I unnor oompteh.end why foreigners ha;ve such diffioulty unde:l's-tandin-g

n ial

Bauagtitc cQnanues, "Many'\'.remmou

ana

1n £Q_rma1si~uatioE\S,hC>lwe:v.er, the Japanese are generally, vep{ much: nware of the role Elf gaps in -speeah!md: ambigujty in, a~Lof-th.ei:r-1\.ui;\n~, lid they are v?rib.usly skilled in their use, The de~il!letate: use of iliis III mnerofcorfitnu:aio'a.tiott has'trapitienally p~yed a key role in. V'ir;tually til f Japan's international relatiofis, and i.t remains an import~t f"a:ct~r
hId

Ih'm.

ana

adds.
This sty.le of oonununi¢ation has been recognized and categorized for centuries. It involves the use of rna (mah), "pregnant pauses," or "leaving space" that the listener is expected t fill in wttl hi r h r wn inrerpretaticn of what he 'pak r rn 'an . MI,qllndl'r~rnnd!n n' u nHUr 1 urcom wh n sorncm , i unsklll d r Ihl kind Illllllnl ttl J. ()1I11L{.

course, most Westetners ~ho "have eonraet wid< the J-apanese~w I I it killed in the use of alnbiguitY or ,gaps in cammurucat.i'6n, d:o"Uotil',l,c', "I 1t as normal, and ate co,nfused and upset RY it. This means that, (I y I ally as well as emQl\ibnally, lapane-se and tl:cm-l~anese ase indeed ').1 om. different wayelengtl:\s. ' "1h re are other factors at play that make, ambtguQus behavior \-l¥ the lnpun se appear irrational and often devious to the; outsid'e_.r h~ thme w I no intention of being or appearing i1l0gifal er deceitful, This again is l'tlLl nf the process of gtouJ:Hhink -ahd'deoision by tons~nsu~~ During the 111\1 I t g don, period of any project or' pt'ogrmn) no one m the ~o,?-p ~I\ow.s xactly where evervene is in the process. They !;.;lnnot be P!e.clS~ It III ir c rnments or predict the outcome. , WIt'Jl judged by Western standards, the uncertainty and inclecisive~ II II n th In an e wb n they are in the midst,of establishing a cQnse~, 'I ld I. sub r ntlal1y to their reputation far ambiguity and makes- their Iwl In v n m rc U p r. Fur her, whi] Japan se find the use I I rrnh Illihy h II ul In mill tIt' nlol urea' barmony and In keeping Ii I '. ut I l' LI I 11011' -h rip nc ih y p y i hi h. If i lIy d~mlnJ_ll I ~ Il[ Ii, I n who hnv 1 0m' pmly
j

y..

In

n

1

III

[,

I

lilt

n h 1I~1l L

Ull W

11

'39

Behind the. ~aparteseJ~pw

Importance of the Apology
]apari's feudal society was so hedged in b,y rigorously enfpr~a rules of etiquette th9t it was v11'tually impassibll!! fer a person to get through lilV day, MtrrGut breakiu:g at least one rule or tubbing someene the~r'Qng way. The ritualised and sanetmed maW}etcS al~o made the ]afianese 'extremelysensitive to. any dev:fation k-f'lm tiUs code (lIf conduct" and ready to take offense at the vaguest hint ofa slight or insult.

pt.'Tfomring the prepet kinds. of bows and in selecting and presenting .onsolation gifts' or money. The'_kata of the ap(:libgy a~~ thet:~fore also crlrical to the complex c~ndlttaning that goeS int-o- themelding of a Japanese. Despite

!!tlmiderble mQ1:al wemht m Japan. 'Ilie guilty indiVidual WhoaRQlog~~ sincelieiy is o~en rorgive1,l ~ot
their overuse, apologie~ tarry

.

.

Just opening a eonversatien with smneon€_ other than a member of the Rousehord. O't a friend became a sensitive matter because it implied the possibility of creating some kind of obligation or invading the ether person's erivaty. Ina yin~yll.ng k:ind of move to balance the demands of dYe etique.ne system - as well as the often inhumanly harsh punishments meted Gut
to the more '5enQuS dffenders;- the ~ata ;qf the apology, were institutionalized ana made a signiHcant part of daily life, It' became eustom~ry for people' to. ~PQlogi;ze tn aavafice-hefor:e a

comment 9! actioa-e-just in case they m~~ht ihaovertently upset 1l0UU1::one: or make a mistake. So common was the practice of the. apology tHat one of the wOrds.-used for "thank yOU" also was used to mean "excuse '( ~ f1 me " 0r. uI' m sorry. " 'T'L! war d - sU1illmasen sue-me-rna Ii) rrns -sin -liter~~ means "it never ends." In other words, !~trtyimpGsition on you- never

ends."
apologies were natl}l'ally:.'fOtlJ;laiized with with. d,lfferent 'Styles of apologies fbrd1fferefi't classes people, Y.akuza (yah,kuu-zah), the professional gangsters ttaditionallyapol~gized fer serioustr.ansgJ;~s.sions against

r latively serious transwessi()lls. By tile same tOKen, retusmg to apolo~12e or withh~l~g an apolGlgY can be :vel'y serious. In legal matters, tefuslng l express regret invariably results in heavier punishment. In personal ltuations, it typically results in ads of rev~nge. . One {)t my foreign friat:t.cdsrecounted a common experieaee, this nne nvolving his motlrer. Out dtiving one clay, she made a wrong tutu and was stopped by the police. When it tutned out that she had inadvertently let Heir lieeu.se expire, tae case became serious, Her husband, his emllloyer, and the Ametkan emb'a:ssy becam~'~nv;olved. Things looked gTi.m urttll-a pplice officer eame up with a compromise rh'at let¢vety~~e',aa1J'e Iuce. He told' my' friend's mother that all would be fOIgl-Ven if she would w tte out an. apology and promiSe never to drive in Japan again. The pollee officer then wisely added that it might come to l?RSS ~t she w suld want to start driving again, but that no one could ~I'eillct the, III ure. He was giving her" the. opportunity to renew her license and nrry on.

.More serious

:their own kam, and groups df

of Japan, have
thl::ir

spots,

dther. pewerfulllgure,s by cutting off-p-ar-t of a finger c-usually the first joint e£"the little finger on the left hand, If a second apology is required. the tip of the little finger on the tight hand is cut off. It is still common: in present-day Japan ro See yakusa, with pieces of little fingers missing, mingling with other guests. in certain international hotels and night
.

bosses

or

Big Brother and Groupi&m
hip n' social ethic' during the feudal '<lgewas based on principles de~ved 111 onfucianism. All household and group members wers eoUe(;'..[lvely 'f pOl:l5ible for each other's actions. All could be, ahd frequently were, puntshed for transgressions of one member, " Thl~draconian system, designed to force absolute ohedieuce to laws

of Japan ih the t870sand 18805, the atlu3iogy became SQimpQftant in -the conduct of business that many comparuea employed professionals who specialized in apologizing in person as wen as in writing le tters of apology. Still today company managers who are sp dolly kill d 111 are regularly assign d chi a k wh 1"1 d no 't I nr .'.. I It h d v rb 1 sktlls, rhcse expe t pol ~Iz fN HIMI II 1111' I

FolloWin;g the industrialiiation

me
or

IImI
111"1\

kutn·h: d customs, contributed i:mmeasureably to family consciousnnd loy Icy to h group, t passivity, and to robotic behavior. The
I ~ It

rowd III nn

In mad
1 mnv

unlfled

crt ns n
(ill

s ary, r suling
11'111

in th
my

I

II' 1 'I

I

dnY ,I
IUd

'!lUI

whD

rll

• It j.ffllUI pi It 1ft'1 ·1 h hlllll\ 1IIIIh J

b It 1111

R

rn 0 In Itt

Ibl' til l Willi

40

&hi:nd theJa_panese Bow

The' '&ata-1zation o(Japan
having 'an H.,ssi;<;taptstand to the side of' the vi@tim ana $'ever with a swor(l im1ncidiately after thet>fOt;na€-n cur. was made,

41

worse than c:leath hfltause other groups would outsider in. The .group thus aennrui and GcQnlirolled the mdl,vIdual. ill many Way§ any indiv.idual not a member of a reo@gnizeg greup, simply drd 'figt exist. Groupism is stiU a very smni£k,an,t fa~et of Ja{1p'tlese Ute. It prevails- in ev:e:v. ~rofessioq. in, QusiQe$S, and in polttiQS. In most casesjgettmg acqua~fI:"ted and cleahrtg with the Japanese professiQllally mean~ :getting .acquatntedand dealing with them not, only as tndividuals but also-as 'grqups, With th,e group taking precf<o-eoce over the- individual.
gener<111yFegQtdedas
?ot take-,an niJ~lt:

hi$ heJld

just: t!lne persen, almost always fails. The _gnmp~ now as in the past, 1?.royidlils,&,?Gutity and economic survival There is relj;':n;ilesspressure- for people tQ join groups and st'ay in ~h@U1. of the ways a g-rbul? binids its membere together ~ th:e~harmg; of per-sonf!,l, intimate infol'InaMQn.Anyo1l\:'!;who rlisTegmtils this rule is suspect, anq the more c~aspicudus viotatels are likely to be Qstta-eized.
WO.dLOtrough

In-bUSihe,ss rlealings'in particular it is vital t9 mee}:several in the same company and tlurtp:l!'€ ,telati9nshlps wiilithem.

indi.... iduals
Trying

to

one

In keeping with their highly K:ata~i'ied 1i£-e.!st¥t~ the samurai made h rakiri ±fits an equally t{)~lizea "ar~» that was as care-fully and minIItely prognimmedas a stage prod\JcWB.. Evew a.SPt!ctof the suicide was J ·tailed, frQm the white paper used to wrap around the part of the sword blade held by the bands to tke laiit poems' the victims wrote befare df-iOlUlolation. Aclminisua.tlve. Gastles such a~ the. Sba:rittg "white h 'ron" hill castle of l{imeji h~d ~peda1 inner "COUr1's"'for the. ritual of utctde=- appropriately landed HllrakiriMaru (hah-rah-kee-ree mahh .. ts." ruu ) ,0:1' i,,stoI;Ilac ,~c~tnPg,cours. . A.ll offiGiai .st1kides. required :witrres:;;e~.Th~ .l-j:igher the rank of the ill' dlvidual, the la;ger the number of p.eopk invited tQ attend the ritual In 1868 LofdRed'e~\l.ide,a British diplomat, and six other fbteIgtl,ers, were

lit Bizen wb-o haa
I I

hiS book, TalesvfOUl. ]t;Pan. tntt £lrs.! cl.esGtipt1b.nbya foreig,p.er €If this -markable way ,gf life and death, Th.1!fot~tgn witnesse:s were both almcked and fasdnateciL-by tl1e~&Cefle. ,

nvlted to 'att0rid the .s.uidde of a 32~ye~:IJ;-BICl samurai from 'the province mdeI'ed JaFanese soldiers to nre on the '{0feign ~etdeIII 0[ in Byogo (K@be). Lord Redesdale later recounted the e~perierice

The Way of Suicide
To Westerners' grobaply, the most h;izacre aUM SbbCkin.g facet of feudal Jap-an's kataculture Was the practice of ritual suicide, called§e~puku (sep~puu-k:uu)-or harakiri (hah-rah,..keectee) ill, colloquial terms. Hat_akiti was developed by theS"!lm,UIai class 'as .a wUo/ ffur memb.ers to dispatch themse.hreSc

",nen they faced eapruse by an enem.y" when tb,ey ran
and were otldered to

afoul of their own lord cr theshoguqate

kill them-

alITing the long Teksgawa era (1603:... I 8) that repeated ediC1iS'i by the various dan l:oresand shoguns, pi ()hibiting the prsetlce wereign?l'e&. While uncommon, today, thetr:aIIkm of ritual suielde remains a discernible element in Japane,s,e s0dety, ttl! ci ude if not in practice. . The custom of Harakiri, perhaps m.ore than anythigg erne, 1)ta'rk1iY tV lethe depth and intensity of J apan~s tradIfr(mat codified culture; \l.nd hl·lllS explain the reason why it 'WEtS able '1'9 mold the Japanese into 'Such
Harakiri was so enirenehed
I

,selves, or w.Ven theyl became involved ins6tne kind of personal conflict fbr wh,iGh there was Ito other aceeptable 'alternative. ' The terms sel1Ptt/<,u an:P- hllr~kirj li:te,raUy 'mean "cuttihgth,e stomach." This mede of suicide was' chOs"en by the samurai because it required €l:N:raoroinal1Y will; courage, and streqgth to ~c90~pl:ish. A short sword was inserted tnw the stomi;lcl"t on the left, side. Using both hands the $wor? WM drawn to the: right side of the stomach, then pulled upward,
fonmng an angle or L-shaped cut. Such a deep cut through the stomach was lntens -ty p In[lIl, but Ir w usually several minutes to hours b for rh victim rl tid. A~ t lilt" P cd, [t b> 'In C mmon ro prnvide for qulcke Ild "11" tmln ul dill 11 hy
j

I xtinctive society.

The Kata-ized Mind

42

Behind the Japa:nc:s~ Bow

• ~~e philosophY,o{t'he shika~a system was an integral parqQEJa~anesethmbg,e~ressea not only m the use of their langu;.Jge ut als& in many of then; dee~ly rooted habiQ andceeroms. It was the core of what ma~e_the J.apanese Japanese. Virtually 'all of their attitudes and. teaptJo~, whiG,}1 f?Te~erS tended to find either dehghtf!ll(')rdeplQtabIe emllttateo from this all-encotnp_flssinglmta conditioning. Japanese could ll0t Help but think in terms' Qfshllcata.lt was this e00dirioning that was to make them f(;}M1tdabJe, enemies in war and even more formi'd:ablillc.ompetittlrs in commerce in the decades ahead. ·
j

3

Kata in Japan

Today
Continuing the Kata Culture
At the end, oTJapan's feud~Lperiod in 186~ the custom of katra-iz'i.ngall ktlh; and behaviDr penfieated virtual1¥ ev.ery aspect of Japanese life. 'The wily toprepare and serve- {bOd. was structured and tbclmed, The way to Ittld chopsticks Was rigidly prescribed, There was a set place to' Lay Illpsticks when they were not in use; There W,as onl-y one proper w,ay to III,Ill n teacup or sa~ GUp and a_ prescribed way to drink. Clc)thing was worn in a: certain: way that was, taught-> as carefully as one n ·h an art. There was a right way to fold and store clothing, There '1 rtght way to dust, t-O scrub fcloofS. There was a right way to hold wi use a fan. There was aright way to walk, Ther:e was virtually no HI 0 Q( Japanese life' that drd not have a spe'dfic fotm and €ltder. Any action or behavior that did not follow the pFescnbed f@rm was I I I flnly uneducated and uncultured, itwas un-Japanese and therefOre 1111 J p nes - and by extension anti-japan, ' I II· d wnfuH f Japall's last great feudaldynasry did nat end the role •~ k II In du tionand training. In fact, the training system, which 1'1 'V I ly It d inter d n th samurai class and embodied many major I fli Will'! qui kly hmndl'n~d 10 111 lud the mas f ornmon peopl as II. L II 'M rhl I' I, lin v r II ell! r en w rnn I, h I w of th
>

,

iU1lI1.

(III

ddllllLl

III

III

~['I'I III:l

1111 It

II e- rvle kill

In lunA\rn~

44

BeJ~ind the Jq:pan.es.e: Bbw

Kat'a mJa(aaQ TQd.a.v

45

f0r'cet:Ltltdes4 the lowel: classesalflo were, n{}wI~equired to undetg0 the rigorous training: necessary to, master

ana behavior :that had be~

kalla-ize'a

tAous'ands. of IGan.Jl .. The country's newly otganized Westetn~sl4'lifm1litary {"Tcre-S, 'thaae up pf'I;.Qrn'tIlone,['SO,ldiers and sailors, usua:1ly commanded f0rmer samurai, were formidable examples of kata ill action. The armed fOJ;¢.S' wer..e taught hoW'tQ ngUtandhQW' to die -hut hot 'Row to sUl'renaet. (B'om€ seventy-five ye.afsJater tne end QfWo,r1d WadI was 'probably d~~ayedby several weeks because there was RQ kata -far·clQing spmethptg that was virtl!;lllYlIlithi~aple. ~i6fPe afficers, 11J.1I0terlBy Japanese author Hatsuho Naito in The Tl1uridergodS' - the story' of Jap:an!s'World W<t.r II kamikase corps - wJ:1.O wanted. to end the !,:a;rnage hemoaned thts lack, exdailnip.g, liWe don't know how to.surrenderl") . Many of the ether kata that we;~e traditional II,'lJapan fOl centuttes also were. carried ov-er lnto 'nibdeth times~s0meon a substantially less.~rscale, hut .n,evert:hele:ss to the extent that they make a measure able contribution to the skill levels and culrnta] coh.erence of the 'country today. All.of the massive effotl1S t:G 1lrwfomI the country from a cottage industry economy. into an industrialieed' nation by importing Western ~dea$ and systems during the 1870s arwl lSBOs Were filtered iliroqgh the fabric of Japan's cultural kata. The result was that thecountT¥ was modernized but not Westernized. . Some of the kat a-based skills from the past that remain in place tadey include the tea ceremony, flower ZUrqnging,kendq, judo, and other sports. There also 1§ a japanized way to arrange furniture arid office desks. to 'learn, how to drive, to treat gues.ts, to buy and present 'gilts, and soon, Even the severaf billion, cloUarssRtnt' each tear in the .countrfs hostess .clubs and bats by businesspeople on expense accounts is a f"Un of kata, says a female Ja:pane~se. executive.I'MO§t .of the mGhey is spent to Impress e.u.stQrrjerli and eontacts, to obligate them, and to build personal ielaliolllships that. can be turned inti) business, Ir is not for fun or because they ep~!pythe' compapy 01 thejadivi8ua;ls" involv:ed! It is deliberate and c.prefully d'esigned, wIth its own fann and process," she said. Japan's prcfessiona] criminal class, the yaku.za.1 hqve'specific kata of their own that make them instandy recognizable to most Japanese. Yakuza kata cover their speech, the way they walk, their dress - even their hairstyle, with di tin t varian ns b d on wh r' th!y ltv In Japan. Typical yakuza wear pln·strtp d ~U!I:8, hi rk ~blrll w th guuuy d'lUnli c n them, In II If l' I' 1\ Iv J w liy IIIllId 111;1 IlIJ hI tl

by

I,elldants •. ahd lapeL }lins; h'av:e flat-t@p erew cutS' b snort Mo-sn&e \ IIrlS; walk with a swaggel;, talk roughi)!, are argumentative, and W'nerally l'le.ha~e fa an atmgant manner" $om~ 60 't01 70 percent iof V kuza have. colorful tattoos that" cover IUost,of their hffdi~s.

ana

The Role ,of Martial Arts
Martial arts haae had an extwl)tdinal"{: iUiluenec: on tht;. ereaaon ~p:d IIi lnteaance of JaRanls kata culture because of thedevel@~Vlent and Ilm~asc~danq of the pt0fe$~i<ana.l,?,pmurat warrior class. Several of : III -se arts, particularly judo and ke~do. rem:ain tQOa.yan ill1PQrt;mt. part !If the ro~nra1an,d physkal conrutioning of a s~.gp:ificant segment Qf,tlie
I

I

I

[upart's modem 5Q0rt of judo was del-Lved from the ancient martial a,tt ~ lown asjujt{.t£14> (ju.o~jute,.sue). Fbllov.ungthe downfall of the Tolelgawa Iltugunate goVerntneb.t in 1868' and thesi,1,bseFluent€li~~iltiol'\ of the ~nlilUrai warrior Glass, many of the schools teaching ngh:ti11:g arts to the ~m iurai wete, th1Jsed. Within a snort1;tme, '~lOw~veI, m::trtia1 arts ~chQOls 111-n to the general publfc began to appear; , . A Tokyo UniverSity student named JiwIO Kano ,~0t 'the' idea of I v 'loping a form of jujutsu that'aU;y~ne' ,"ould wao,tiee asa o~tacter. hutld r. In L8$:Z he opened the now famous Kodo Kan School eflude I 11I h gan promctingthe new spert, . n changed the purpose of the: atr from ili&abling or. killing an april men t to developing m~t3,lllq.d physical control of the oody 'and imbu11),( I udenrs with strong bodies, strong Wills, high moral values, and ad11 (l'1.1C to traditional samurai-style etiquette. Kal1Gl's ne:wve1'$iQn q£,an Illd i·, ly fighting art grew steadily. Eventually it was Introduced into II RI,lnr schools. as part of the curriculum, and it: also hei:;am,e .part ef the II I lll~ t J p n' p lice academies. Now, as judo, it is a major world,iiI' ~pl.)rt, Wh I only \ m II I r nta fall J pan se take up judo in school Ihe r pro ' 111011 -Il,~ n 11:1 cas of the police and the miltnflu J\ I ,It I 11111 h 1 rnll.l r b 1\1 l'1 • us t h wh tlw klU nrll" d vdop til killd 0' t:hill"u:rcr Ihn I 1111 ' U n hi, I j , '1 II· PIO ". If I'JIlII II I II
J

II pOl?lilation,

·746 Behind the J apanese Bow l}e,$~ljle::n,in parttculat" show a higher than "3Yera~e percentage who pFacticed jucla in their youth. [i: is interesting to note' that several hundred thousarrd "We$ternf'lt:s have uBdergoneintensive conditionipg in Japanesa k::tta si,nte the 19605, some Gf them wttkqpt 'fealizIrrg the-cultural significance, and the number continues to grow .each year. These partially kata-ized Westerners'_are students of Japan's 'famed karr(1ce-M (kah-rah-tay-doe). and In'dst of them are good examples of th~ the positive aspeNs, of the kata system, Karate-do, or "way of the empty hanf.l.," refers ta8 tnetholiLoffighffing based on using the hand!,> and feet instead of<weaponry. The earliest foProS Qt"empty haNd" fighting were created in Cwn:~ by Buddhist prie~ts fof' self-prote€tidndu,riag the Tang Dynasty (AD', ·6.18-907). Priests (aFl.cl other e.ommon pecw1e) in Chitria were l?revert ted by hnpena] law.ffom ownirl;g and using any kind of weapon. Yet they Wet€ Sl1bJeeted to frequent attacks by brigands, the soldiers olwarringlords" and various kinds @f ruffians. Strrb"ti.g.~m:inded pnests developed dre ad of kar1l!'):e (as wellas what is known in, the -West as kung fu) to protect thenraelves. OVer the centuries the techniques of karate were expanded and polished 1'q.I:O a hjghly sophtstiC'atedand deadly: martial art. In th:efourfeentneentury, tr<lvehpg Buddhist prl;eS'!;S introduoed karate to the island kingdom of Okinawa. now -a p~efecture of }a12a11. located aboireseven hundred kilometers south of die main islandsGf Japan. Karate thrived among the Olcinawans, but it was not until 1922 tIm,tit was finalLy tntt8'duceti into mainland Japan. . As tliey geriedilly do with all imports, the...}apanese -motlified and japanieed karate, incorposadng techniques and tIaining methods from aihi:~do (aye~kee abe) and jujutsu, both of which -dated back to the eleventh century and the rise- ci the samurai military' class.· , Also as is typic:ll in J apan,sevet,a! schools of karate were soon formed by });lasterS who ,favored slightly different technique». The art spread rap, idlY' among the discipline~ro:inded ]apan;cse, andfrom t1i'e 19508 began to attsaet ~e attention of many W esterners, Kasate-do gyms_can now be fOUNd aU over the world, -and the sRQrt tepre~enfi; OB.e of Japan's most suceessfirl exports. In its mcdernised form, karate is divided into three distinct categories: (1) a set of defensive and offensive kumite (kuu-me-tav) or moves

Kam

in. Japan

Today

47

The third categ<;H~y,kuta, is the f@lln'datiou.uf all karate .training; Beteaching 1heestpcb)Us~ed basic moves, these karn are designed to rnndlticn the mind and tbl! body ex the sj:udeJJt in an 6v~raU w,ay of life. Ih y incO!p3ratle control of dle emotions, .selE"CGi:dtcle-nce~ a s~r~~ 11 r r respect: for ol1hers. 'a, SOI?~tic!3.tedetiquett4-1 plus ~. hi~hly. a~SC1~ pHil d control of the bQdy as it is put thEbtlgh, a serres of fimtely 1111 ured m-oves performed at higb speed" K rate st~tlents cannot. advance in rank without achieving considerilrle skill in the phiitllsdphy and dl'5dpline" of the art. Saliools noanally will not te4ch the .deadlier facets of karate to anyone who does not

Is

umlerstarrd

ami accept the p'hilo'$.Qphy and t;!_iSqipline that g,qes )-Vith it. .

rate i§ :dlus a perject example of Japanese. lci.ta in acti:bn in an ideal Ull (1\011 hase:d eu. tstal eootrol(jli the Oltnd and body" absolute adhet11'~ to minutely prescribed behavio:t, the mastepV of techniques I, f,{ned tQ meunt. a perfect defense or demolish an opponent, and. 1111 rul philosophy thl'It il!l.t€~grate1i peace and power. .:1

Survival Linked with Kata

that are carefully detailed; (2) "free" mav 5, for of~ nse a well a in which practitioners may tnnovat ; lind () l.l nr " l rrn' prncti e. Both of rh kumt[ or gori~. r qlllrt, uu 111(1111\ lit, JlIt' knt r prn I d IllIn
defense,
I

\1.1

'XtI' •

48

Behind the J apanese Bow
I'

The Kata Hae1ior

49

Elemtutary and ,:b:igh sChool leV'e'i €ducatlor.l in Japan was naturally structured v;'im verys~eciftc kata that rangB~ (rpm iq~fltllQa,L ~nilhXlUs and bowing to s:~rkt t{)utin~$ for classceom petf'Qrmance, The system: was designed to motd each student into ,i homogenized product of ,the cul-

It:' nforce the'tnenHnllat

ture. The only screen fe'lr p-ublie sollege admisltoiqrts was a. $taudarize.d tesr, No !.'tQu13ii:leraR0fi WasiJ.g!vttn to\s0b:o,oi grades" extrncui'tk.ular a€tivi~
their teen years, de~€19ped a eornrnon. set of "Japanese" Ch'Q:fBcttlrisrics that were thereafter EO WIJlY semlnaJ l'QLe iI in ~lie count');,y(s'fut:1:Ite, m@te Sf) than. lnthe p~~ peaaus'€ this timefue' tjysre-rn was applied to every6he" not just the privileged C~SIlS. These characteristics ~0tu;ded
pt'6C¢SS during

;1i!1~ong:tJ,€ Japanese. ' The '~ews media constantly the Japanese are a sqpe'Hor ~t:,ople. [1\ addition 110 the litpane.se compulsion to sxeel as gr@ttJ~l§, it also I, '('I ime CMratn!!tts¢c lor· each in;ctLvtauttl wit!;rin a: group ro give his or
It

pI'dally ~p,ular

ties, of any thing else, The overall r~su.lt of all [apanese being stibject~d
thllClhQoalilld

to 'a .stdct tnC'lldln:g

r all for the grou'p, Tn€. tendenG-Y was ft'lt each pers_on tq .ae¢ept total IlonsibiLiity ,fOIlthe goals 'Of the grouli' and dq his Or heT utiu@Sti to ,II h .ve them This I;esults lfi af! e:xtw·ort:l.tn:.ary f.ll'l'l.t;mnt ~f'energy anel 'I rgy "being applied 110 any project,
s car). readily be appre.dflted, an entire natton pby~i'c~ny }nd ID~nlI,lll' condfdened. itt these -amlIJut:es iSgCfing M) have a slgn1flcan:t ad\ ,1I1toge oVe;r people who ase less trained, espedallvwhen tfue:i.r ,effbrt;~ II i' hatmeledoy clle..government and fl;ld:ustry te ..adiie:ve specific goals. I spite the closed-in nature of the Mni:litiouing U1ideq~one by 1,111I1nese-()rgerhapl' .because ()f it-th¢y hove an eclectic rTnmtaliry, ~ n rule they are fascit1ate-ci,by e~l'eign thlllgs;_ _and. idefl,s'''<\li:d have al}b.-v IldU' oompulsion to '!l-l'lal){~end djg:est everythuw'tnat d)mes xh(tinWli' a lit c m:pulsion tONers everything ,from ,o1otrung and food to techI\ull Wi, arid it has uOhtributed gI¢'ady to the e'C,_~nomij;an:d :s:odaL ~-{rides llli ]upanes.e h~ye made since 18'OBI. Among other tnings,; the Japanese

1.

A'highly develQJilBd se~s¢_ of balance form, qtder, Ini'd st~le
qt!;;l(tat,y,

2, Aa Lnqritite teel (-aFlcl_fie~ij) tPI preejp,itJTl,.,
3.

-end ¢,p,rr.el:p;r&Ss
work. especially

Extta@rdinilty

manual

dnterity

a,ndt411! abllitY

to

well on small, sophisticated things;

4, A predii5position
$.

to

apply themselves

With $ingle-J?inded

dedicatron

\1.111ample a;nJ 100(1, anyilid,
If

to the task, at'lw.nd
An (w~F.W'helmin-g desire to, excel in anything theyuitl.; to be as ~QOd ,~ er better than anyone else -although if they were better tHan members of their own group"tne.y had to dqo/jJplfl'Y their talentQehind_a mask of hU$ility iit order ttz;.: ruaintainbl'terria_J! hafmony

ianrl if they hk-f' it they will fli:i,d'it -rtolre withQut any strain on their cultur.al charader.

to their;

The Compulsion for Quality
'cr rh centuries all [apanese were: prQ~l'l'1me;d ",ith the idea that 'VI"I s rvlce Ehey performed 'Or tJFod:ucit tliey Itl:l1de had !tQ 'PFe¢t~ely '"IIIl\'.' ko~a whose goals were perfection. N(j:a.Uowanc0~ were made for lIlyl h [)~ less, Time and cost wereno prinvdry o0nsidetat;ions. Some of 1111- mur fUll U' rtists and designers of the day would n-6~ accept a~ly pi • l I fit h d m ney or time constraints, This attitude remains
_hllll!

Exhibiting pride in one's ability or acn~tnplishments has ahvays been 't~b,00 in J apan, and it isaOJillfl1@l1 to-see noted pct)ple humble th~ms.el ves ,before.-t'heirc.0'\J,eagues aneoi.'the puBlic, 'I11ere v,1e:re notestraints en com'PCiitrng with other J_apaRese greups odb"eigners,'how~Vil\(, with the result

that grOU,.f)5. withih cQmparues as well as cornpanics, as, a. whole compete
fi:e.t't::eiy~ainst each other. "No Rbids Me barred. It i~ 'dog-eat-dog as long as a facade of hllilJ')_Q-UY is raaintamed," said a resident foreign

bWi'4tessma'n, In fact, within the context of their group the Japan s ar
obsessed with being better

,

f
II 'II

hlHIIIJ.lh
V1 •

I '!ill\

lc or the [apa» se rodav,

vtrruullv

virruallv

Lml .,1 tlll'r
ll"

Il'(;UF' l II Y I

and d ing thing~ herr 'I' Ih. J1 nllt III rs, nd they ar c nsrantlv making I11l1arL ens, BuokN WI 111'1) II Ii lr • ",n ·r. trump tll'\g [npan's sue 'S~'II in 'ompnl'lsol1 ~ Iill LHllt'1 I 11lI1nl ~ II .

11 [apan se work ers are bound by the bun II ~ W '1111' ttl ir d 'nrilY a' japanese -tll

and

'1l\1Ik
I

II
Iit'd

L III

'(

II

~VI' hl'l>ll

'tllllir

IIWIIn.lllII

d vnr1k"

thr qUHl1i y

iii pro luct po ,ihl , In: dLl 1111 III nlmuru II \~l<lbli· In fll'! hy, !II vh !IIII I lv tV 'IVI 11111),1 Ill!' !ll'ilIWN'

do n W. I' n

50

Behind the Japanese Bow

Kata in Japan TClday

51

made-<fel;' ~'XllQrt frora until 1960 was strictly controlled by fQr;eign impor,t'ers who brought in the sam;pleS' t~ be eopied, q.esigrutted the matertals to 'be useq, and sat the: pricea, ]apanesti .looked upon these products with ~nt'eti1pt, regarding them as suitable oalv fbr' 'f01:e,igners with no taste or quality standards. Present-day j.apane;;e ate, of course, rioted fnt their concern -'Some might;sa~ obsession-witfi. qualiiyl which is still anpther e?tample @tan ~mportant factor inherited nom their: kl;l.ta-based culture, Their long history, of kata-tzed af'ts~crafts, and general life-otyle ccnditicneti them to aut0maticaUyexpect the highest possible level. of quality in any se~ice or product. In-keepirrg With the best of their cultural conditioning, the japanese begari institutionaliring the- 'concept ,of quality ,in- modem or W(fStern-stvle produc.ts during the 1950s, andwithiIi a decade the whole ptacess had beeti as k;ara~ized and sanctffied 3S the c:rarting of t:raditio.ual ceramics, Iacquerware, anrl pottery. O",e of the aspects of the quality obsession of the [apanese is that it covers the whole product, including areas tlla t are not Qrdinatily'Se~nthe bott0ID, i;qsi€le, and so on. Many Western pro-ducts have faile'd the Japanese test for quality because they we're not flilly jiIlished or detailed.

lino

I•

very eonspi~uoJ.1s and to' be ope of the pr~maty a.ovantages the J p nese have 0ve'r ffiQSt ether societies, The sincerity and diligence ofthe japanese is nat-a €.flSual Or amoEph~ ,111 thing, It is a S'trllcwre.d, l~amed behavior that they take notice, of jlllli pride in. They hal)itually m'ake cotnparis~ns betweea Japanese and h'l ·Igners"noting that lap-anese are more d1l:tgent and mm.e sitrCere. than lorlgo_ers-wh11:e,t,enilirig to ignpte, anyev'idence to the G,ontrary. A typical example of this behavior: At 6 A.M· in a New Y-o.rkhotel lllffh shop where I ba,q just; finished an early breakfast, I met the$lles "!Imager of a majdr japanese wttrpany y..horn.ll$ew from Tokyo. I made II casual comment, "You're up early this moniing!"-a:oommon greet!nw. The.l)l<1rrv,ery-s~rt:ously rep,li:e,a, "Because I am a diligent Japanese!" H [One of voice god manner: implied; ver:y emphatically that other I I pl did net get up early because they were not' diligent and did not .1Il nsure up to japanese standards. He &impty did notl'~lilgnize that I "lid many other norvJapanese werealsb Ul! and busy. It seems to me that sincerity bas several distinct meanings to the J pnoese. A basic meaning is, to never deceive oneself Ot others; to have

hi fmonywit:hrin

one's

inner self and with all inl'eme1ions witli otb:ers; to

Japanese-Style $incerity
Early visitors to Japan were singularly struck by the degree of sincerity, faithfulness, and fidelity of the typical japane:se-fo familY,frienas, and employers, The aViemge employee would ttpt cheat his or her employer or stint on his or her effotts' despite Iaek of supervision or control. For the most part, dedication to duty and re~gONSibil,ity tr!t!-l1sce.nded personal considerations, P::tE;s€nt-day Japanese commentators point out that in many other socie.t:ies it is taken for granted that human nature is evil and if not controlled will au~qJIlatkall;y reSQ1't1Jo evil deeds - a belief that is usually seLUulfilling. In contrast, they say, traditionally oriented J. pan e ar intrinsically good and, if left unsupervised, will conrinu work dilj n ly, voluntarily trying to improve b quality of their wurk u Willi til 'Ir rodu rivJty. h ngtobl mOT ~ In Jllpnn h V· fillY d rl (lIlLl rlon I JflP [W l' tr III .·1 -rnn}] Hll·d ped!ll'ln lilt t', hili ('111111 h III II ~ 11 II~ til

fir' 'Is 'ly follow pr,opet etiquette with the appropdat't! demeanor. Anlit it r meaning is to be cOnStantly ready to give upeverythin:g in or4etto Ilf'luwe in a totally spoutHneOtIS way in response toorre'"s mnetmQat 1r1.lIng . Such spontaneous behavior, when it occurs, can. be either gloritill ur hocking, depending" on its content. A In all things [apanese, there is a'sredne, recognizable kata to J punese sincerity. The fundamental ethic o£J~ganese-style sjncenty is II u P ple adhere faithfully to all e~ected behavior; that no action be I,.k n that would result in others losing faoe; that decisions and actions I ·11, t the wili and needs of !he gtoup, that haImohy'prev~i1 Other''key It lints in Japanese sincerity include honesty, "wholeheartedness," II 11 'Ill htand the special [apanese char~cter:isttc called f:anbari ito l ~hill (g hn-bah-ree no sav-e-sheen) or "never give up spirit." t 'lnt n rating Japanese-style sincerity requires that one follow the klil 1\. J pnnese tiquette and spirit in all things - eating, sitting, meet~lu I' ·tlpl I tnlkillJ;(, working, and resp ncling properly to all the passages. II. ~) hirl'h n I w d ng r < th .
TItl
II

J

r'

r

0

~ht' karu

p IU,

III l

v M d. JI II II. hull n

m

t'

I

J

nhu h h
11 dIll t

w

t

h

11 II y I gl

III I~ tr
11 J

nnllt tlUCI1

II II

ted d lty in all r as of s. On. rb tillY of thiN 1I U )kl II r t 'd n I tilth"! .IJ hi·, Wh II lb·

5Z

Behiiid the Japanese Bow

Kata in Japan Today they

53

fiv:e- li!j."Y@ai:;oldgirh were _enQug,h:" when attend~g

aSked why

hullied~their

killing tierself, they said it was because ~h_ehad "failed the t1ve ,girls.

-a ·ttmetal _cel')emQUW ftJr ehe

classmate into tQ_ he llincel'e

mbd;r¢F

<0£ efie

of

aU 0thel;s

takes prec:'eqenoe ev.et ,all Glther values m mattll;geih-e-n"t" while Am:e:ririan and European: managers cohsLaer fairness the most Important value. 'The next most impeetanr llJanagqn-ent value in the japanese context- of thitlgs is: 'Ithe spi:J;it of challeqget meaning .tha! theindhiidu"ll is dediGated to ,giVlng, his at her all to overconting any ol?~tade and _SUT[I'a5§it)g
in achiewemept~
siITceril;y _ Because'Japanese

_Studies have shown. that: [apanese business managers

~Uevesincerity

is based on a sitllatio.nocletiql).~tte

instead

l'I~l! to lose (atel or.giving,anyoTI!2 nmsbIi {ot'doubting yow;:s:tp-eerity. In inc terms, one b-llil$ 'tru$:t }>v keeprng all promises and commitIII •nrs, ill hU5-iness tenms this, rne;;tt;lS ke,eping d~hVf!_ny date&. Ji~spon~ing III comg aints,grompt1y and positively" makjng' prompt re;paits" wa4 , n;ying.quraf'ter-illal'es services. it aI~o Include rnmimizing price: bibs, IImlfying,your,:hu-Sitless j!laftners itt a:dvanoe dlt any PJi',tlU1® cnanges i!];lrl ~ -king taeir H,Iuilerstandmg and cooperation, conttnuousl :Striving to mpreve the quality of your pt'GclHcfSer services, ami helping vour busi11rss partners -diems or customers - jf th:€y get into tr 'lihl!'}besanse of 1 If'Cum~tan~~S,;bfWQnrl t,heltcpntreL People who Gonsht'encly beh~e in this manner command the trust UIJ respect; of all andean oftefi'_get cooperation ana help frdm Japa.nese
ll11l1,panlestnlit [fauSto'em:! Qrdinary ,bu.sin~s"consideF?tlons.Th_e kata_-{')f hlnyo is nothing more tHah always following the highest Japa_rrese~s~te' IlIlIral and etiquette st:aFldards pr,escribed by the Japanese Way, Not sUTJir-tSlftf$IYl it is V,e1y diffietulf fQt fpreig'it1en;. tQ 'e;~~bns:h ·the, k1tld lin I level ofrrus.t with the [apanese that they eXpeot ambng themselves, I me lifelong f9.reign~l'e$~tleN~,®f Japan ,S;il}' it is impossible. They Heint 11111 that tb'~fQTeigner simply !tannor guarantee !:hat haul1Quy will ntlt he "~I'II ted, and t}iat t4e record 9f foreigners dealing with Ja-pan psoves

of universal pf:in6if)les,h'Owever, there Is anether siq:e to it- an oPPllsite, with parallel kata for being. insincere when it suits Uie purpose. 'Fhese kata" include not saying what you r~$ly think. ,pFe~nding diat things.~re lln~ w.hen they tI~ally _3J,;e Gt" and igt'l,Qrit:l;g' thin'gs aao <pelilple for se:lfQ serving -reasons, This factor alone briilgs a very subtle nuance to interpersonal relationships in, Japan, and makes it !tspe.ciallx @iff4cult-fQr

fqreignel;'s

to ha:veeonfidenee

in

their dealmgs with Japanese.

Building- Trust
The.shi.1:i.yo (sheen-vee) or "trust" faetor in Japanese society is an extensian <of the sincerity factot. Without sincerity. one cannot have shinyo, a:bd Without trust one cannot build or maintain a Iong~lasting personal or business reJationship. Tnrst; the japanese, say, is. the end result of sin'cere behaviIDt. The Japanese are extrarm:linarUv s.ensitive'llbQi;lt "lqsing face," but this -sel'lSitivity often take:s 'a back seat to th~it concern for trust. As is frequently noted, you can lose face any number of times and survive, and
face is relati,velyeasy to regain-sometimes in a matter of minutes or hours with som-e-new success or- redeeming behavior. But loss of trust is e2<:treme-ly difficult to overcome, and there are many a i n wh n i i simply impossible to regain. As the Japanese say, 11 t b nil U'U 'd I lik having a thousand and one enemies. r is no my 'ry b U l W to hllilJ . h nvo, It UlC~1Icverv: h rl,t! I Ill" hl(· r tl tvo] I d I~rupt lit I-t I til, mv,

Ih, I lint as far a-S the-Japanese ate cencBrne.l . By the same t0k.:en" i~ is WlllID1DU for Japanese, c.ompanidf tEl take ad1111lag of in"'€lividl,l:a1 foreign bl'ls-ine.~meople as well as fQ-reign comIltlril s, no matter howS'incere the foreigners are in cheir attempts to fol,
of trqs't ana loyalty demanded by the japanese, 8ften, their I on le is that i:t 'is. all right to t?Ike; s.uchad-:vantage ~ecause the I III gn rs are not Japanese andsucE: behavior is therefore a:ece:pta:j;,le. hls kind of logic: is applied not only tQ. fmeitpers, however, It also is
I

I,ll ~hc kata

\ ~II d to other Japanese, llsually covertly" [!jut' pt~er times openly as 1\ • P dally when no. group ties are involved. "The Japanese 'Play IHotilldl a zalnst all utsiders. Their policy is; "If y_ou have the h{1mmer lU h r the otli er guy at the firs t opportutl1ty,' '! ~ld '11 ftDreign. bl1stnes~l!lim with I ng exp rience in Japan.
w
t

W nnin by th Numb r
ultur Ity
IhullJ;lh fInd I 111'1111 II! 'v 11'111 th V
J In'

Th

hn i
I

J I I rn
II! u

I

rn
nn

U

t

rypll'lill l' III IlIW )ltllll~l [II II I', LII ev

,d

r··' \

n y!r1J.1
11111

54

Behind the japanese Bow their pO$it:r@'il

Kata in Japan Tooay

55

peUed to persevere because of the o.hligatipn theyopwe to

I'Inrgy, or (lost. To the Ja.pande, however, -perilevertn~'a.nd ~~g

and role inS0.ciety, &3Y§ japanese writer Takashi Iwas'aki. This ohligation is,:esge'CiBlly strong when the individualooneernw is high.~ranking-m
the military, in busipess, -or go'Vernrnentr- but it :pertains to a de.grl~& toall Japanese regardless of their s~tatus. Ultimately, their .identity as Japanese c0mpels them to sacrifice the~selvt;s to fL,11fillthe tole they perceive as requirelil to uphold the honor of the oountty. This dbligation to win or succeed in whatever endeavor-conserned is, as alwa¥s, group oriented, but it is. cotn;moj;l tor .individuals ranK to assume r;e$pons~bUity ~:r~onaUy when the matter is grave and on a large

in

mall slic€ at a time is the name 0f the game. P(')rel~ Dus.messpt1:@pl~, 11ether stationed in jap,ah or on a visit;, wh(,rattempt to circumvent thts illy embeddeo pattern of behavier - by giving orders, ~old~g a ,11)\ -hour l:irlefing session, setting a deadline, and so on- are tnvarIably It u trated when ~othing happens or things'ge awry. _
14 II d

~hings

of

scale.
Westerners dealing

I

eneraU", speaking; there -.is no way fo1' the fOIe~gn 'Dusiaes,speTson to this s'tand-:rrd };;lpan¢,se m:gociating practice if he or she is tlie one • king to deal with the Japanese. In that case, ~e .he~t reco~se is to I.. rn how the ~'rtstet;l1werks ami how tD operate WJ.tht~ tt-whkJl, often ttl lila hiring a good Japanese negp#at:0t whO'is conditioned to split 'inti-

invariablyencbunter tHis 'it is predicated on the coneept.of.continuing to talk anaques.ri0n (negoliiale) in-a ve-I;YpQll1te. but tenacious manner utttilihe other .sid!! compromises and a consensus isrreached or the ather side is worn down and.gives up. ThiS technique is particularly conspicuous in ))usine~s as well as in pQLitical and diplomatic negotiations. One vetetan for~ign Mgotiator observed that, .generally s1'leaking, the J apaneseare exceptionally reserved and !kIllte :when-they Me in a weak position, .btlt he added, "In my experience they are tess polite and cap. Pe rapacious when they have the advaP1!age." Japanese typically emtllo¥ a.number of other deeply entrenched cultural characteristics in using their hang-in kata, particularly patient~ and pliancy - bending with the wind wtthou t loJltng their essen~eor fbrm - and, a saoo-g, emotionally charged fucade of polite humility, hosthe J.apanes.e

with.

"it hairs and wUtdo so any-om: behalf.

'!mljst_~1'

tactic. In virtually all relationships

Traveling by the Numbers
J
P
I1'S awesomely n, sights in efficicBt

tc:mT:ist indusny
to

is a very C(!HlS.~icUOUS

rnple of their dedieation

detail,

fOrID;

and prQcess:. OI1~·af the most

Wlmn

pitality, goodwill,

with this

cooperativeness. Western,er§ whQ are unfamiliar multileveled combiI'lation df cultural forms tend to be confused
when they are confronted

and

and frustrated, mrce.

with them as a concentrated
. -, ..'

.

The Japap.ese; approach to eonsensus building is a vital part of their negotiatiri.g. technique ana., planned or Flat, is ofiep. a signilicant part of their business tactics. This kat~Az'j!t1 ~pptoach requires that the matter at hand be broken down inro its smallest possible facets or units, and that each gf these bits be metieulously scrutinized from every angle to Inake sure everyone in the group totally understands the subj ct and has every piece of information that might be relevant.

TD_kyO. as we,11as .other major cities and siijhtseeing ~ tlnations, ate groups of [apanese sttfaents, farmers, and members of Ii' ous associ$tions IU0Ving _about in orderly masses. Such tours-are scripted doWn to the last detail, including taking the UlIlli.p to prearranged stores to .do their mandatory shopping f0r the mei 111m" (rnay,e boot-sue) or "famous products" of the area. AuestaurantoS, \'ryone typically eats the same thing, An Allieri:c;an teacher who ..aca' 11111 anted 3,000 high school students- on one 'Of their annnal Qutmgs _It d, 4'1 don't think they (the teachers) allowed for one sponraneous sec'mg was organIZe d .... " PI\. I v ryt h . rr )11; especially in the case of young students, the groups }Vl~ h.e til. sed x.actly the same. They are especially conspicuOll!l when it is I I 1IIns nd all are wearing yellow or orange raincoats-and rain hats. . II ht8 b.1g kata goes back nearly four hundred years and. 1$. a
,j

This microscopic approach - r tl ctiv of tr Inll naturally takes time and d manda Q [ v I uf fellc I h 11I III r~ lr~n-li' lhnt th r:ypi I W st m r r W rJ I, UVl'lk 11, nd !1ft II 1\ r

wth of the Japanese way of dQing things. in a hig~y n r r he k f ffl i ncy a well as order. SystematLc ) I I IIllun I trnv l In Joplin b ~ n in the mtd-1600s wh n religious I I 11• I Itu h ",Un {Z n zl Hur t sr nt '1l\J'l1 . nd hrln S EI I' h" I ~,Ul 1 t· I ntl h uti 1111 I hr ne A' nUll orm J for Hch n ~11 _I t1 110 d N kn ~UI III ',I, 111 II (l •
oLltgr It
IZ

I

rm

These religious, pilgrim~ traveled 0n [not, as elM all '01helicDQ1ffiQn weople in Japah, and were 'thus on the road for weeks at a time"wheng'Qing to ~stantdestin:ati:6ms.' They moved it\_p(~tammed fdf'l'ftadous that ~er:e ~s metictJlQusLystUie;ttfr,e(1 as rilihtaty~ units' on themar~h,.fbUPw.ir;!g the :IDqt(ltes of cultural oonciitioo1l1g t!h"l~had airef:!dy bet;;n gging on fQr 'cenfuties and was to €Onanue d~n to cnnrempor.aty times. Even msre cc;rnspl,tetiPlus. '"ana certainly far more important culturally., ii,\oltticaUy; an:ueconOrrlloal:lYi were the g1;eat "F"fO'ee1S~QnS d£ Lol'Gi.sJ, dlat were an e!'tttBonlinary part, of Japanese life;for over two hundred. year$> This phenomenBn be~an in the late 1030& when the J,"u1ing,Fdktigawa ' Sh0gon decreed that some, 270 of:tb:.e cOLlJ~l't:ry:se1an Ierds would maintfl,Ut residenzes - ~fl Edol' (pr.@sent<ci<I¥T"6K,v@), kl?ep their wives and clriloren there ~t all times as hes_tag'i\s,;;tJld theml)elve& altertutttily .s.pend "every other year ill Boo to atterj.d the ShOg(JB"S COUTt. T'hislaw, d.e:signed to Keep the clan lords undee control and to ptevent them from buildiqg np 'a strong; e;Ceft0.mtc base' thaI IDrg:n t'rnreateh the shogunate, sp'~eified h0W many watTIOfS and retainers eal::h lot'd Vlould bring with him on his ttips .to Jhe capita], l:!¢w they w@uld be dressed, how they behave, Ma whi(!.n rtmt~s tlitev, wete to take. Thespro,ee~sioN ",fj;he ~a€-rla, the largefit and richest the clans, COJilsisted 61' IDClr-e tlmn a thousand people. For generation aft~rge{'):et-atiQn; the"e great, colorful processions WI$Set:i,(O and fro'()1l Japan's roadways, dernenst~qtingthe power of the local lord and the ruling T pkligawa- tarhiry" as wellas carrying-culture and homogen~;ring thenatL@n. Remnants of such mass conciitiemihg, still visible inSU0);1 ordinary 111utsUltS as reereafioriai traveling, m-e y~tanotheImeas\.J.reof the vital nature of the kata £actor in ey~ryol~y life, to J apan - il~W also witnessed ,daily;in countries around the world among the mil1iotl€t 9f Japatl:e$~ who an:nually travel abroad to shop, visit world. famous landmatics) and honeymoon.

pfllt essre hBld atrap.anese~stY'lerestau[ants, inns, hotels, large banq_uet If lls, and a~ hOksgrmg spas'. .. ) . e: • . 11 kai banquets~re fYetfect €}xamples of Japan s kata~dtIVen and ho~ 1I1Rntzed,mOllp culture, Ever'yihing.fs. 'cffte£hlly ~nd ~eti€Ulou51y carr , I,d out aCG.~r:dil1g well~practieed cusl0m-1he te seanng, f00d,,'S~I;V~ae, !lId l1tertainm:ent follow a tra,d,itiQmU formattha t goes back felrcentU.rles. When the banquet part;y taltes "place at a hot,spr:mg inn- Japan M.s I V 'r two th€),_us.-~d hot;.sprin;g spas - parucipants . are Gften d:e:&S~d 1I1 Iii, nticatcotton fjiiIWta (y.uu,-kah-.erah) rlj1:~ proVlded qy, the ~. The ttl re pregram is ,mchestrared by; a kanji (KahP.~jee) Q~ r€)~ capta.m I lilt wed by the numbers. Everytlfulg that is done remforces :the group IIti( ntationmutual dependence and cooperative &pil'it of the :group. It IS ne'cessm to be er!1otir;m8!Uy, spiritually. an:diOtelkctuaUy wned. III I'll Japanese Way t3 fuliy a-p,pre€i:a~ethemefllllng'ana importahc~ af ,,,. nkai to the Japa~ese. Enkai are among the P~<m' "~,ouLs)1ll'ings"f o 1r Japarte~e, ess~t~l t.@ b}leir wel1~biing in the ~eepest (mltural :s~ns,e.I

ana

hll • partkipateo

or

tilt" r lit V. lidity dffue japanese Way and Idletr group mamtenance magic, V rtoally every adult Jap';anese w:ho i.s weli e:t;lnug to ge~.out of the hllliH atttmds. at Ieasr on~enkai a year. Many, esp.e'Cls.11y bUSJ_ne~liV\\l~le nu professionals, typically attend one or more banquet partlese-a~h 1I111,ltl . It is pessible that the outsider 'who is n0t 'vetseQ. we~eno\Jgh m th, Japanese laiiigo:age: and customs '00 lully join in the l'1t~al ef the IIbl, or similar Japartese rituals, is £CT~'V.erl;;ll-fI'ed fr01"(1 an important , ,j q{ intimacy withJafl;:,m· .. ;' .' ., Fit kat parties ate a mkrocesm of}:ipanese culture-m action, far more tlilpm ant to ian ,understantlihg and appreciation~f th~ Jtfl}~es~, ~fJ-Y

in hundred of thes.e (::ultu.r.al ~tua.ls and. can a,t~est. to spiritual and Ii:PlQtionalimpact)~n,d tot1ltnt~ffe€tS m_reaffi~mmg

?

rhnn rh aesthetic arts" that Japangeneraliy e,mphaslzes to foreIgn
uul trl s to export.

Vl.S1.t0fS

Reconfirming Japaneseness
cflll

Baseball the Wa Way

My wn f< verite [apanes kata in a ti n L J fin erlkvi ( n-kte), whl hi' on )f the
" '111 S

In }uj'l n. ParI
uuurruunnt

(plllll

• t( rrn: liz'd bilnqll t parrv mo.~( cuamum ((I II ( pulur in '11k II rHII'II('~ lit I.' 111lJ.11I (,Jt I III .
IlnlllllJI·I1I.II_I~I~lhlllll IJld

11)111'

',II~n(

11!tlllh,

Ill'

58 -Bud

Beiiind the Japa,nese Bow

Kata in Japan Tooay

59

in the processmade it inte a topic that has irispi1;ed two of the .more entert$:rringand insightful books on Japan in recent ,years; The Chrysltt1-thetnumand the Bat and You Gotta Have Wa, both by R0Dert

Whlting,

'

play that is' important, a: foactor that tot~lly mystifies and eventually frustrates most American atWetes ~ho' hiIe0ut -to Japanese baseball clubs. On the ene hand, American players are hired by Japanese ball clubs fQr their hitting or pitching prowess; But the Americans quicKly find themselves in "R double bind if they do roo well. IT they show up their; eW'tearmnates or the players on the opposing team, they may bel deliberately handicapped to make it mere diffictdt -or impossible -fori

How: tkl!' japanese, :play profeSSIonal baseball is' OI\e of the best: egampies of their process and .grpup,oriepcta1lion. G)n a; Japanese baseball team it is not how well you play, bot how well you train 'and how YQU

No matter how skilled or how high the 'repute ((1)rthe salrn;y) of the wiy arriXl:lidAroetican ba,s~ball player, the first thing the Japanese numagers and Guathes atteOlJ;lt to {it') is: to -make rum over in their image. I heir conditioning in the kata of baseball is so strong that their III [ructions to the.new foreign b;atting ace may include- how he is s_uppll~ed to hold his bar. This same ,obsessiQll with form and process is repeated endlessly in r 'ry area of private and public-life in Japan. It often works beautifully wit ore automation and assembly lines are concerned" but when numan Illtcractiot;t .is . yqlvecl it 'Qftenrequb,:es all. extraordinary emotional inI

v rment, slows thin~s' down, and ,pomp1icat~s matters.
!

Among the handicaps that have beenapphed to foreign baseball \ players to control their perfmmq:nce: taking them out of the lineup when I they are hf;l.Ving a hitti.i:1g streak; enlargirqI the strike~2O'Q.ese pitches, th.at weuld tloltllally be balls become strikes {;without tclUng the batter of the new temporary rule} i and .replacing a pireher who is stril;cing out too
many

them, to pe_rfotmas

w:l~.

..

.

.\

Copying as a National Skill
hlHn about 1870 until 1970 the Japanese were often roun91.Y criticized opiers instead of innovators. The., were, in fa~t, geniuses .at. (,:opyingl
l\UI

The very "Japanese" point that most foreign baseban players cannot appreciate- t!) that they, are expected to produce em cue when there is FlO danger of anyone losing face. If they fail to pl'O~t!ce wheU'expeoted or db more than is expected" they are in trouble, Another aspect '(>f Japanese besulxmt (bay-sue-boe-rue) is she extramdirta:ry emphasis on training, physical aad Qleb.tal, re:q_uire.~by the managers and coaches, It gQes $0 far beyuulu what.Ameriean player.!i' COn' sider neeessarv or desirable tnat they Fegard it as irrational. What is often even more wsttlrping -to American players on Japanese base hall teams is the degree of t6~etheFnessand team harmony that is required. The, whole team is expected to beh,ave as a single-cell unit. The individualism and idiosyncrasies £Or which American players are famous are strictly taboo. Another point that imported American pasehall players generally miss is that in Japan baseball is less of a game that is play d for fun and more f a medium for dev . loping and d mon tratlng spirit I d h rru ny. In J pen, spirir, d dl ti n, and dl lplin h V' mil h I 1'1.I III I I ~ th 1 r re rton nnd r tlv y.

players_.

'

h If(

rather than this being a fault, their skill at imitating Mdadapcln.g igo custams and techru~logy has ,gr.oven to be one of their greatest

IIiIA

I was Japanese skill in copying! amcmg other faetoreS, that made it lble for Japan tGJ bed€ltnethe t:echnology-bas:ed e'.CoIH;uIDCower it is p hnh~y. Here again. it was centuries of accmmu1atedknowleelge and esI n e,. ptimarily gaine.d _tllI9ugh kata, that gave me Ja:pane.sean edge It h~ coming consummate. copiers. It ook the Japanese a white to develop the eorifidenee to make imIIU IV merits in the things they C0p~~d. SOm-e, <;:If thJ;l West~rp:. m,pducts Ill'Y duplicated for their own use prior to the downfall of the feudJ lillli unate in lap8 were faithful reprodtlctioU$" Including the design 1111111lRIlas well as the primitive w'b:rkmanshlp. Again, as. already menuuu 0, during most of the century that they were detisiv:ely described as III r I pro ti ally aU of the things they copied were done on order from lUI '141\ m rt rs w] , n most cases, were not interested in high-qualtty
1'111

ueugths.

'lIld'

Nt \

hi , .
I

In
I

dcllliutl to wh t
\I

III

III

co ying,
\lId
111\

J
III
t)r

pn

or
IU
I (

nv nit r

111 til IId111l

- I ~11I mid J Ill'lU

~hr ult

~I.'

IIU\' ~(

111111"

I \) nil

Kata in Japan Today

61

60
thei,r

Behind the Japanese 13QW

itnpno.vement.:·J)·

tratlitio~al ka.taiS ste.p;by,step im.pi,ov:ement unti} 'total Inastery is aehieved. ThIS h.·.. '.. ct ' attitude remains verv,.. mqeh in eVl'dooce tm! a;y an. d LS ' . '. .. summe up ill tseke;y wor.d kai zep (kie~zen), whieh means "continuous
. .

CuteBes,~,'and Infantilislll
11 -re is
III

.g

shlkata £ob! fer:ninine cut,¢ne.Ss IF) Japan, this tFaditiuhal

!!

Dressing the Jap~esePsyche
~uring 8e~eralperlbtls of J,apan's feudalage, wearing ap.parel was general'ly ~r.esctibed by law, ana what was not legally mandatedw~ controlled by ng'id custorn. There w.a:s a prescribed dress for members of the royal CQU~t; the shogun and h.ls court" the samurai gass" qn~ fOr merchants oilier ,commoners. The date when. p.eople a.h:anged ftom summer to m:nte.r ~~rttte and vice-versa was officially announced and was often at consid'erable variance with the weather, , 1?e .cod~g of wear:it),g appareil based en class add ~cGupation, was IUStttUt1Q~a1lZeafO the point tKat wearing the wrong .kind of app.arel wu: a senous offense. Not only were the specific. items of clothing pre5cribt';d fer each gt'Ciup, the' way clothmg was put on worn and taken off was k;\itaAzed. ' I ,

~a

'ness kata consists' of gttls ~:IIitl y~Uflg women simula1ttngbaliy-like mres atld speetb in a type of behaw9~ ~hat is highly prized by J l.pllilese men as portraying :i:nFj,@cence and vir,~·jnal E,¢Xl1ality. Such ,,,\rrived b~hv:cuteness is 'a c6mn\Orr ptvctke among, oabaret nosti$ses, I ~ en rega~dy in -tde0ston coromeidais, and is car.efully fostered in I ,p,IO'S legends of teenage girl TVsingers"kno\V'D: as uiaO~.singers.'), '. "Idol singer,:>" refers to a phem~mehQn that hegan In Japan in th.e IY(IOs as a r.e,sult of the Qyer:whelmi:n:gpiJp:ularity.0'£ Ame;t.~€,an muslc 11\ 109 'Y0\.!.Rg people. Because ettlaLity Western-style n:l_usidans ·and, 1111.1TS Were,~.tm .Htfe,. the burgttfJrting new 'teleyision iJl:dus,try b~an Gl'e'IIh,~entenainmenl"<Stafs vittuaHy oy~rnight t~1 hell"a~traCct:yiewets, The 111ln1nryfocu.s (i)f this effort \V~ the systelllap~ §electien of rather pute MilI in their early teen'S WblO were' then put through.. 9.-rigt.;}rot1s~ta ize.a 1111 C$S tQ reach diem a s]?ecifi<::liUy G;horeographed form to f@Ik~w while Illl:ing and lntt!:t'l1coog with the au'dl'erlrre. , Smndardchateogtaphy tOT each of the ~eenage singers 'tonsisre-a of a , w J,l)M€li~~ steps s,er1€shi sitnple h~XI~movements, allofwhic,h re repeated enille$:,:;ly during' perfbtfuane:es,. TheiI'!:stan,t TV st:m:s Ill! lkcd and .acted like, cu1i~Littl~.wimi"ur:: dolls. Many gf the\'tl.' were par," 1I1~dy censptcuous ro foreign viewec<s pecause they.haa ()fi.e :d! more I I rlupping teeth-H<lQil'1<:H1ally r~garded by the Japanese ss 'a beauty

~a a

Cen~ri~ of COIldit:kmingin the right kind of ciotb.irlgand in.thestyle of wearing ft"'nlaHe t~e Japanese- extraordinarily sensitive to apparel, its style, color, and quality - a, sensipvjEY thatremainsan important part-of 'the mentality and c@nscio:t1sne:s.s.o{ ;present-cia,)' lapane~e'; ,
This 'a:fitude :oward clotning carries overtnto ali' kinds of apparel,

IIl11r~1perhaps

I~'w f the 13- and 14-yeaJ:l-old .girls hatlteally goad voices auG.tnostc WI IC poor singers, but that was .fi\:)_t the point, They were !lSe1e~tedand 11m kog d to represent role models, br' "id:dls," fot the milt.i(i)J1,"> of I'ee;pIt! I II who

because i~ was soe:qtU1.'JlVtl.

.

from ~usmess .SUitS- to sportswear. Th€ kata far dressrn;g combines With t~e kara of pta:ctidn:g or playing tennis or golf or whatever, making it Ylft~~ly ~anda~ry that the p~TllQIl dress "right" for the game, meaning the ngp,t da'thmg as well as the "right'! equipment. Skiers whe are ?n the slopes for the first time do not feel right unless they are, dres,il,ed1.1k;e~rafesslcmals and are sporting brand-name equipment. flrst-tnne tenrus players want to look exactly like the worldfamous stars who play before the cameras at Win1bl'don, M rchandt r of weari~~apparel in general nd portsw ar in fI rrl III "I III Oil w rh sp r s quipm nr suppll rs, I'll v t ken full dvunlu 01 th·" ulrur I
(unliT

were targeted as customers for their tonceJ,'tS'afid rec(,)rdilig~.

p kagers of idol singers knew exactly what they were doin-g. The sy.SIt 111 b • me huge uccess, and it c nnnues todas. There is a fresh crop III "new fAces" each year, witb most of the "older" girls going hack to or .. IIhtmy C re r s high sch 1 students and later company employees, IIII' I bh 111 of virginal freshness gon by rhe tirn they are 17, II )IIP\l11 n Infontll', lite kind of b havior ohm h s b eL1 traditionally ~ III IIl'd hr m .n In rhd r la I( 1111 wlrh w In t), pnrtl ularlv \I, Ih III ! t Itll' t'ut n 11111)'Ill I ndl'l!h In 1Il11~tWIlI1J1 ' 'R Whl'1\ men ~() inm IIIL~ lllilll1r I 1111 It, wlIm n lIIl1111111 i IIV 1111'l H u llllwi 1I~ mh', wll\ III •
I II_ Xl'I'l II'

in rhclr mmkt'llllU

II

upun.

I h'~r"lIiMI i~It ndo, \u Inl;l

It',! Ir

1')1,

62

Behind the}ap~El.ese Bow

Itata in Japan Todaw

63

This cultural rdle-playing of infantile innoe.ence liy Y(ii).;!.f1g Jap.anese women ana J a@anese. men of anY age is very conspicuous toWesterhers who tend to see it in a very negative sense. It is one of tpe reasoas whv Westerners have tmditiQuaUv rtp.derestiJllated tij<e sophistication" rnaturity, and

anility' of the Japanese.

Foreigners who see the growing number of W~stetniz.ed Japanese ~s} n alysts f~l'rthe internationalization of t~e country are in fa~ a lon,~.~Blt, I • pite their gmwifig numbers) n:rost l\lf these pea,ple. remam. o.u~uie of ,11 pale, isetat.ed in their own IlB,VCT-Ueverland. What the,., ~nte ~nd Iy, usually in English; generally goe~ no further than thert fbrelgh
111

The Shikata of Being Japanese
A sense of uniqueness' c.qntinues to permeate the ]!'lPane.se, they feel cl:iffereat not only l;lepause Qf their his~ticaL isbiation the protective bamer Fresenteu by tbeir languag{!, but also because :enough of their kata-ized culture remains to s.et, them apart in a variety of measurable

ana

In.ter:estingly, the Japanese are far more susceptible to ~~.stetnizatio~ Ihun foreigners ate to:]apanizl:ttiol1. TW~!lI, three years oflivrn,g abroad IS IIh en enough to Westernize a Japanese to a CORsiQeribk degree. Forh~J\ers"often. live in Japan tor twentyQr thirty yeat:s.without any noticeIIhl. [apanizaticn of their c'h:arac~l' or personalit:;y, . There 3Le~O doubt a number of reasons fb;r die Westemer',5 rmI1Ilmity (0 Ja~ani'!;.atiQn, The kara €ul~u.Ie ofJapan is tOQ intricate, subtle; d manding, atu} group oriented 'te.be a[fpea.lin'g to mast foreigners. The V I m igalsp w exclusive that generally outsiders are n:Qtacce~ted lind. r any circumsta'nces, and the feW foreigners wba-do make a. serious

~l lence.

.

'Ways.
Inroads made by We~ttern (primarily Anrencan) ctiltute on.japan, and the flQtiQn gaining grcund' among the Japanese that they must "jnfernationa!ize" (become less. Japanese) in order to :sta;y on gt\qd ter,tns with the w01:ld, presents; the- Japane5e with a dilemma that has divi61ecl the COl\DI;ry into twa camps - those who want to hold ,onto their traditional uniqueness, and those, still in the minority, whe are making a genuine ef£Qt:t to ad.gpt mere Westt:~ ways of viewing and doing things, However, m-os.t of those who do appreciate the Wesfem mind-set, and understand how and when it is ady:antageQ).ls, ate not so blinded that they renounce the culture of Japan our-of hand. Most are quick to point out that the apanese system remains superior in, p1any ways. Cempetirion, betWeen the Japanese aad Western systems is fierce and shen results in cQatradktions and ,conflicts among the Japanese. Many often have two personalities - a tqldiQpna1 Janan~~e personality and. a Western personality. Some are practiced enough to easily slip from one to the other as the occasion demands, but many such people readily admit that hmotianing' in their Western persaRallty4'; a serious strain that

flnr to Pecome "[apanese'' are rebuffed. , Many Japanese. companies that assign staff overseas go. to extraordinary le~ths to help them maintain their Japan~sepe~s ~hiI:e abroad, includes a massive amount of conuftuntcat10~1 {'ar ee10M that IW~'CI.ISar;y for strictiy business pUfPose:s. SPine make frequent trips home ,I t are more to sustain personal relations with their'tOlleagues than to

nil

n

nduct

ntil the late 19808, part of the kala ot being Japanese was an almost
belief in

bus-ine-58.

.

J

idea that entry .into the Japanese ,marleet .by tIl 'ign companie_s should be -tightly controlled an~ ~ted, ~es~ecn:ve III 11fly benefits to the] apanese consumer 'ot anyp,bltgatfans. Qf reclproclty lhe Jnpanese might nave fer the _right to sell their 0wr: products abtoa? S, III today when confronted with this type of attitude and behavt.or, 111111 y Japanese will typically claim that die }apaIiese do not .nee~fOrelgn LlIl du t , foreign products are not suitable .for Japanese, fQreign corn-

uulversal

the

pili

can leave them ~Nhansted.

s dtsrup; the harmony of the japanese marketplace, aru,i so on. lt Ih pas ,opposition to foreign-made products 'ertten:ng the Japan . In Irk ra i ionally t k a variety of practiced forms. The govern\11'1

Extended exposure to Western culture also generally "taints" the Japanese to the extent that they have extreme difficulty r· verting their.japanese character. Some become so Westernized they slmply c nnot change back. In th rn re traditl n I bu in nJ~ hmal .lds, they are 06 en shut out compl r Iy be liS' tIll' k r ! J I I I l" W.y

\

J

I

(lomp

I d,

1111 • I

n~ I ploy w to del y thing, by B. king qu sti ns, by d • "t IIllhl II r· tlllylnB," wlll In rh Inel1nclme they were

ny lnvolv d gen rallv would nat oppose a specific product I rll luc

urln
l

up

II
t

1\

d m ntiR virruallv b elute

clu lv

1)'.

,~I r hll I 11llllJ8L I R

wh

I 'I

ver r t' hi W~ hlP~ 11 .. In plmll
1111'01 I 1I

11

11111.

By

rued In w(' II tI
pi
UIll

111111

64

Behind ~he J apanese,

Bow

Rata

in

J apan T6da~

65

-against japanese di,strj,hutGrs and suppliers ta prevent them. from eoQPeratingwl~fQreJIDl :fimr&. Ari:ot~et .ploy that alleged!~ ~as been common' ampng ~fge japanese, oompalUes is to, c®ntt:abt wjm fot.eW eQ!l1paaies in similar ,Of' relate ed Iines of; busine5$ to tiistlribute theft products in Japan, then severely limit the distribution to prli!veQ[ the p;rOdlm~$ trOpl bec~mingsel;tOl).S Cflmpetirio,n. .. Many j apanese 1:i'>dayhave. overcome thi~ antifbmign produtt~yndrome; .but the majOljty ,e(:mtif~ue to heliev6 -that; iore,ignptodnets, in general ate not suttal,;lle' for th-e Japanese-mal'ker until th~y have been properly JapaniZecl.· This feeling goes beyondany,t~lip'g having te do wirh size, de;sign, gr quality, It is aft innate $'VtJIptom that gees back te the f;!xd1:ls.1vityof their kat::a-ized c.ulrnF€ and serves them well in their efforts to "protect' the'lapan&Se marketplace, '

In the same way~ the lack of fo:mt and dis:Qrde:rthat the J.apanese ~r~ eive in, the thinking and behavior of Amerioans ahd other Westthnet:s Is seerr as euljnral a.ns personal ~ilirrg.lt is <U'SQ one of the~keYteasons why the Japanese oonsitle"t themselves ihhetendy sllpenutm fbreigners.

a

Dealing with Foreigners
The Japanese have historieal1y been unable to aoitep.t·n'on-lapanese iUllo Ih ir so~il\lty. This intqlera:J)ce goes beyond both race and language. I rsonsel Korean Ok. Ghinese -anc'{'lStl'Y who ar-e physically ~q6il'lticalto the Japanese and whose families have lived in Japan forgener'ation:s ana IIn~ tetallias~in;dlate:dJnt~ tlLe<e:ulti:JT~ atenet acceptea as Japanese. The nan-Oriental person 1i¥mg in Japati,da!,ienor not, is natiltall:y more alien than Oriental persensof non-japanese ancestry\ The idea bf (.nucasia.na or other races f:jeco~i:ng 'JapaD.es-e" 'is unthlnka,blel The must ever accorded to them is JapaneSe cidte.nship. As a result of such eultnral di.serimiflation,the japanese have devel~ll d speeiilc ways of(,le~!r with fbrei~er.s, d~pencling 'on eiscumRi unces and the category of the foreigners involved. These wa¥s consist u nttitudes and k;at~ for de;almg with foreign, dipl®Dlqt(i anfl.:pplidcians, Iluldnesspe.ople, tourists, sronenffi:\; 'ana residents. Reg'ilrd1ess the citrumstance or who is invoived, tbe fundamental factor is that the n-lnttonship involves a p:on~Japanese. In the Japanese scheme of' tHmgs a foreigner is a non..J·apauese. first, ,III Individual second, and possibly a business associate third, This, subtle ~I 'rlmination permeates Japanesetliin:king, and behavj.or, some €If it III,' nsci usly and some of it deliberately contrived. The [apanese claim ih II I h y do not discriminate against anyone. Their positionjji that they u (1 panese one way and everyone else another way. They d€) nbt' It'l'ollniZ' this dichotomy as discrimination. • 'I'h' Japan do not themselves as antiforeigrr,er in the usual sense I till' t 11. 0 truln tin nalogy, h Y SI!! themselves as apples and

Behind the Bamboo Curtain
There is no great myst!'!ry behind the sYfl),bois tlaat conceal Japan from the outside wCirlt;l- 'OJ' fpr that matter; prevent the Japanl::sefioin seeing the outside world .as it, actually is. Kurt Singer,. an ed,u~aWr~~GOlilamfst who lived in jq_pa;nin the 193005',.is one tlfIl1a"rw wao have Flb!e'dlb.at t;be Japanese ate hald to undeliSMnd not because tliey are complicared, but because tbey are so simple. Of CCOUTse,Singer and these other observers go on to qualify' what they mean b¥ simple, In this 'case they are referring to the fact that the Japanese accept as normal contraqictions ~nd chaos that other people consider irrational if not mad. They go onto say that the japanese do not meet conflicts head on and fight them. they avoid them .by cornpromise or by ignoring them. They add thar c,ha~acteJ;istically in Japan, it is more important to avoid conflicts than to eltrninateevil, Public behavior in Japan, which is usually all the foreign viewer can lie or understand, is designed to maintain harmony and allow tim for

or

hlr gob

worke

II

1ehlnd th
J).I.I.

scenes.

4ul kly or ~tly re lvcd y 0 I IIA' d ( I II' wn II, ird,

nr

II 111111

Thlnll th 1111 'I It

t

c nn

I

lin

il tl 'y

b

qtl
['II

i

,"'

p~C1plC' l~ onm Ilh rd I

th

11\,

k

'pill$(
I II

til. rwc apart is jus comrn n
1

rul rrenu II~, .nl r

I JUPOI

J

J II lin •

8

Y u hav ro h horn \ L1 filII uhurnl

66

Bebin,d the Japanes~

Bow

K;au in J :;tp,an 1:ooay

67

tmplicanensof the word. U says [apanologist Ken Butler. It is neces::;aty to add to this that the candidate for full Japanese-hood must also we }$ea member of Japan's own Japanese mihnrit)( caste (burakurnir0 whose angestQr.gshu.Jghte:red animal§ ana worke.d with bides - which was J1Seo (Clr armer. . Few 'Caucasian residents of J<lpan eomglain very mpch apput being e>¥cludeti fri'lill j'aP?\irrns.es:ocrety. Authot DoMld Riehle, oneof the most perceptive observers oftne japanese scene, summed up the situation succinctly in an interview published in Ja;pan k Lived It: Cail East :and West Ever Meet? by Betnard Krishner (Yohan Publications, Tokyo). Richie stated that if he were a Japanese he wouldn't stay in JaP!illIor ten minute!'>. liThe weight ot (the) society on a person who is Japanese is, very nea\f:y,:' he said. The truth of the matter is life in Japan is only tolerable f('))" most Caucasian residents be_ca1{S€ they are excluded ftem the sQ<;,t€tyand tre:;tted d.iff.er_endy. The Japanese have traditionally had separate policies and rules for dea4;ag With £oreigne~si all originally desi@ed to prevent £Q.rej.gn pen-etrati_on into Japan or to minimize it and ke:epit under eontrol. These policies and rules naturally are aimed at protecting Japan's interestspelitica], social, and economic -'<}nd hav-e nothing to do with fairness or reciprocity. -while .generalizations ~out the Japanese kata for treatiI)g fe>reigt:lers are open to. indhdduaL interpretation, there are some instances when.itis obvious and undeniable. Probably the most conspicuous example, mentione"{:l.eSlrlier,s ]a,pape$e attitude!?, wward Jo~,t'lign tourists ana their i tracli'tjonaI Iltea:t:'tnc-nt them. As shott-term visitors whe are-in Japan to of enjpy the beauty of the islands and indulge in some of the attractions of the culture, travelers present nei:th~ a tlu;~at [lor a challenge to the Japanese. This so-called guest culture mcorporates an elaborate body of kata for the care and fe~rling of guests that keeps them impressed and happy for the most part, but also has the effect of isolating them from the realities of [apan. Tourists are, of ceurse, looked uponas guests of the country. The Japanese are past masters at providing a regal level of service to guests, believing that. ifthe guests fall to enjoy themselves and do not g heme enormously impressed with Japan, all Japanese It v 10 t fR • For ign visitors who ar recipient of typi al}n ne I" I I' d 1)' (I t 11

J

Encounters with all other nontourisr cafe.gori~s of foreigners cause the pane~evarying d-egEees of eonstemation. In the first -place, cernmunication is almost always inoomplete and often nil because of the language hattier. 1n the second place, cultural diffel'efi<;es in values, motivaticns, and m~thQds invar:iably result .in, further gp.ps in unclerRtan,rung. Traditional f'ears and prejorliecS'tJften intens~f:y;hese-£~ctQrs. t One t)f'the manifescatiQnsef)a,panese distFust ofncmtottrist feteigners
I.~a lirrgerihg tanate suspicion all foreigners who~ave more than a asual interest in Japan. This feeling, is a holdover from the tong era

we

of

when.everv foreigner rn japan was believed to be in the country for ttlr rior eventually harmful motives- The Jap-anese are generally unahle to give a foreign resiaent. studenq businessperson, or offic;;ialthe I. nent of the douet. Foteigners must prove themselves as friendly and trustworthy on a regula!' basis, freth the first meeti[lg on. Proof, gffriendshlJ? trustworthiness e*pe.cted fi:0ID foreigners by mony Japanese, particularly th&lse -wh);?me traditionally oriented, entaiJ:s II kind and deieee of beha:vior that often smacks ot fla;tt€zy. if not toadyism. Int~restinglyj !1lany foreigp.ers are so eager to -ito:Pf(i!,s'.s ~d please the [aparrese, f@l" one re.3son or another, that the-y go overboard in rh ir praise and actions even when it iSn't expected 0'1 aecessaJY. This latter tvpe of be.;ttay;ior is likely to come across as insincere, rcflecnng badly on the f6r~igner and:,comtitutiJlg yet am:otheI barrier ro

ana

ana

\11

d rstanding and goodwill. On the surface it would seem tlrn-t foreigners who speak Japanese and trl! practiced in .behaving in Japanese style W1i)uld he the least likely to l r "ate special problem~ for the- };apanese and have the most .sUCCeSS, in
functioning effectively in Japan. Thi;s ·gener::tUv appears to be so in IItl' -tty social mattersvbut in business it is often not tke c,<:J,se. 'The exI ri nee of one of my lifelong friends is typical. After substantial "Asian" rienee in Korea Taiwan, he arrived in Tokyo in the early 1950$, d [ermined not to fall into the familiar pattern of l:ieconring either a h nlcore Japan phile or Japanophobe. His .stot:y:

and

tremend u Iy hnpr

S8

1'\

i b om'!lr

II

nil of the

(llllllil

68

Behind the Japanese Bow

<IIpursl:ioomy,llrogram Elf total immersion for three'decades. japanism was my .thing; N0 Kan-Jiesc;:aped my "ever-ready n0t~bQQ~. The kaM fer any QC!:asiIDt\; iFrdlid~ng'haspftal ~isit;sandiuJ'lera·~.betame a' .kt:tee~eI;k reaction. I could lead business meetings in the ]apaRese language, I wljlS ali comfoTt£\ole on, the LeeCl~tna1Ofloor;ofa 'f:ahagibashi,geisha; i1lu as I was at"Keep~ CheJp"H~u,s~ in New:Y'OtK. I be1ie~ed I was the 0ptitJlum 'good' g'aijfn. I oe~tainthat I had disprov:ed the conventional wisdom ofttle 01d Japan hantJ::; that said that TIC? forejgner -tnc;:luding tli~td-geneIation 'PQm~again' Koreans - was. ever accepted in Japan. 1 was frequently interviewed by the media about my eocpe'riene~s,in: Japan, and asked tq Wfit;eand spe~about th_e,ql\lun,try GY pres:tig10u~'(!i>rgao'i1-atiofi's> "I felt that I had tea.ch~til the point that I could be both American. and japanese - Lbelieved thad had crQss:edthe 'gaijin !ineo!.;tn<it I was accepted in both socteties IDn.an.eC:JII.~l'basis. Given this mmd-set, ,I sstaiilished:a joint venture with a major japanese company with whom I had fl.ireadybeene.oing busine~s for severat years as a sUR,plie,J'.The idea was to maxim'be the pbtenlillii _of the patent~ t~G;hn:ol(])g.y y company m had acquired. My firm. owned 45 percept of the joint venture; the mJ.!,ch larger Japarrese company owned55 percent. III besanre llhe ditectbI of international @peptit;ms in the new joint venture, and my:_kmg~time friend and dritt:kfug buCidy from. th~ Japanese ';side became the managing tiitecatbr. [w{;is immediately relegated to ob'Server status, I was never asked t6 attend any management meetings. I med evel'ydllng I h(!d learned abol,lt the Japa:m.e$e way t1f ~0ing business - the ringi [reelkghee; formal proposal documents I nemawashi [nay, mah-wah-she; mf9lmal lobbyingl, nomi~n:iGati.on ~nG-me-tJ:ah~kay.-\Shone; drinking tQgether in bars] - the gamut of culturally sancaoaed practices. I btought in new ideas and hew products. Everybody was polite and acoommoaa,ting, but I was ot11erwj,s~ totally ignored, "The' new joint vel1itnre b@earne e'Xttemel;y p'rofitabte, so in that sense ] could not fault .rhe Japanese side, But I was angered and frustrated that after more than 'thirtY' years othusiness B~l'ien.cejn Japan I was not accepted as a team: member in a company in which I was a near equal owner. The awful truth came slowly, paitlfuUy. The old japan hands had Qe'en'!'ignt all along. Everything Was fine as' long as I was content to 6t.a;y on the outside and be treated as a guest. '''With this realization came an understandtng f rb

jnpanese have kata'fQI El:ealiqg with fQteigm~ts on th~ 'mngesof tfieit SU~ dcty huttiQt ael~J.~ptihgtnemvllth:in theit innetAzitde." This ~1d friend. diVides the Japanese k~tafot dealing with forejgrtt'!Ts nto three distmet ,cflteg@ries: gaijin nQ r:&,fiq~~ kaUt (guy,jeen .no Il-Je,ree.aht,sue~kie kah-tab) ---'ht:lw to handle, b:e.at, and deal with: torej.gtre~s in Ausine1i,SsitlIartan.sj gaijin no atsukae kata ~guy_jeen no ht-sue-kie kmhtah) -hew to bandle toreigner'& in day-to~d.ay ~\ll'S length ;relationships; and gaijin TID t:sukiau kata (guy-jeen no t'sue-kee,.;ow kuh-tab) - howtQ relate SQ(;i<}11v t fgre:ignm§ at patties and public

was

functions_
He

hould be aware :ofth"ese funaamj;!nt~lkata-and the elosed nature of fue II ietv, and [they Should] expect to He treated acCQJi'dltrgly." Foreign women in manag~ent positions in Japan often present a.p icial prohli:!mfor.}aJ9an'ese ,b,usiJl:essmen, who. genetaHy,hav:e no. ,tl.'mert,,· n e in 'trea,timg women as equals, much less as siI~riQTs. It: is ']i1attii;:u~ lurly djftkult feu: suth;men, fQ q,eal directly wit;Pf(mdgn TtUllale manager's ause virtually nOHe of the hallowed ways men in Japan GOmmlUJie,ate md commune with each other ~ USing r-{)ugh, language, visitiqg cabarets nnd geisha Inns, pl§W,ng golf ~ an c-xten:sion of business 'rela'ti.qllshiRSrc considered aRpFopriate fer women. The yolLt'iger fhe £@retgn hUsinessworuan in Japan th~ more likely §he is to upset the kata-ised
elder male japanese coUhter:parw. A young C~n~d.ian businesswoman, Wn.0 speaks very good japanese lUlU is a departmeat W'Rt1agtU in a major AtneriC,au !i;orppntti,0n in T oly€!, ,J she found that un- Westernl!Zed Japamrs€; bu~inesslTIen' had no fClea I ilW t treat her. She said that when she took a younger, junior Japanese 1'1llplo~ee with her to meetings thftse bhl~e$:ttlen wou~~ direct: ali sf dIcit eonversation to the: Jq:pahese person, 19neii:ti:g the fa:ct that the [unIt \I' employee referredall questipns and deeisigus t~ .her in Japanese and I r sponded in that language. 11 is same young foreign woman, who had majored in kHm stuilies ,lIld the J pan se language and spent time in Japan. on a scholarship p Ir fa uolng to work in Tokyo, recalled her earlier attempts to Inte, till' 11t J [l I S{ I t:y. ,IWh n I came to Japan as a student I lived h1 n fI lly, r ke only J 'POll " wen by Japan se n me, 111111 d 1I11flh 'tliU Cl n~ I 11x r l t h I" part f J IV 111, Ir I h r d III y. I I w ., 11 rift run 11 If lin nil l ld r [J 1 II I h"tll1 1I11 Illy 111Illy 'Mv ( nd,t I ~tdJ, 'II lsn't II PI' 'liin l'"
quilibrium

aade~ "Anyone consUilering any SpIt of eommitment to japan

at

for becoming Japan phile
rhos who have not bccorn t mrntbnr l·hl.'Y on never

r Japan ph b s. TI .J P 1 )r h I .~ cl 'cpty ·nl.JUf:lhtnvolv J In II ultue n h· IL l'l'pll'd IlIlly hf' til Iln' 'II lin 'II, The

J,

70

Behind tlie ],apanese Bow

~ata ill ] apan Leday

7,I

Be£;al1seari::l:ihary

Japanese

tQ e_ftteme~ in tr;ying to explain the situation, Sometimes their attempts to rati0mi1ize How Q' fofeigner could come to kfi~w and use their oultute are 'btza)::re. One ,of the more common tationl!IiZatious is that the forej;gner 'is aetuaUy Japanese despite hIs ()t appear8,l'l,'e:e. If this self-induced illusion is sllattered, they are disturbed. Iltisatsb characteristic of,the Japanese t~ refer to fOreigners who know Japan well as wak(l;risugiru (wa:h-kah~ree-sQ1,J-gheefree), or -as "knnwing too much." The term is frequently used in a friendly or joking manner, 'but it neve,rthelecSSexpreS$es the built-in feat the jf!,p'an!'lS,'ehase ()1 ~ing exposed or oocoming understandable TO outsiders. [apanese re"luirements for c.ontinmmsly proving one's loyalty and tommif!ment to Japan is not limiteti te ft!>reignert;, The Japane§e themselves must constantly reaffirm their japaneseness in rrurnereus waysby follQwing t:ertaitJ: eustoms, eating certain foods, takilig acceptable positions on issues, and so bn. This" reaffitmati.on is- berh private and public and is part of the Japan'ese process of maintairiing, their identity and mental health. ' One of the most controversa] issues mcihg]apan today is the way they treat foreign residents, especially these' who have migrated to the C(OlUnWil1e,gai1y,to flnd jobs. I Was among the "first few; foreigners to be hired fU:ll-t:ime though not as regular employees with benefits - by ~ Japanese companies following the end ef World War· Il, By the tnid~ 1950s several h.un(fr~d Eng1ish~speaking for:~igriers had beep.epga:ged by Jaganese firms on a temporary basis, primarily as English teachers, wrtters,aRd editors. This pattern waste, conthrne for the next two €l.ecad~sor so,oywhich time there was growing pressure both internally and externally for , Japanese companiestt) at least make a tokenqtQye toward liberalizing their employment practices. The growing Intemationalieation of business in Japan on I!h~tuanufactusing, retailing, and exporting levels made it irra.reasingi:y ebvi.ous that many J ap'aitese companies could clearly benefit

bicultuwforeigner:s

typically have truuble accepting htlinguru, whom they have come to know arid like:. they. often .

go

h~J

from having S(;)!Ue forejgnemplovees. At the same time, negatjve publicity 'about Japan's closed-door emthe japane e han ahy dl dvanta th 'Y 1)1iUhi MU~' ,'( III ploying ~ r ign t ff. Th nnd other fu Iot'~ 1'( mh II d II

in a growing number of J apanese firms employing one or more {m:eigners, ometitr).($ in ke'Y'P9sitions, but more often OR a tbken basis. Given tHe built-in etRnocentrldty of th~ Japanese culture, cerabined with very [eaLislic pclitieal and social con'Side.:ratlell5, it is uitltke1v"that Japan will 'eyer open its emplo;ym.ent dogrs more than a hairline crack to xpatriate foreign workets. In a. tygicaLbut strqil'l.ed effort to downplay the natural Japanese antipathy toward expatriate. fGlreign wot.kets in [span, the news media in recent year~ have noted that descendants of Japanese who emigrated to Brazil are weleotbe clespit~ I:he fact thanhey \ U uallv cannot spea~ Japanese. and are not famillar with the Japanese way of doing things, , Japanese Amerteans who have been reMnmg to Japan in smail but ignifieant numbers ,since tine end of ~orld War II have never been welcomed with: oren arms by corp@rafe Japan. They have ~eJl treated. us curiosities, to be kept at arm's length, Japanese Brazilians who. show up in JaparCrecelve: the same kiu&oftte~mnen~. One of the several reasons given }j:ythe japanese for not rQutinely hLring fQreigners who have skills~they need is that stnce foreigrtlirs genetlIy do n ·r kriow and cannot follow the JapaneJie Way, they are unpreIi table and wOldd, cause more problems than they would solve, (ntere&t:l.ng_ly, thiSCJfCllSe is rapidly losjpg its justification, as more and til re of Ute foreigners se~in:g white-collar work it). Japan do speak [npanese and.are familiar with the culture. The clcse-kaittedneseand secnritv provided by Japan's web of kata h ve made the Japanese exquisitely, sensitive EO anything, unexpected. ·11,\y cannot stand for things to be 'lffij;!redicta:ble and that is one of the rCH ons why those whe are un-Westel'fiized arese unc~mfortaQle when de ling with (ol'eigners. 'Because they cannot predkt whetJoreignets are ~ ng to say or do, su~h Japanese are under censtantstress when in their pc sence. Th s factors are often further complicated when some olCier ]apa. are concerned because they tate spscral pride in. their Japanesend work very hard at it, sometimes to the 6xtent that therr ptide 111 r judi e outrun their common sense. Naturally enough, these

oplc ar

ployment policies in the international media began to d rrac fr m h country's image abroad, a factor that gen.e.rally Is fnr In rc lrnporranr ro

Ih.

the most difficult for Westernets
Of

to understand and deal

One H ··1 ng
nin

I iI

mUI Oil l LllIIIIIY I t I' I nrw II~II

lIfO r sid nr Ilf]upfln said th Japanese habitually rewhet th V fo • ony unf millar ltuIJ I-d I n Il1 r lily. "Kr

Kata in Japan T ooay

73

7Z

~hind the: Japlj:ne~,e Bow hMest human r~lation~ personnel Uiteet.ly inv01v~d witn:the U.S.spe.ak goo<d:6r passable Bngtlsh. The Ji,l@anese make sure that !'he ~oIntstudy programs s-~oruor~d b~ ~he mba!IS~af):tl (~reign of,fielf fIXe €01il,aucted in English. Practi$1J._y all pi ~he

have, in fafl1l'1 uaruti:p.QilUy been_-us~d. ttl'replace

shiWl,"

The same observer .aqaes. that the ~QCial tl!tiquette "he,papa:Ji€se devdoped t"(;) ~upRPrt th,e shikata_s;vstem d'"oesn't fit" in the modern world, bur ~b~t\Vi:thou~ kata th~ [apaaese are lost and do not kn0l\'hqwtQ 'behave. Iir?m a ViI ~ste;m, V1ewp'~int tIi~ Japan:ese have been, denurnani'led b¥
theq- deFep,de!l~t;l

he sa.id.

nfonnal comtersatiens

oetWe¢,tl

ib):'-eiga QfftGe and embass,y ptmonne1

at.

on kata,"

he added.

Ihe CQilt.11'1UOUS round of parties ate.-also in En,gUslil;" ThiS, make~ it possib}e:£@r]apanese ,diplomats to say. what the foreign stde likes to. heal', Hut to keep their e_Ommepts cemplet,ely divottecl from

Kata hi Politics
Not surprising1y, the' form <tn:i.iI. otder, of Japanese, l'lolitics follows traaitior'l.al pf;t~ter:rts df behaVi0t, meaning that the sys(et;n if; "based 'on ,gt~~ings; (factions) sather th~t'I- true pq,ltyli:n~s or clear pblittda-l principles, members Qf these tndiyi,dua:l grblijl:~ are arranged in a hieratoPIcal 0rcl¢J:i seniority and l(\)ng,~vity gen~ralLy tak~ pre:e:eaence Qyer chatacterand talent; and deds~3ns"me based en a cotf:Sensus'Within tne. £actioQ.S oratlloag them when the cooperation of ether f;lctioDJ> is
necessary. The large,~t. and ,strongest of the factions tend to'monopolize the ~s~~ons of. prl",Uege' and power, but-very, lit de auth®rit;y is, i:n:ve"ste_d in ,mdiViduals- or rn offices, OQvemtnett,t }%llicy i'I);a,_king on both a na tional :mdpre,£eCt~Ial level is mote Or less a grOlip effort with~ever-al groups c:;ontending a,gai11lst each other, while" the day-to-day adminiatran0n of the prefectures and,national'3£fu.irs ~~,jl;lfto bureaucrats. t This SY51:$ ObViQusly works well enough within the japanese context ~f things that it - along with the ~b('}le i';iultur-e=-has survived for a long nme, But it ranges from only p;:trcly effective to hopeless when trying to

the realitY of' the Japan~se attitude and position when itsel'Ve~ their purllose.Part of tEe ps;ycholom i$ that ');Yharevet they say in English doesn't' unto The s,_am,eps;y'cbology ~enef~~ afl'plies mall situations. Bilipgua} Japanese fegUtarly $'ay ~ d write all kIDds of things ill 15tiglish and other f reigt;Llahgua~es that they WQuLdntt dare express in Japanese. By the
me token

they. cust0marily express opirtitmS in J apanese ~hat are for j:al'aneS'e CPl'l&:u1;ng,tiO,n.. and mey'tend to bet:ome ver;y u~et, SUGh comments are published in other hmgua.g~s. Interestingly, die, Jilpanese generally; dQDot see ,anything itnDroral ll):F oppdn~ipled. ~11I sing thtlir Qommentsand behavior en the langlJ,?fl:e ther :are speaki:n~. Many 'readily -admit that such duplicity is necessary oecaU/te the Japanese ftld would ndet understfl;nd ar would get angry - or in otner (DIases,be, uuse the fOld-go side would 1:eae.t-in an undesirable, w,ay. ,' The Ia-ct@r j3,t p4ty in thts situation is that the: J,aI(li1:lese petc~ive iheir nwn reality as tliffere,:1.t frQl)1 {o,£,etgnEe;:J:lity, ,that' each, ill lUi 9W·n di11\ nsion, and that rhetwe u;: either -~ficalh~df(\lI. or dang~rous. 111 Y art .able to e€lp.sis,t~nt:1y CQntrol most meeti.1:tgs ~ith their fQtei~ ~Ilunterpatts because' the .foreign sid~ I,lsually d9CS n9t~pe€l.k Japanese well enough to c.otnmunicate fully in the langua~e ~d eitpe1" aceepts

trictly when

nrbd:hg-

ts

what the Japanese saY0r reroflins frustrated.
rte of the most blatant
I~W

bl1rrier-s u~ed in.

J.ap~ to keep foreIgners

,

.

0,'

deal with, international
and the f6reignside

affairs because there is nocenrral loeus of power with it-eftectiveLy. . At the' end @f the 19805 a series of sdarrdals involving ranking politiClaUS" and businesspeople resulted in a naqonal outcry for a reformation of the Japanese pq1itiGal svstem.}mv real change in the system will, f
is unable:"toti:~al

y from the inner workings of politi<:.:s and ilte ,6e.cinQ~Y a~~. the nolin ou "press clubs," which traditionally barred foreIgn JournalISts frbro II V ng equal access to news sources. Ead'l- of the k~y u;ews s.qUfC.es in the
from the prime minister'S office to major ectporati:onS', has a f sel.ected members of the Japanese press. ForI ou nal I'. c uld not join the clubs and until the 1980s could not It nd p • 5 nf r nc 'Ii arranged by the dubs or the news sOl.lrces.IIul'lI. h y were rt ~ Rl'ro,ge:d pectally for the foreign
t)

IIUry

I

club made up

course, have to evolve along with the changing culture ov r a l ng period of time. Some of the formulas used by [ap n's for 'iJ{n oftlc 'In t8 r In i n with the American mb RSy In Tokyo rc 11lJ rnr,lv 'l' hu lh' ultur

II

II

TI

I '.

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10

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III' I'll

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ce

74

Behind the Japanese Bow

Kata in Joplin T xl Y 7 does net travel.well, At the same time, Japant1!seculture easllv can be di scardedin a short period of time! while Western culture is difficult to hed. Life within the core of Japanru;e sQcie~ is indeed like a silken web, oftentimes incandescently "beautiful to the outsider, but bonds ·of steel to Ihose caught up withirl. it. MQ§( of Japan's perceived intemationalitatdon Or Westernization 1.5a fncade that teuches the 's"kii:'Lbut' does not penetrate it. The Japanese may dress Western and eat Western, and occasionalls behave Western, hut fot th~ m0$.t part they continue to think and act in a distinctively Japanese manner, They are very se~itive about these di'fferences and mment on them constandy. The Japanese automatically e~p-re,sswonder when a fDrei:gper demonstrates even the smallest Ja'Panese-like .skiU, whether it il? the Japafl.es.e language or the. use of chopstieks. Their reaotton is an tns.tinctive, kata-ized response thaJ eventually becomes very itritating to longtime foreign residents, especially t6 tEose who db speak the laI'!£ufl.gewell~nd have beet). llsi:ng chopsticks routim~ly for seve-ral decades. Said one, "It
ma kes me feel like a trick monkey;" Thi.S:~tereotyp_ical reaction of the Japanese is ano.th~r reason why many foreigners have. traditionally r.eg.u:ded them .a's inteHeGtu:aUy II ferior.

jom::traliSts would .mes] likely misuadersrand the statements and Ilol~cies
of the busines~ and government I!po~espeople because their C0mtn'enl"s were .made for a Japane~S-e audience; since- feteigners did not understand l"HeJapanese way, of dQing thing's, the journalists co,uld [licit:: ~ccur,ately teport on. the proc~edlngs and weuld Create problems b-ellWeen Japan '·and the wor1d at layge; and so on. It took nearly forty years _of pre~sure and fundamental changes in Japan's culture before this extmordumty barrier was evenpattiaUy

breached,

The Layered Culture
In the Japanese schetrfe ,af thing-s, .as .alre:rd:v menticned, aesthetic -values, harmcmy, and maintenance of the correct order elf thirw; qm take precedence over w_hat the W e~t te(lds to regard as ethical .and moral prihciple's. This, concept underpins manl' of the political and business policies followed by Japan today that Westen;ters view' as irrational. The built-in need for a.voiding'disru(ltions of anf kind also.is pardy-re'5!J9nsible f@f the Japanese babit -()f importing foreign. ideas and thing~, categorizing them" and keeping {hem separate 10m trad'itional Japan. In,is approach has allowed them to ,graft layers of foreign culture onto their 0Wh without losing their OWl1. distinctive ways. }apqn ha~ never im:PQftedW e$~ern techlwl\')gy With the idea of changing'its &ysternto lSe more like that of the West. Its importation of Western know-how was first based on the Qonc~pt of protecting, Japan from inroads by foreign pO.¥lets,and. then, later" en continuing tID enhance its competitive position en the international scene. Despite Japan's copious borrowings from Korea and China in the past and th~ad~n€.ed Western nations toda¥~ once the Japanese have imported an Idea, a custom, or a product, they transform it into something that is Clifferent, with a certain [apaneseness that is always present. No sensitive person can spend more than a fe,w days in [apan without realizing that Japanese culture has a style and a sense f its own hat is' n sigtV.£lcant factor in the strength of the country. Foreigners can live a lifetime in. Japan, however, 11 J n [ .fully lind rrand how til [apane sy rem work fI~ w III" It lit .. 11111111' culture, unlik rnu h f Am rtc III ulru ,I I II uh y. upf'-Il II I III" 111 I

til tonal Japan~-se culnrre t(;)ntmues t.o have on the average, person . .'One

There are many daily examples

of the extraordinary

hold tb<)_ tra-

o the most telling is: when they demonstrate an innate inability to II cept even the slighJ;:est, invisible differences between a "true" J apan se and arrvone who has been touched By sonte,aspect of non, Japanese

h fluence.

When Japan was forcibly opened te commerce with the West in- the

18505 by the United Stares, the: Japanese ve11' quid-Iy made a clear_disllLl ti n between what they wanted to import from the West and:what t h.y wanted to avoid. They saw thCIl'l$;l-lves as far more cultured than W steners and far superior in spirit. l-fut .se--rlously lackmg mae.~demic rnd chnological knowledge. They immediately began a masslve p ogfflm f bringing in foreign educators and technicians to help them pdust.ri.alize their economic infrastructure - a stupendous feat that was II' 'un I'll h d in I s th n twenty years in large part because of their 1;r r 11I)d l o , lill nlt1". 1· w (I a that they were to repeat beIWl'Nl 1945 und 1960, rhe p 'J' n I wh 1\ rh y r hu!lt rh lr ec nomy from Ib' Isl"ilU WeJ1IW1JII. I u wlrh rhe m v II offnriJl1r h.
I

,

II

11111

1111

IIIW,

Becoming International
the Jap"anese, are acutely aware that tPew eC~l)ll'r1.ic.:suet~ss i$ based on maintainibg friendl,,, c;Qoperative reIatienswith the Urlited States and li;tlIQpe, The,£ ate even mot~ aware Cif the, cultural chasm t:hatSBlil8rates

4

tlfi.e:mfrom the West. In a brQaq sense r):ley Teal.i2e they must change their way Qf thinJaB.'gahd d9mg thing~ in order to keep polifical and 'trade frictk'p- within manageable levels. In addition ((l thisecon6rnieand political pressure to chaQge" there' also is. _growIng sod~l pressure

Kata in Business

emanating from those"who were born after 196(9 and have-nor been fully [apanfzed, These combined factors have resuh;ed- iR' a-m~)Vement that is generally
r~ferre_d tp as

kokusat-Ka

(koke-sie-kah]

or "intematiqq,aUza;ti;oIl,"

which

is a catchall
attitudes,

phrase covering any move aWaY :(rtlm traditional Japanese
and. style'S. At this stage of the movement
r

behaviOI,

it is more

style: and fortn than substan6e. But among thp young, in P;ll1tkul9T the desire is real enough, and they spend ~nortr'lQUS amounts of money and time engaging .:in "inremarienal" activities that range froms_tu(;lfing English, trave:Hng abroad, and eating, W estem,style. fo~s to sh6PPirlg in
exclusive constantly boudques.

Learning the Roles and Rules
Knowledge of kata that apply in busine~ ami profess-Jonal re.latiollships, III modem ..Gay lapan,along with skill in us~g them_ ano bemg ,aqle to. pI' .d~ct their effeGt_S, is especially critical for' J.apanese ~s well as f irelgners because it 'is 1ft the busil;less and protess'Dn)ll worlas th~trhe k ua culture is the stt9ngest. Key kata in these areas) more orote,Ss In the rd t in which they come int-O l,Jla;y,include tbe follOwing:

Clashes, between the, old way, and the new "inremationa]" waY are recurring themes throughout Japanese sQciety, 'WI:'i-3t is

emerging tS,l new Japan Chat will be a long way from the ok!' one, but it hor be .a We5:teFn one either.

wm

Aisatsu no shikat4· (aye-sqt.sue no she ...klli-tah).
This is the formal japaRese,way df gl'eeting at adt:rrowleclgl_ng @t,q,er ple, Alsatsu bv itl?elfis usually tr~slaJ'.ecd as-a.greeting, but when ared 11 . full form it covers an,ahu,ndance-ofl1p.portaf):t. social etiquette, from III nf4 third parties as go-betweens -;ana :bowmg .'ana :e~t'i;t'U1rQging.r;taill_e I urd ) to using the right level of langu~ge at the tnght -tune" . . .. . Th initial alsatsu as well as subsequent behavior IS directly m-

~i'

ItIll' , d by y
hll II
I Pit
c

ur wn perceived status in the sense of social class and r pI ~'ssl nal r nk, g) and so on. These factors playa role

'l'mln
!'uWllllh
II ,

whelm you
IH,

qUAlifY

to meet, how
Ir

yOLI

can and/or should beY
II

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nd

tho

rrrn

t

r spon

en

ep

fr

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III

7

Kata in'13usiness 79 78 "Behind the Japanese Bow nntacts in which natm.al physical etique~te is not possible. It is, still '1lrnmo:t:x ftll; people who have D€en 'fuilled in Japanese behavior fwm I hlldhoOtito-1a@w, some1ime~ yep~ated1y, when they me talking,tosqme1111 '

. There are numerous 'Occasions when Q.usincsspeople and other p;rQfes~ sionals are exwe.i;~edte make (ocmal aisatsu visits to supp1i~ts, clients, and otb'e:rs with whem they,have a relationship. These oecasions include -we?d.ings) deaths} New 'Iear?s ~[ebra:ti~nl>, a change of positions, when serious ~ista~es. or aClii,id,ent& oecnr, and when transfeuing 10 a new

loeation-.
~tsatsu . chang~ wish the cireumetances. S~me call for the presentatton of guts er condolence money; othflrsinclude c.ongratulation,s, 'for-roaI expressions of appreciation, and SG on. All I!'t;qui~e use of '\:raTious levels of Jwigo (kay-gq), or f0l.T11allapatleS8,the rlghr kind of demeanor, and the right degree -of howing. . Aooomplishing' .aisatsu pFoperly is an exercise in, a broad epecrrum. of ]a~anese culture,. from ~he kata-tred way the language is used, the appro~ ~nate ~one:of voiee and fadal ekpre~sion, and the JX7~itiQning gild moving of .the body, to me underlying Coofud:.an phUbS'ophy gf respect for auth~ty and s~ruoritt. Skill in ~ffOrinin~ aisatsu does not come easilv, It requrres considerable knowledge and deliberate p.ractioe. 1'\.isa~stland its mle- in Jap;ane:se pehaV,idt sfiauid ntJE be im.1ored or taken lIghtly by foreigners. It is a: vital form of communication and as much of a skill as is professional acting. '

Oenwa no kakek,atd (dane-wah.ne kah-kay~kah-.tah)
This is literally "how to use the telephone," which includes not only what fOU say but how you say it. business anti other formal situations the japanese are acutely' sensitive te the. use of language because both the level of the language and the way it is used are diIej:tly related to the social and professional ftl',l"lkof the individuals involved arid to ma}fitIDf\JJ,1g pmpell position and harmony. Before One- Gao determine which level of language and which tone of voice is, appropriate for a given ,situation, it is necessary to know a lot about the other individuals - their age, company status, educational level, social status, and so on, If you telephone someone you know, you naturafly adopt tQe "fttght" kakekata, If, you are calling someone with whom you do not already have a well-defined relationship, it i imp rtant'that you use a relatively high level of language. Generally speaking, the Japanese will ace p n n- Jilp. n ' ~tiquette from unknown foreIgn t 1 phon !l'r If Ih l'oll· If l Ii" mag n ral sense, bur lh 'Y rernnin Ap l'lullv l·Il. I ttl ,I N nIl (I I

_m

on the phone. The Japanes~ generally will not do business of any kin~ With anyone whom mt>{Y ha\l'e not met. face to faee and establiShed a fairly close rehlt~onshi~: Making the initial contact by ;phone ~ to get an appoihtmettt hI tnttoduce YGw'self &lld begin the process: of establishing the ae'ce&sary r I tienship-> is ace@pced, but requites ('.onsiderable skill (espetiaUy hen the caller is Japanese) in the use -of polite forms qf 'the language, in x laining where and A.ow'YOtl got ~he ocher parq!s name, and why yQU r calling in the £trst place. Salesp~Qple have' to he esQecially skilLful in u Ing ppUte ]apam~se to 'avoid upsetting p 'peets" aria tQ get app;:>int. m nts with people theywaIlt to see. LiStening to on€: of these pelisbed l,r fe5sion~ on the phone is a coilt' e in Ja-panese R&yeholog:y. . . Foreign t.Gmpanie:s in [apan who use .de-Japanized female staff 1:0 In k.e tb.eir irtitial telephone qontaCts with Ja~anese finnsinvariably ere'negative image of their firms bef€lre tliey ever ,g~t neaa the Japanese they want t>0 meet. The ~ea'sbh far this Is-that these female-secretf\Iies QT lither female staff often either ignore the pQliteforms of Japanese speech Ihu are part of I$le~hone eticl~ette or never learned such forms in the Ilr6t place. This ufl~Ja:panese ~~havior i;> r,epugtlant to the etiquet~eI"II$ltive JapanesefIDd, instantly staIDF'S xhe for:eign company a,s both in_rflNltive and inexperienced in dqin;g, things the Japanese Way. Less IllI rant Japanese, are likely to label thi!l kind pf hforeigp." behavior as

"l~

I

.,

~.

J

Kaea LnBusinesH 1f tHe, foreiJPl Galler has aa introductiot; that IS "stro,flg" en0ugh, the Jaflg,nese !fniivldyaJ'S0peeO}ed wtU .pm:bab,lv ~'!re_hirn @t h~l' r,~gar:€Ue;ss ~f the purpose df ,di® ;tiles-ring., -If 'tne forfiigp ((1).r,. Japaneose repr,esenxativ,e) qille;r does" llQt have an miiQdJICtion to' a s{Aedfif? p~rs(')IL_, he er-she may be. CQhr{l!cted .tOsoD,leQue in. th~ "ge:nem,l a'tflll( depjU'tl1lent~ ~f the t0mpan.l~ wnicm 1iandb~s'.a-tTarie:ty of mi:Sc~elLari€ous a:ttfvItieSl. It 'is' much ~~ - a;pd 'e:x:~deQ_:_' that ~leJ~ no.d QAt in adv:an.ce whe! 1& i11. cnaV'ge

HI

bfthecit;

are;;l

131£otf::te:&t:.' i

..

occasiQns"!Lhe: minMtely Plie:SCJ,j.Qea: ano ~lize~ way d.f'usihg.]apanese hI n llu:iUher0£ .alms: exattingsu~enQIS:, Itt;:fttering t!.beqttter·party, avoiding giving \itfefiS~j m$::p:ta~g' nuttiiringhatmony, '~sta:01ishing soclal 5tatus - and, ,~ttLlh€S~ le.a~mgth~ 1istertf(t ip the- dank·. Abllil;y to use 1(ei:go ijenefalLy marKS Que: as ~it]g {'[,om a middle- 0 higher- class 're."t)iillY<$cl well educated. It is' vpluea cas both asocial and professiomil sImI and often cbnmbut;~s ~.ign:ific911t1y tQ one's succ S~, YOl,lng £enUll!! emplC'l)lees qf lar'ger Ja~an€se '~mpan:i:es'ate usually giv U

and

beft~fl noitl<e~ta (dane~,W,ah nQuu~kay-kali-~.ahJ ,N0~ S;!lFptisittgLy, there i,s als(l),'a :kata foransWerfng ph~e Galls;, [but fOrm IS 'f6Uowed v,avies with tHe -sfurtll~tds ~d trair:dng 6f'tb1e: in:9.ividJ:lq,l,s and 'enn1paIiieQ' GQn~d. Beeause C1:rUet.'fwe fi~t¥is:ibw ;pIflsettt, dliS ,hi one :ate~ w}¢,e'8 kara is ,6ften ignol'ed-by peQcP1: ho aF'e not con'trplkd qy their emp!oyt~r or their ,n~ w iSt9:ncl;ards. The; liigp.trth~§1'alllJS ,pr J",a:pk Q£ th¢; ea'llf!!r, the ltigher' ~he fOrm qf~(}lite lapa:ne-se 'tn'llt is, (n,pep~ootrom tM, 'perS€!u answering dYe p};tlDne. Dnlli the' statUs u£ t!he caller Is establish~d, it 1:5- .therefore i'rnpOl1'Eaut ,thcat 91 rtesp.e.tab(e ley~l t?f etiquette hw u§ed. One '5~.fdie' set? phra'Ses .used wi:ien :answerin~ telephone 'ealis" Itsumo Qsewa. ni tlcmeimasu {el~?SjJ;Le';.,m;l;)e @h~-sa_y;>wahnee nBktay ee~m~S'),js desi;gned :'fo~c(}yer almOst _any'sttua:tion. It means "~Ii/we -ate always ~ing l@9k:ed after by };ou.,," and is more or less, an '0.@logy in' this context. It also, h(;!,s' th,e-QotlhotaJ;:ioll of tlY;:Qu"te'ahvaYIl! n:e11"/ing._me/I').:s,f (ana we're gtatef-i.:ll). This way,: no' ihattet wtto'is ~ca-ni~g tot wna'te'v;er purpose, ·they are made to feel th:at. the call is' welcome 'and_that there is some oblig,ation tiD _,seF\{¢:liec-aH'e:r.·· t '. " . Female, staff members' of l:ao($~rcorporartoris have to be especially qJ;f(}fula,bout us~ng we groper; levelofpoli.te Japa,tiese when they' answer t~e pnone. TIi:eit' Q,wn male cQlleague~; 'all' well a~_male caners" pareiculartY. those of hi~her raUk, llpkall¥ judge them as well rhecompanv by how th~yan~wer tn¥gngn:e. '
flew eare:ruUy the' established fittt),(ts'hi: tw,~

trainiq.s
IlI1.d

in hmtlJ.shi kata 'in @Ider fi;?r thera-to r.espopd properly to visitor~

]apilnese &tt;nsitivi~·.to"€9rreG.t" s1?6eeh forms~ tone ofvoke, facial ex, pressio'n aha overall matitier led lQ.- the_,de-v:~fq'Rmelito£ precise guILI·, 1 lines .fbr eJ;l,ch:Qf these factors. The.re Is.a specific n{lfP'ashi kata for cv',y Ii,lrm:il sit;Jlatib(lthat\f$ies~id"ithe§tatus of the individuals concerned their se~,,·a$ei rank, rel;iti~~b:ip,ro each orner, ul1dso on. SQti;l:e~F ~he: re1atiGms'hip& that det:tltinine proper oraccepred haL1n~hl katll 'ate ob'li0llS' (llge,'diffe-r~n.ee~.,,s~x, and, <50 furth). Others are subd , In osder )lO divIDe the- proper H-afiashi ~a-CI tD'use, it is neceS5FUY lw kll0\\(, ,qr find, 91lLt- a§ quic;kJ¥ a§ '{.:o_uCB,n without gLving offense 111111· meantime-, what yaux n~ ·stilt-os is'in tefl1!-tion to the other person. Ex I hflngifl'g name cards among new busiliesscontacts is one of the kllY wuys the Ja]l.l,me.se idennfye:achother's status. The need to aerermine the appropriate hanashi kate 10 a new r 111.1 ionship is. Que of the reasons why advance introductions arc 110 1111 portant eo rhe japaoese. and why they go to such lengths to identify nny(Iue who contacts them without a go-between. Successful use of HI! I h . IU cedlng kala is directly related to hanashi kata. In company and formal settings it is almost always possible to' dill' IlIguJ&h between Inferiors and superiors immediately by the luuQlHlI:! ·lu'y use with each other. Relationships and behavior tn 8\J h HctthlR~ !lIllncdiBtety suggest a very strict military situation Involvtng ufA.:·cr un 1
1'11H

teleplioneGslls.

(hah-nah-she kah-rah)

k.f> noted above, h4nash~ kata" or 'the way one speaks, whtchmcludes vocabulary' as well as manner of delivery, plays an importnnt role III Japan's etiquette system, particularly in sernlforrual and. fornlfJllI nuu ems when various levels of kalgo r "pollrc .lnj;tlljIl't' .[11' 'p 'r, d, 0,) III h

ted personnel. I low well a [apanes (Of foreigner) knows and USt:N pml~~r h nnxh kruu is anorher yardsrick fur mcnsurin:g'uucation, culurrnl n [tlillpllllh IIWllt, soclal st.andlngt ehnrnc IN.·, nnd WllfJ h. Thll,.e who U,'l I'''P '('Iully ~k lied in thlti scci lnrr huv
p,Ir.I·il.
11 dVl1l1111J,lI'
II~

nnd

ufe

111 'nomlly

{'UV

-II .lfld

"n

H

hl!W

mm WiII flllv
VII

cl"l1luhl~ II v I ul .klll III

IWil 1Il0~' I d1l1 hLl~1c

111uh~JY

ml

hnl!!.!1

j\.Ull\-"1

[II k

·IH4J

1 hC'T

nUl
IIh'I

Hllr

82

Behind the Japanese Bow

~atain ~iness

83

eral levels of'politene~§ and subtlety within keigo. The 'Very highest level otkeigo is so esotetic,!:'h'<rteven few Japanese master it. Practicallyspea1c~ lng, it is almost another langUage .. As expecC'ed" there are 'also $pednc kata lot preparing anti delivering memes (memo no tori kata- may-moe no toe-tee kah-tah) and' for making reports '(ho.koKu 1l(J shi~aU1~ hoe-koe ..kuu ne' she-k~h:.ta.h). ,Another V'el1'subtle_but i.tnIhenseiy im.pottant; kata in the- Japanese Way is tanomi kdta (tah-no-tne,- kah-tah). Tanomi is related, to tanaml! (tah~no-muu}, whiCh is defined- in I#etionary (term!!_as "tq ask 10r, request, beg." As usual.rit has fa,rbroacler and deeper cultural implications than just asking Or begging for something. T ~nomi kata in~etP0rates- the ooncept qt mutual dependence 'and mutual benefit in, ~L gj~e-ana-take sense, and it is closely related to the nemq:WdSf'li (nay-mah-wah ... she;)5YStern or behind-the-scenes lohbying that the [aparreseuse in achi~Wng eonsensus OTJ_ inlportant matters. The broad purpose Qf n~mawashi is to create an intellectual and emotional environment in whi(:Ii everyone can willingly and ener.g:eticaLly'support a plart0tm or project, thereby greatly enhancing the prospects of success .. Nemawashi also is sometimes described as !"lantiag a seed and then UJ'l:Qffkially and dip'lotnaticaILy nurturing it by subtle, persuasive techn~ues to win support for the project. In one fonn or another, nemawashiis the basis f!:')t deciston waking in mosu Ja,pal,'t~se'com-panies, alth<Wlgb a growing number of internationally onented 'omnpanies are in .vru:ying stages of adopting top-down decision making to remain competiave in fast-m0vi1}g domestic.as well as f6feignma-rke-ts. Tanomi kara, if it is used ootteGcly; can be a powerful tool in' making sure that nemawashi works. In simple terms "tanomi-ing' is asking someone who can hardly refuse to do sotne;thing for you or help you achieV'e~s0me gbal bemuse they are in your debt, because you hold the key to their success or failure, because tb.ey want to build I,Ipobligation that they can. collect on lat:e~, and ,$0 on. It is also common to ranomu sometime who is in a position to help you and who you believe or hope will help yom because that indivldnal Iikes you or is a magnanimous soul whQ will he1p, anyone iTt, or she feels is sincere and deserves help. It is common practice for a bess to tanornu his employees when rher is acrisis or deadline that has to be met and x r rdln ry ffore i required. On such occasions the boss will rn t Ilk Iy b w an sa,

love pftnciple, which is the ide;rlized {€ll,ludation sf l:;t;panel'e society I uched on earlier, A gung~h~ tYped,! 'Per~t!mq'n,t:y ttl Ii Japanesf! company may take grear dlffie-ult by a supenor beeause it gives him a chance. fioshow off his spmt nnd abiliry, If he fails, hQwevet, Ris,reputation will ii,uffer and he will lose
lit tusWhen. male managers

delight

in

beoihg aske3

to

do semethil1g speCial or something ~~cJ~~Y

female employees it is a diff'erenr inat .. ter, It is more like an oraet phms.ed in 8; mqtmer that ~~gt":~ts the w mren are full permanent members of-the gmup~ but in realitY takes;asII ntage Qf the iQferi@rstat~ls of the women. There a{e"also. casual uses of tanomu when, ne'opljt use the WGIS,.to a~k hlmily or fciends to do something, such as" pick up 'a gift or (emembet to _
tanomu put

th'¢ cat out,

Risk Factors in BuildbIg
Consensus
l n of the reasons for the extraordinary stressin the Jagaj1es~ way ~f tI, )log things is the risk factor ihvolved in associating with, communi~Iltlna with, and inv'olving your cQ:';'WQIlq;rs in. the netnawashi process. If VIIII misread. some(]lne's- willingness to help YOIl, or leave alit someno€ who fe~ls he shouMhave been b;ought intQ the precess, or make any of ~ number of other miscues, yOI1 maysuf£eF !i,etba~ks to va-rying deg,rees.. III senous cases, the. mistake can be, fatal to your career willi the, A typical example in a medium-sized cbmpany ful10ws *: The manager lIt I d :'partment is asked by the senior vise-preaident to do the staff-work fll' !\ major project. The manager does- so, but limits his, nemawashi.to II, vi -presldent and 0 her members of the ,fum who are directly \ lnvnlved In the project. When tb project is completed, it goes to the
tilffip

ny.

.

1" • d 'n

r r vi w.

"Dezo, yoroshiku . .. tanOf11ima.sl'('," whl h mar' or 1t!1I~ mennj, ..J llI~k V('lll to please d what v r Y 1I n!" R It rtoo It t IUd !lhl~lf 111\ h\ lIUU up In the t nomu 1)11 ~('pl nrc 1111 lntlmure p II r lit I h IllHtt II ltlill III
(I

84

Behind tii.e J apanese B(jw

Kat:a;in Busimliss

85

The preside,nt becomes, very angry With the ~<l1Jagei and MIls the
project ~ Rot because he- thoqght it was poorly d6ne~ but" because he was

ceeeling over the long' run: in 'a company are redUced to near zero, . ,lIlae difficultY with nt>:mawashi lobbyll'ig is tliiat you never know if or when the,seeds:yeH are ph':tIltiing are goiqg to sprQutj" sait!. one manager. "It is avery suIDtle. ty~ of maniJ._ilulation that depends on appealing to ~he seIf-interestQf qth:~:ts; with a 10tQfgive'~l:\'nd ... tak-e. It. is, tl;le unseen fotmaation of business in Japah/' he added, There is also a_rlsk;'factor invOl-ve9in ordinary personal _r~lationl>hips
WIthin a $iVefi

not. quiecly (withoQ.t the ,.ri€e-preside-nt l(n~wing a.Q0l1t it) bro.ugkt into the nemawashi 'pre:eess' hY' the mana'ger, H~ accuses the mliFtaget of not khqwinK how to netnawashi; This leaves the manage!; With no future In the OO'.tnP~lily, 'ahdsholrly tht!t't:ar~~ hl'j:,e$tgns. r Because of the Fis~ f~{;tbr involved io using the nemawashi Pt~l>Si it has l$st,:1;om:e Qf its, luster among younger 1'l'tat¥tg~s. They know that if die)' don't leam ro use suC:h tacti<!S, however" therr chances ,of sac-

sUPPPs!!d to do, leavi:qg them feelmg uS'ehrs§',and fiust;nated,The for this is directly: lin:k;ea tokata~ to how the Japanese 'have Iraditibnally'been conditiemeil to>teach anti learn in business sib~ationsL lbis silent svstern, of ,rpanagement is bas~a on le~ing ~y firS'1!ob ... I 'lVing and listenitJi to gehe;r~l cQmments an~ hin,~, th~n g-radua1lvbe... "Inning to de-the simplest and most opvio1JS th:ings. In other: wadis, it is the ancient apprentice system. The third step is toslo-wly begin to take p rr 'in the endless-round of lliscussions that 'c_haracceru:e Japanese manlIJiIement, eventually bec.om.l.ilg'a partieipatfrUf'i:l:Iemher of the ream an~ thereafter natural1y:abs.Qrbing the~ knowl~ge and direction you neea. This trjlOltional type of "instruction' is, ljter,ally known as mi41arai (me ... nal:i-ry~), QJ! "learn by. watching." While: still common, it is coming,'
Iheyare ason under inc-reasing crititiSmby -younger ~Qple· who say it wastes tline, t 'lnffDrcea Qutdated methods ",f tef,l,ching heea.€d skill:s'j en1l?Hasizes rill bebavior; Managin:g wi.thoat giV'ing direct Clfders: IS tatled tneitei t!@, ,lIikata (may-e4ay no she~kil;h~tah)"C'if ''Way of,giviIlg!order'S." It does not consist of giving ordt;r~ in the Western sense, It iscteatin"[ a sitQ;ltionirt which indivH3ual workers kol\)w what they a[~ sugposed ro do, are, given th· nece~saIY' int;.entiv.e to do it, and ate tew,<\tded when they tip: it~-The v~tem is ae-signed to avoid singling out individuals, ro diffl1Se,;responsi, h lity and to give each persen the Oppprhtnity to: do his or het bestIways within th~ confines of the group anH its interest:;. What might 15e caU@d a subui~ilD,n of meirei no kara is s1uJi rm dakh.i Iu,r1 (she-jee no dah-shee kah-tah), 01' ~'Wa~ of giving di:rectiQIl," which ullows the same guiclelines'and ha's the samella-also There is alsa-an ex11'11, ion of the nieir:ei 00 sh'ikata rom:;ept that covers how employees are cted to react to it; meil'e.i ukciltafii, or (f.h:bwto feneive Or atqept nwlrci." The 'essence of nreirei no uke:kata is that employees an'! PI' ted to carry out the \\'dshes df management in a ~a:V that will pit' ~ everyone and enhance the image and/or status of the gr!!lJlP, Thi$ lncludes the idea that employees will use, their own initiative,j m@tivare ," III lves, and not let management or the gr()up.clo~. II k ping with the group-oriented shame factor as a contr-bhnechan.I II n Japan se society, the most devastating way to get 'better perform ... 1111 • by individual is to point out the need for improvement in front of t~ 1 collc ~u ,The power of his approach obviously lies in the fact

aoo

group ~f Japanese.

Everyone is always on the L(jG!.xQut for

the group, 'lsaid one lapa,nese. In personal as well professional dealings within B"Japahesecompany it i~ always ne'cessa;ry to. be' "aware 6I hiclden1I).ean~ngs and ~~n&s, since peopl~a:re altnds,t nevtfr fully open and candie! wttheach oEher. Direct cemmuniGatipn is seldom. compl~te,Cqmplained one bicultural manager, "MBSt' Cbnver~atiQns are, jt1st kll$hiki (kav-she-kee): -formality. You have tn decode what the speaker really means."

anY, aberration or deviation from the €ultura1ll01'tn of] apaneserress, You have. t€l be ve%areful ta ~WGid being' trappe:-d hlYwhat ypu say' Of do. "Most Japa'tl.ese db not lo,;u3w how to tt"eat otners as iridivnluals:, and measure everybody by their japaneseness and the collective inrerests of

as

no

M'anaging Without Giving Orders
Aside from new-employe orientation and nny f rmal nr-lIn!11U Ilymmll 1'0 acquire skills, foreign employ , of lap' aese cumpu III '(LIIlI,,_ nuplnln that no on v r ~tv rh, III or I~IM m ~Pt'l I.A nstru til II~ nhoul wi\! I

h CIIlI!!' rh . In lividll I'!! Culllnl( , which affi ct the wh I gT up, are I, I" ibll I It . h h I nil uti . plr ( t ~. nd om' sub] c 0 P' • n • "Ill nd w()r~
tiltH
IIhl

86

-Behind the Japanese Bow

The Japanese Way of Working
Most:l:aI¥er Japanese companies axe microcosms of the kata SYStwn at work, wIth shig_oto no shikata (she~g(}~t00 no she-kah-tah), or "the Wil,)' of working," pla,ymg,aCienttal rele. Shig~to no ~hikac~ sounds o\iimf}l:e enough, but it gees far beyond the QDvfous surfaQ.e facetS of technical ~hiliqr and ph:ys'ical 01' mental gerfomran~e. It e_pc.ompq.8$eshe, whole [ Japanese wade ethic, fto.m "-gr0upism"aml Iiar:mony w, the built-in compulsien for oontinuous irnptovernent in the process. Virtually every aspect of work in aJ:wanese company begins and ends with whatevengroup Que belongs te, The$r-0ups are struetured hierarchically as' pyramids. Relationships within the gfOups are based on Iongevi~ apd. ran]; within the group, with thes;e t~o factors often being&yn~ anymous-in the case .of male employees. In most cases, the lowest Fankil;lg fl1:~mber;;0{ any grollpqt~ female, ' a.ncl- ~he,$e.at~ usually the ne;west ar:rd. ye.unge:]trttembecrs Q)f fhe ~ioup. Except in still rare cases, women in lal:ger japanese companiesde not rise to~co1)le le,aueifsof.groups, sections, Of Sep,art-m-ents The ftrst priori:tyiiI a group is the harmony, integrity, and 'survival of the group. The seeond priority is to achieve the _goals set for the group, and. ifhutnanly PQssible. to overachieve them Qecause the kata-ized system eondittons people to regard anything less than maximum effort and maximum results as a shamefu] failure. The sbigQto no shikata concept includes the state of mind of all the members of the _group'concerned, their attitudes about the company, their group:'and their workr_esp<;>Dsibilitie$, well-as how tht;y behave in as their persohal relations within the gl'ou))-and toward outsiders. The concept cQv~rs what they ,say and how th~ysay it, It requires them to tak pride~fl their grqup and campany; to gO abQut their work in a Warm, sincere, trusting,' and positive manner, and to be gracious and hospitable to clients and ether visitors. The aiW ofshigo!o no shikata is to create an en,vitQnment in whic.h the- contribution 'of each member transcends tho goal of just getting the work done. £higot(;) no shi~ata is permeated by two OWer concepts, that are constanrly on the lips (1)( the Japanese: ,gambaru (gahm-bah-rue) and issll.()kenmei yarn (ee-show-ken-mav-ee yah-rue). Gambaru severe, to never give up. Isshokenm I yaru m an t When these concepts are n rg rl By omblned, It
j

aced by higher-ups on a subc;,onsd-aus as well as .gYnscioJ]s level. Th~ indiviauars mood along with every comment and action, on both a pet, onal and p;usiness basis, a.utomatically "regi§rers" on the shigoto no shikata scale of measuring people. If the individual doesn't measure up Ln tt:Tlils 'of'putting the ~¥oup fitstJ. mruntaining hanntlnYr an8. demonstrating a "fight1'ng spirit" on beh;,Jf ~;fh-e g:tQUP ~ the cqmpany - no t matter. how hard he Inay actually wetlc- this person will invariably receive low marks that wiil evenrually, result ill hiS or her bemg sidetracked from. the r>romQtionest:alarot and out of the .mainstream of management. In such a system it is virtually imP9~sible for anyone to enter a group xcept at the bottom or at the top, and those who enter at the top are ltuQSt never ,full)" accepted by th:OSIi! below them, If the newcomers are not extremely careful tnd.ealing wi,th 'the grpup., subw,€:I"gipg most of their o.wn personalities andindividualistics tendencies_. the ~f'Oup will reJeet th-em th~satne way ili~ human ;body rejects the invaston' of incompatilile matter. When the "foreign matter" introduced into a Japanesecotttpany group' is tndeed a foreigner; hear sheis ge:n.erailykept outside of the inJli r circle or the group; either as an accesso.ry or as a [~tnporan' tool, If In, effott i:> made. to actually integrate the foreigner into the group, the Nltuation becomes highly ch~d with all kinds of possibilitieli -most ef which spell trouble tor all concerned. l.ntllll>S.t; Gases the :fQreigl)er cQnGemep is not capable ofblendinginto the group bedmse he@tshe caunnt speak Japanes.e at all Qt n~t well '!lQugh toelh:ninate all verbal. communication ba.rtiers. Mitis!: fordgn emplovees of Japanese cQmp.anies, lU$l ever), less capable of communi• Iting properly in nonverbal cultural terms. Theil' ghys_i~al appearan~e 11 )fl,e is enough to set them apart as different, as not a homogenized, trusrworthv, dependable segment the same cultural cloth, This means that foreigners are perceived as sidecars With square wh Is. How long they stay in t;he.group and how efficiently they funct on is based on their ability to pe1!seve.r,e in. the,Ja'Ce ef uneq'din,g visible urd Invisible barriers, how tolerant the Japanese members' decide to be III I rhelr behalf, and if they are making, a significant contribution to the '~I'f11R of the group. Th e contributions must be such that no Japanese

of

III

quality fffort and gr'll Jy nhnn n h I r n II IJ [upnne

'h

tlVt III 1\1,

mlv

II

unIt

11

II

lit It
'V IIIl

·wllly r pI . rh m. I rson Il I on- P I 1 Kt, h IW V I

the [apaeese: ar~ more apt to take; a h~ghly intolerant ,st;anCe' and tesis t passiv.ely Qr f,lggnessivelYl dep.e-ndil)g_ on the situation. In Japanese companies a pritrtaFy eritetion 'lls-ed by pensoIJfiel @Rkers , wh~n_ £ot).Siqering __ R~:W ~nwJQyees (tp; orhlg in at the bott@rnJ,. is whether er not the¥, 'think the ccanHidates can be gs;ychologicaUy molded tofit multifaceted tokyu Cot:pQtation (ta'ilrof'icts" hoteis, resotts, testaunants, aLld so on) ,Soos well beyond q,arefully screening new employees. After they are hired" all eQ\1P10yeesmale, fewa.1e, 'married as well at qnmarrted-ll'te,;-requrred to live tn a dqrmit0r\' f@r ene year and work [it menial jobs in one of, the eorporatiQn's marty divisi0us.'Ihey muSt tutn in w~~kly reports an, their experiene,e? what they learned. Oheat t:hegbals of this, program is to weld' the employees into a cohesive gr:oup with t4e prOPer T ekyu

more. talented

than the "1lext peroS'GJfi.X:rty ~ign_Qfcsupei)iOl:a~t1l,ty is hkely t I provoke mstant envy;; reslStance" and, if the able person tl~unts his Ql' I r ability, extreme hatreld. Examples ,0£ how: thiS syadtome works, and how subde it can beJ ate l m.mQnplaoe. The recommendation of an mdiV!idual tor '3 s,peclal asMilolnment in !LJ~a-u'e'S¢ 6'Qrnp~y can se.t off.a series of stressful, unhappy events. Instead df beipg 'grateful that his abilitv and loyaltY rave been rccog-Qized! the person is more likely to fear that; being Singled oat frOm hi colleagues may result ip fue.ir turning again$t. him. 0r t4at person may become suspicious, feeling set up by s:omOOne' who Wa!1ts t~ e~entu. lIy get; tid ef him. In a~)'i ev~nt it is absoJ~~elv essential th~t he ~~ prnach the assignment roth the lItnte~thUIDlhty and patn$rakmglr seek the undetsrandllig and approval of his-_eo-worke'!s. It has, beep cli,ar;aC'!:¢ti\$d:c througb.€!ut much of Japan's history that the person 'Of extr~oidirrMY talent and amhitioa dtd not rist! ,tl0 a.~QSition,of I nder;ship; bec-aus~ the grQupequality-above~a:ll-elseg.yndrome resulted In his l::\emg tgnored or os:tr:).eized. ILl.fact, the tendencv has been, and 1111 to a ~iguifitan t 'deg[e~ for the tnediGtre in'1livi'di;al to, h;e:c~t)_se!1 ~ is ~ leuder b'e"tlJ,use h~ will not create envy or upset the wa of the group. This
I" specialLy, true in ,politiCal and

their shigom no shik~ta. The huge,

ana

spirit. Fierce gI'@upiSffi in Japanese 'compan.ies is one of the primary reasons why the head-hunting industrY took so IQng:tQ ,~eve~Prtn Japan (~here are now over 250 re<;:ruttlng: nr1l1.$, ,but the turnover is still relatively

-small») 'and"why'hosti1~ takeO'vers of companies are rare. Eveu :fuendly takeovers irl 'Japan: must contend :with the 'gl'olJpisQl 'faOEO!, sometimes
uJ;ltil ehe Qtigjcn._a.l' managers in th:e c@trI:pm1.fe-i,retire or die. Twenty ~ears after the inef:gef of the Daiichiand Kangvo banks, ilte- presiGen~y of ]f)aiichi-Kanmro Bat'l_k continued to be a1te1'l18tea between snreiving

e'tiucati!:'maJ citcles

a_nd.. wi,thfu

pr~~

t slonal. q$sooiatiens.

oftlc~I;l?of the two tonner hanks.

Japanese compulsion for corporate l,1:atiDmllt,Qn'fGlnnity is so strpngth,at it CQyers,I'l;ot only:attitucie'and behavior, but physical appearance as, well. The' pre~1945 stories of how Japanese with aU')'itning other than straight, blaek hair and {;Iureel¥ OrJgpcal.faciabfeatures were subject to severe distrtm:i,nati0n would seem t-o be ancient history. However, these fe.elings, on a lesser but .still srgn,i£k-ant scale, remain alive today for most Japanese. Many older Japanese teaalrers take-it upon themselves to continue this cultural bias in favor of abs"?lute conformity, forcing their students to l00~ and belraVt!as' mueh alike as possible. Most of the new breed of vcungjapanese one sees in the entertainment districts on weekends and holidays,w:ith their outlandish clothing and hairdos, return to the traditieaal mold sameness when they go to work n Monday m rn'ing . In theory, the conformity that is demanded within [apanese gr up

ana

during pel'iod$ 0f re C4>mi;fiqn in hu~i~I ilal upheaval and "far, 'are now ISe'Cbnriqg.-mo II liS cir;clesa~ the systeIn eyo~yes.> paIlti0ularly in companies tHat ha~e ",tobalized theitope'tatioRs and must DOW com.p,e,te oA' al'1 international

Histotibal eXceptions to 'this pattern were common

ana

II I is. . . Japan's, kata-ized conformity tac,tOF'is ,naturally responsible fat the ~~lIllw-the-leader syndrome that still prBv,ails thtougllout all levels ef sooml mul economic life. Ej(a:mt'l-ltlis, {ads sweeping the eoun tir 'are le~nd, df Illp I S as well as foreign tn;:u:k:eters take Tegulqr:-advantage of the overwl1 .Iming desire of most Japanese to ;'1ieep'up with the_Suzukis"'il1 dress, hnu h ld 'appliances, rec-reational eq~ipment" or whatevBr. Salespeople klluw instinctively that if they can sell aprOdl1,0t I:p a' leading cQmpany, I th -r ompanies will generally follow suit whether or not they-need the
II -m.

0t

makes total equality an ab lute. Ev ryan

and act altke, they also ar ElT mor ble rhnn th ~r

not I ly I IJ I) d think uppos d to I)' vqual II nh I I Thu~ wIn XI' 'r,J In I h IV f hY klt1
I

90

Be.hind the Japanese Bow

I<,a~a.in Usiness 91 B

block. Seeing the long line, other people joined itlin dreves, making the new ice cream an exttaerdinary success in a short period of time.

h panese
111

Dange.rs of Speaking English
Every foreign fum, j;Qim venture, and fQreign,a{filia:ted finn in Japan has its $hflre 6f Eigo~ya {'aa-ee-go~yah) which is a :rath:er derogatory term for "Bnghshspeakers." These people have traditiQnally b~n resented by other Jap;mese staffme~be-r$ who do not speak English.,stiU today, most Ron-English 'speakers resent the familiarity that develops betwee_lfl. the Eigo-ya and the (oteigl'~-staff. They resent the role played by,the English speakers as interpreters and Iiaisons between the foreigners-and Japanese management. They perceive the Eigo-ya. as being faY·ol'ed and vtivil-eged, and :ofteR the1 are, ]apan'-sE-igo-ya are fully aware of the sensItivity of th~ir position, and they react to their. situation in a variety 9fwaYS."Some of, tkos'C whe feel that the foreign side cannot Gil:) without, them .sometimes choose to take advantage of their power to lord it over their Japane§e co-workers. Other,s go to extremes to maintain .harmonicus relations with their J apanese colieagues. ' ' Eigo-ya who do try to maintain .wa with their ]ap;mese eolle.agues are 0fien farc-eo int0 being tw0,faeed. OtheFS choose tQ be two:-faced.. When they are talking 'to and interatiting with the foreign side they pretend to agree with them and support. them. Wh.enthey go back to the Japanese side, tbe~ fi)titid~e and laugh at the foreigners. Eigo-ya in this category often centrive, to thwart the efforts of the foreiga staff to prevent them frl!lm succeOOing and eventua1J;y get them replaced by Japanese. Empl()yee~ (1)( especial1v conservative japanese companies who speak English with any ,degree of fluency often feel cQ,H\pelled-to downplay their ability or conceal it entirely; to avold negative.reactions of envy and resentment from their ec-werkers, which ean adversely affect their careers. The position of Westernized of internationalized Japanese executlv ill Japan is also often precarious to a degree that sugg s paranolu among their still 100 percent Japanese Japan s ·w rk ir . In for ir;{11 and foretgn-efflliared companies in Japan th RC('n rhl Uhl1tltil Inv rlobly
I

executive, tLSuallr in a s-ales or -marketing position, who irndiately begins doing exaetly what he wasbir.ed fot-at~empting to inII nte an aggre_flsiye,p'Qsitive all1proach to, sales. His problems with the [upnnese staffals:cr begin immediately, In additi,gn to.;1;Jeingresented for 1.1 Westem education and intimate~apI?eaTing relationship, with theImcIgn hbsie_~,his indep~dent"mindecl 'i!:ggressivene.Ss clashes head-ori with the Japanese system of groupism artdc_j)rtsen:s:u~A;Juilding, When he t t s to short-circuit the subtle time-consumihg nemawashi sliikatajOl' y of c<mset'tsus building, he often seals his fate. More aggressive members 'Of' the J apariese staff dtarac-_terist\cally begin overt G~mpai:gnto oust 'him by not follewing, through on hili programs nd Qtherwis~ sabotaging everythihg he tries to do. Wnen it- becomes abcv iIUS to the foreign managers that' nothing" is go:mg [0 be acoomplished 1 ng as the Westernize,d apaaese remains in place -and they often hhlll\e him for it - they move him to a less sensi:tjve posItion., transfer hhil to a hr~ch or somewhere else, or ttre him,

1

Coping with a Humble.Mode
se often appear as passive, ri.aiv:e, helpless, and even simpleled, to u,ninitiateaWestemeFS. This appearanee seems -eo trigger-tm uncontrcllable c.QffipuThkm- in many W~,stetnets tQ "help" the humble, l II re, grateful-acting: Japanese. In scruallrv, such behaVior has tradjIII Illly been a cultural eloak that the Japanese wore to avoia appearing RH' stve, capable, iridepende._nt-inindecl,~d im:1ividualistic- all of which were taboo in the Japanese eonrext of things. hi facet of Japanese behav-i.qrremam§ characteristic of the majority, htH lh re is a growing movement among bureaucrats, businessp~et11e, HI diplomats to learn how to communicate and negotiate a-ggre:s:sivelt It~ rh W tern manner. This movement !~officiaUy" beg.an in the 1'960s Itil Ihe in rue i n of Dale Carnegie courses by the Japan Institute of , HII(L~ R>lti ns (JIHR) iu which now graduates several thousand
I \In
I

'''P in

hid "

r.hu, n Nli Itt II" thc ]

I"uuhl

mod
• ~ IIf

fall ws

familiar patt rn.

h for

iloCll

sid hill I

11

n

e~It'11 ulue

It

·d

C tlv~d lin Jt.I.I'fHlJdlt illY I-mllill In rh rh J ipuu . h I 111 [ L n I I, l\ \

r

0

1"
11 II'

ch yer.
t IW
111 1 h

em '!'vcs wuy fn

In

their tr dlti nal nrly J980s wlrh
'111

Ib

I

[I.

'IIIII~

92
phy.

Behln:d the J~pariese BOw

~ata in Business

93

ana wait.

I{'l the book, Iaeecca ctedited a Dale Gamegie course With havlllg qOfit;:rihuted stgruficanily to his own success; causing a tushtamong Japanese to enroll in rhe Carfiegre tt.,@!:iISi}S, The stilI typieally tlasshie thanilei gf most Japanese is not neGessarily a .Etmtrived act deliberately designed to mislead W:esterner~. It is tne way the hl.panese ate £QFcf:d to hehave tOo ~eNformfa their b\'Vn social mores, A4: the, same tithe) rrowb\let, the japanese ate smart enough 1:0 have reeognized long ago that t:h~ir apparent polite P4&sivity give/>them a ton§ide(abl~edgewh!m they are aeating with agg'l'essiv:c forthright WestetriE'!rs-who, are, not flUniliar with their typ~ of :r-ofep!aying. Americans tn paJ;ticLJlar seem to have an acute. cor;npuision to fill every silence, every vacuum-> to talk, talk, talk, and' ten ail. The Japanese, on the other hand, typically sealcnp £'V'et)'thing th1:tti!i loose and give nothing in return. Asigni{tcant degree of Japan's success can be traced to this one tlllliural.ehar~c'teristk) which one Japanese oommen. tater describes as a "hlaok heile'" syncllQffi,e. dftep .all the Japahese- have to do when they Want something Irom'ft}teigrrets bow smile sit back
j

J

panese comJP:any, YPllt positi.bn is grea~y weak~ned because it is their I cure to absorb the nre.ssageancl reject th:e.m,ess:enger. Am~ther aSf'J,i!et 'of this chasacteristic behavior is that the coilCepf: of II chnologyaJ:ud experidlcc>< having proptiella!'Y :valu~ Was traditionally III en to the Ja!?anese. and is still enly partially deveIQpeii:New-{QllI;ld trlends withe>;lnneqio.Q5 @f, sve:~ial knowledge are subject te being used ndles:s-1y/ w.ithan .o-ccasionaJ ,s)Jiall gift 'oJ' .meal regarded a,$ suffk.ient

..

is

equests can seriousl~ damag'e a relatiowhip. Iris' n'tces~atyt(j v~ty'JorIII lly ann clit2lpmatit,aUy expLnm that suchrequests cost time and IIi'OITey nd caI1:n0tlxdiGA:orea without a newu(ldetst,ancliQ:g than:lepils the !lddutonal fees to be Qaid.

limited n:a:ttJll:e ot the corrtraet. S;ummatily. ret"tl,§ingto comply

muneration, Once a, fQtt;j:gn c..qmpany fiigp§ a con~fa€.t with a Japanese fum, the t ndency is..for toe JapaneseSiae to prt:sttme thaUt can QbtaillllFlY.S~ze, any ~nf0[matioJl tne forci,gn company possesses, regardless of the
with such

,.

,.

j

.

,

It -aifficult to im0.F gui'ckl:y to new proposals. ana unexpeqeu events. They have hleeI;L trained to react in exacdy tine oPPQsi1:.em:;fnlter - to. sar little or no.thing uponfirst hearing a proposition and ttl take days, week'S, or months' to think about ir and discuss it before coming .to a eonsensns, . 'Foreign bUSiI}es-spe:ople who are not familiar'witbthis eultural pattern often read in the wrong way. 'A common ~c;errario is 'for the foreign side to be fined with euphoria and, e>:;citetnelif at hew well they m~de their 'qwn, presentanon and how "gre'at" the deal is, and then beon the edge of their seats with -expecradon. When the Jap,m~seuo not respond quiddy, the foreign side is firs,t; puzzled, then disappointed. Sam' Westemer,s become quite angry, blatning the Japanese fQl' "leading them On. '" In 'so many imllances the fOfeign: side 'reveals all of its experienc , iNsights,arrd technology up front and is left with no bargaining pow r and a Sttong feeling of frustration. The most effettiv~way to deal with Japanese businesspeopls withou I' giVing the Store away in advance is to emphasize tha y u YJUI' Kata-ieed concfiCi@ning 'in the Jap;;(l),e$'e Way

pessfble far Ja}?;mese bUSinesspeople

to react immediately

makes

Etiquette as a WCClpon
h ir Ign businesspeople visiting Japan on, bJie'£U'i:P.$ typic;aUy. get, a fulse uupr sston of what-they think they have aeeornplished, The-jull force of 1ft courtesy kata ~he Ja];!.anese ,~l'st~ is alwavs, in pLay on firs:~ uu 'tlngs. The visiter, espeCially if he 0t shetell'resents a lru;_geweIlnown company, usually 'gets royal treatment, Representati;ves'of lesser fh ms a.s well are normally treated with a de.gree R.J\'cl @'ality of hQsfJlt:;ility II. 11 is verv seductive. P r nal attention; hospitality, amI enrertalnmen; showered on fllil' gn visitors by the japanese is invatighl;y enOl.lgh Iro sotten'them up. wtwn this is combined with the Japanese custom of avoidmg direct I r 'i rn, C nfrontation, and clearcut rejections, it becomes a formidable ""1111: to und rstandlng. Not being familiar with the Japanese way and Ilu I ftlr unahl 0 rec gnize Japanese reality, many visitors mislead Ih "h tv' lr l Ii v I ~ r v l)'thing i g ~ng gr at, thar h V ar

or

company) can help them succeed and I stop there, resisting your OWt' impulse to

by th
filrllHlli(

int ns Iy inquisltlv
n.
II"

[apan
till'

'
11"'(

10

(lei or rh s m time, and bore' oil, und r '.IRlln~ ull >Anrt~ ~ r l nul v rv III [L . III n
kg
III

tor

en

IlL

I

Y III tt'wnl

Nt' IIt'ti1ll~

/Jntl'

I'll (_II

111'111'

f

n

94

Behind the Jflpanese Bow

Kat1l in Business

95

Japanese; Way.

However/ even after the neweorneis learn the~stem and ge~ fheu own aet down pat, tkey gertetatly fincl that their etflciency drops€lff drarnatitally. Itsirttply takes,oonsitleta:bly lo~ger to do things because the

.

or

their gtbUp. s.up~Fted me in my- research, and ,enc~ura~ed me to reeommend new apPTQache-s. 1 was tteated as Q rneiyo NihonJln (mav-ee-voe n e.hone,jee)or 'honovary Japanese.' . "WHen I made JIlyr.ec.omme,ndation.s, howevet~, they could not accept Ih m and immediately reverted to treating me as an oursider, My status Itti anh@nof;ll'Y ]apap.es:e lasted ohly iUS- long as I did not repr:esent <!.
threat to their 'Wayofdallg

6.mong ether things" typical foreign busines:spe'eple tn Japan cannot make their own phone calls unless they are (Calling someone who .speaks English or some other foreign language. Except in rare eases wherevery highly R~d bilingual secretarial help .isavailable, they cannot dictate a letter or fax. Secretaries who can take shorthand are rarer still:
Foreign
,I

v~itors

IDtten require

gutdesaud.

it'1:tefp,reters to help

them

gud the- Japanese companies they want to visit, and even with help this can bea time-consuming ordeal _be~ausem.Qst stteel1S in J apq:p_es,e ities c do not have names.J3.v~n mor.etonfnsing, addresses of huildirigs have absolute'ly nothing to do with whatever street they are on. FUI:t;,heIT(1@re, many buildings do not have theiraddresses {tasted anywhere. You can be in trofl;t of and sP,ru:etimesactually inside M a buildiqgand' not be able to confirm. that it is the building you want if you don't read or speak J apanese. What foreign businesspeojlle can 0ften accomplish in their home Gbtmfiy with one or two phone ca~ mor~ often than not-rakes several face-ts-face me.etings over a period-ef weekser months to accomplish in Japan. Usually: it takes from three to five or more meetings: with the Japanese. usually one to three weeks apart, before any kind ofresults are achiev~d - ev-en if -it is just' to pursue the dialogue. During this' drawn-out, ge_tting,acquajn,ted pro€.e~,5, the foreign businessperson is,' 'expected: to adhere closely to Ehe kara-ized behavior patterns expected- hy the Japanese, including gpod~humored patience, energetic and thor:ough resPonses to what otteti.seetns to be an unending sesies of quc;>tioQ'Sand requests' f0r additional information, ceremonial politeness, sincerity, dependabiiity, and so on. (See _Bt{Sines~man's Quick Ghtide to Japan, Cb,arles'~E. Tuttle f't'rt;D Beaks, and lapanese Etiquette & Ethies in BUSiness, NTC Business BIDOks.) Cultural gaps berween We&te:m ana j-apane$e business ways that are eneountered bey bilingual and kttultural foreign consultants in Japan ar especially reve'aling. Said one, "When I was first retained by a major Jap-anese company, the people I was involved With treated me as an utsider because of my foreign face. But once they got to know me and recognized that I could communi at with th m j W I r d l h~lp

Thiscensultaet sa:idhis thirty~ftve years in Japan had ta~ght ~nn t~t r is impossible for the Japanese to develop the kind of relationships wlth nun~Japanese trrat they havre With each other. "~ot~11~guage and eul. ..., lilt mrmng LS

things."

..

rural

fluency

r-~nothing

t'lly too, strong. for them to overcome. Distrust SI.l'(tF·· ,- ,-

to do with it," he said,

!

Their cul~u~al PI!;)-,
of

foreigners Is too deeply ingra'med i.p them." ." ., "', At-the same time, loyalty in Japan is a kata, nota tlmve(sat prmcJ:ple. The Japanese are conditioned to he loyal t() £t:o~p~ and to e~eot Ehe IIllme degree of loyoa1ry in return. If a ~@Uf1 fail~" to' qe~an-stt:ate the de~ e of IQyhlty' they expect, thev re~di1y,shift their alleg~an~e. ...., Japan's real or pemeived lack @f prind~Ies in conduC'~g th~l'r busi> I1~SSand political affairs is at the, bottom ofmu:h of the al~ttu~t of]ap'lA. that exists aT.Qund the wodd. Says one forelgn execuu:ve m 'fo~o, '.While the Japanese may earn the respect of others for ~~~)I' ~cc.omplishI nts, , it will be a long time before thet: are truly adm:ifed\ trusted,

'ann

emulated by thos.~who know them W,tdI..',' _ _ ., ,_ .. The cultural exclusivity of the Japanese has another aspect that 15 the_ "UllrCe of ritany:'of the problems and tticticm between th~in ~d. nQUJ panese. They unconsciously dis'ti.nguish betWeen com~~ca~g1n t.he [apanese language and in (Qreign languages. nllmm~ruca:ti~~ ih ~ng~$h or other foreign languages- is often not regarded as offiClal or bmdtng, . . ... . factor impacts on virtually all relations the Japanese h~ve W1;t~ I un.Japanese. Most foreign biasinesspeqpJe'attemptiQ_g to deal WIth tlieu "Pfln s counterparts are first handicapped because mey cannot speak. , pnnese. They then bring in interpreters, who are usually J~panes@,.preliming hi lves the communication preblein, only to discover la~er 'lit I rh J an se under tanding f the situation betweeD; t~e two partl~s llllil • dlfft'r nt, "Wh transpire in a ~ reign langu ge ts m another dtIIIt'I 1011/' l'I I v re In n: ultr nt. -:.n.tlll~h. Anlllh rUIi I p" 01 Ih rnrnmon I:! ill don I ulmo t lnlr fI nte II III I I I HI Ih
:ltS

n. r presenting the real world.

them solve their probl ms til Y II ten,ll1ly

c p mI mt

1 'Iil

or , '

96

Behind ~he Japatl4l'se Bow'

the fbr.eigp. sidewaen S:pe.akin:g to "hem m. English. but 1:he~rmust also IJfide~,~tand and .s;ympadlize wfth tne Japanese side when speaking to them in japanese. ff they translate e~ct1y what; the t()~etgn$id~~ay{l, in every e.tlltuT,ai'sens'¢, tney :w.illltkely offend or c011fuse ih~ japanese sf€le. I~ th~¥ 'tI;y t@ convey the' exaet cultural :fl~vor _and mes.riing,of ~he }apan,€se diq_logt!e,)t "",ill ~nvariai:!IymisIe<,tcl the rQ'reign s#ie. .

never the ,perfect

conduit, They mav undetsrand

qnd :wmpGt:~hize with

Avoi~ng BmotionalBlocks
japanese errmtionaUsIU, us'ually masked behind their smile's and their sty~zed enquen.ej C?n- fge a sertous 6bstad.e ~.Q establr!lhing per$~na1 or 'business te1atiti>us'hipswith .foreigners. If tHe outsider g~ts bff .en the wtCng foot by being just a little. tli/.Q pusb;y or ~y being jm-prqlite, ,(by J!lPaftese stand1l!q~) in action or in rune ofvtlice, it~ets up an emotional

hlacki'Jn the

minas

of the Japanese,

businessperson. sericclUsiy'. Many for'eign. busin~s$people habi-n,ra!Ly U£~ curse words and other £@mr~of vulgru,; speech ll;i their d~ily business conyetsa.tiQns. Unless you ki1Ow,a jap:ane.e inthna'tely and know 'for certain that he accepts such behavior fro.In you,. tats kiadQf ~peec_h is dang.etOlls because. it will almost always prejudice the Japanese against you. And once an emotional battier: has pe-en erected. for whatever reason, it is almos-t certain that

the Japane;ge ta~e business ~e[:y ~:eriQUslyand (<"ilmw,ttaditional enqueere in th.ei-r 0ffice behavior. There: is a mi:t:lilnum of joking 'and banter among office staff, Hors~lay 'is virtually untntnkable. It is very difficult for ehejapanesa to t.ake all undisdpllned,jnfort,tLa!, foreign addlrion,

In

As mentioned el\dlei, business relalioflS in Japan' Me grimaruy perowl (elations,with a sigffifical1t "giv:e-and-trak'l element; es~d911y in the s~ns of p~tfcmnir,lg, fav.®rs and: F<l.paying Gbligatioh$. rndtvi~uW~ deliberatelY- do favQ;rs for othe_r,s.whit;h inchu;f.es wiuing_ and Hilling them, gi"'iM tli~ gifts and ttea:qng: theinm goif ':':iRd Qtherentertainm~nts, and ~~cting that they eventually be repaid in neW business, mote husiness, or just t'ontihue(i bussaess, The }apa1).cse press Iteql,lently rep:otts 0B ,exceptional cases in Which a gove.r.i1nl'entOffice, 0'1; company ' spentls hundreds, of million!f of.y~n in "enrertainment" in an attempt to influence busines~ de'dsions :-som~thlhg that is ni3t exactly unique to japan."i)ut whk:h is practiced there 'asasanctifiM custom. The Japanese ate, of e@ut~e,.fully aw~re of wnat is .going on when meQIT6gives them gifu; and treats them to more than casual ~os~i~ talit)\; and they often make a paint (;)freturnin,g the favors inki'nil in Otder to avoia incurring 'business obligations they oon?t want tO or can't, foIfill. 'Thi.'! sJt1:vin-gor 'B- balance between fa:v;6tsand ob11:gatiorts is-a delir ate kata~izea..WetQrin the JB:JP.al'le-~e business ,l'1ystem, Reeipwaatiilg favors is not always a balandhg of'aclCt\unts.. however. rt also. is useuas"q sign that a Dusiness'relationship is going to ocout or is ~l')ing well- a S:itua'ti~n that is ~uaHy very ebvious frqm the tone' and mood ef the_ind1vicl~als involved.

wilt

I

The Kala of Rank
r 'tiP ct to parents, elders, and superim;s in behavior as ~elt lIS language, 1i8ti'l\guishing between the sexes, ana fol1ewing tbe predSf etiquette cted in the various situations encountered on a regular basis. b have properly toward individual japanese-fn the [apanese culurrul mvironrnent, it is essential to know their tank in rela~en to your I n, During Japan's ~ udal age, social class could usually be discerned (,om rh ppnr I w rn and wh ther on was armed with one short sword Illd nn Ill,' w rd (til sh rt SWI rd wns' for use in clos Aghting and t lllli III ~ujIJI' wh n r],lll rlrunl Wit requlr d).

ly een a key factor in the kata-wati6n process, beginning With showing

11\Japan's vertically £truttm:.ed

hiet;ltbhic~

soci'e:~y, ank. has traditionalr

the. Japanese will ·net; gyt invoLved with yen even though they may
'-8;

continue meetings.

meeting

erpresentatron

for hours; or even agree to oth r .

1:he rigbt kara.to take ·is the quiet, "modest Interest" and "exemplary" behavior rnGne" while working to create confidence in ve U an i yom cpmpanv: These is really 0;0 Viable way to speed up thi~ pr('CCH~ wlwJl you are in the position of seller or p tieton r. If YOII h l' om ·thlng til ' Japanese want and th,¥ ar C()Ul'rll'lf.{ you, i h y will pl"olllllly .d)-(·lldy h lVI'
gone thr

r

routln«,

uuh

h'it'

prcllmln

1I11d II),IV

"'1 IWIlI t(llll'

lilt

ry lnv nI

~11.a!lIIIIlI~ 'ry wild"

lilt

I

1111"1"'1111I1R

hili

III

I V Ih lilt

W

I

III P " I w
I~I tl I

J

(I

II ju.t t HlIH III

!I t

r!ll

t·d

I

I III (

1 'f,(1II1

I ·h wlm I 11 III w _ !l( IIUJ P opl \

Ull'

98

Behind the Jaganec£e Bow

Kat}l

la Bu~ine~

99

similar ou1fttts thatole"arlyclass,

id-entifiea their

prcrfessiob

'Only d;t_€ ruling samurai -class was permitted

atid !lieU' 'Social to wear certain types

In'dli! }'a:p!3:ne,setc'Olltext, ':a~i1;t 9th-er euhur.e,s) every reom or s];face bas: a .,.iheae1'; "Q["po'rVer glace" when: the rnnkint, individual, n'0r'mal1y ,sits Oli'
stan'd'S_;,-R:a-nki.ng .gtl-e&~~ ,a_ls;O. ,are Ci.i!_gm,w:nly accord€.dthis honor. The "power seaf LiS "taIled .karoi- ~a (~hd-ne ,.zah)! or <tupper s,s;at,1' in. Jap;a~ t\f;:se, In a Rr:i:_v:a_'~e Japane_se~style home-or a .Japarie~e~s.t¥te room lO ian inn: or l'esbl:ur@t,the kamt ~a-(dELth.e r~ed-rnar floor) I:;;~be spaee 'nearest
thc'wkrmoma (toe-kQe~rio~mah)"

§if[o~s, al:Qpg With swosds~ Ms wtthrtlany -otb:€f -eaGets of Japan's kata-ized culture, the CGOifyin,g qf ran,k .b!'!gan ig_ (he Imp.€I:iai Court. PriuCie Sh(;l£~kL1, who J:tTIe'Q as re'getlt- in the 'SeYenth cen,tuty, was tes1,1dlysible ,f«jr -adepttQg the.. 'ftWel~e cap"l2hinese system fur' grading and tanking members of the cotJTt"and n(rbles. EaQ'h, af th~- twelve diffe_rent!~k& -~~t:1S:ignat"eli by the- G:@ior style 0t the l1eadgNtr ...Ctearly visible synib61s @f class rank ate no Ion;g~l' CQ~on in j'aWan" but raQ,k~ w.herh~t in the~usiness wo Jd, PQlitics" or ehe_ I!rofe's~mns-, is'$'till a vital fatoo! in r~lati0nship$,. The J\lpanese remain Yet}' sensitive to class and rank, and they behave

a

"beauty

atcb;ve:'

u,$l!drqp

the,

o=is:play

aria

or

1<)£ 6bWe;r ;;ttf-an.geme1ilt~" s~ton~)

aecQ!<l1ngly. As a general fille Japahe~e: do·net expect fOJ;.fdgneTs to kno.wJatid fair low all aspects of Japanese ,etiq,ll'fltte" especially those navi:n;g to dO' with rank. Bu~ the {~ieiantet_-who,doe%n~t lcrro.wsG1\1ethi:o;g ab,mit dus ta\:tet ill Japanese life and, make l(Si'! of it is handicapped hi avartety'-of wafS. Am~~g et;her things~ igaorane_e (If pr0per Japanese r~k 'etiquette itlde!tblystatnps tile foreigner a$-'an-'OU:I':sid.e.rand ~Jtbsllantiates Wi: ¢Qnstant Japanese claim that f6Iie-ignets ha.vedlfficulty do nQJ kp_0w a_g_d fQlIowth-e ,system. injspan because they

\'If

.0rQGq_~rworks of art. Ina We'StE>:rn.f&tyieroom., busirtcss .oEftce, or eo~fe(oellee room' ~r ha,ll, the hea'il 'ctf the' Ul_om where rHakirig peeple 8.]e seated is ·usuall~· the fartHe;;.t rrdm &~d<X)r' andlt!):I neatest t;he_m, in window side. In a oar, the kami sa is the::back seat b'elTIhddre t:lfii.l:cr:. In an elevater, iti,s the;: cenjer
the 'e"e\;!lJ'OT in the back, away trom the aoor.

Tl1e- Jap~~sfi,at¢' eQh~taTltlyg,uicl.tng, lor:eJgTlers to the seat considered PICp_er for Jheir rank and status, soritetinte$. phy-tii_~lly ~H:.{j)1*-eniqg them when tMy s·l:).Q,;'flfduet~nce tn' go [\0 the "head" table or ('he "power sear" or when rh:-eycf€mQn_st'~ateign'QJ;an'tr~ €if the cU$jtQm. Eoreign lausl-

nes$paople d!taling with Japanese sh'dll1cl·be equa11y s.en$itive.t0 ~his)$:Cating shi.kata,1Itld,fillUo\V ft when tgeyh<,lveJapal'lt%eglicsts, Another; important shikata in ri'e:at.i,ng h!Js~ne{lS visittm;; .~~. t@ ac~ ()mplIDY' them

'he fiistaoor. ~lItionale9\lrtesy.

'tg,me elevator if on an upper HOOF and to the Goor if 0.0. JapauesJi} hosts 31~o I'Jw;h the elevator butrcnas 'an ad. ,

Sitting 'ill the Right Place
No foteign businessperson has been to Japan without eocperiehdng the shikal1a. of s~atins,. In ke@F1ing Wi:~h their sJJPer_is:!f~inferiGr hierarchical tanking system, the Japanese are extremely sensitive to where people sit 'and autDIl1?tii::;all:y .seat eMe'J<Yone aecording to rank or status at the kam in Japan also go back to the days of Prince :ShQtBku in,the §eventh century when, he adopted the "twelve cap" Chi,n~se's¥s:te1li of ,designating .ranks among courtiers. The prince incorporated the Chinese court custom of seating people ina descending order from the immediate vicinity of the emperor outward find em successively lower levels. This custom. adn,ptr:d ro 111rile clrcumsmn CS1 eventually permeated Japan' sc sod lY,

Calling People Names
In keepi.ng with ~he tiered ranking 0f indl¥td,u~ls wit,hin Jap~nese sedery, Ilrles became an integral part of the b,ra:-ized culture, Tn pri-vate;3,'S w~ll L~~ public life, lt eventually became mere GVffiffion (0., use titles than per., .lll1kl! names. Titles were based on efft1.':ia:land profe:ssi.QJ1::U f9D-k :!8atf on t ctlprJtion. When based an occupation, the titles' often ident.ified the Itlld ' - Daiku S,m (dlke-sahn) wa-s Mr. Carpenter, Omawari San (oh• mnh- wuh -ree Mnh was Mr. Pol iceman, andso on. n) "fll I ~. nre uuot h 't file "[ of trfH.llriontlJ [apancsc culrura zhae have III Iud !Ill' lC~I' dme (1ml, he n 'W WIlVC~ of "lntl'[110L'iolll1lizl-ltitln" thar I "'lUI WI!~hIHfrOWl' rl It' I~!nlld~ In t 9~ S, Till' I III 11tll'tUI 11.:' und lINt' (11I hl('~

·mornep.t. Formal seating

or

100 is

Behind ~e

J apanese

Bow

K'ata tn Busitless

1Ql

especially conspicuous in business where, on man<}geril',lI lev~ls> t:hey are routinely,usecl' Insread ~f names. Instead Q£.a section manager i':ie:ing Mr. Kaoo, heis us,uaH, addressed as M'a Cho {kah choe] or "sectionmanage!'" ahd so on up the middle~manageme,nt an'ij exec;lJtiv.e ladcl¢;~ tti" the cnalFll"I-an of, the board - who is refen: d to as' Kdi GIlb- (ide ohoe). As a young~ foreign busitiessinah in 'Tokyo commented, "I learned the, h1ll"u way that one calls () pr~fc1ent' of a cQrp:pany ';Ptesiden:t .Sare,' not ib;;.:fr. Sate."

Exchanging Name Cards
feudal systetn 'in l'868,nam~ cards seen Ti;l.p!acea,'appar:el ID1d Qtner visihle sigtts of rank. Bemuse of th62,jmportance of rank, name cards have continued [9 play a vital ro}etn: the
Fol1owing the official end of Japan's

Frbrn thiS'po.i.P.t on, hpw' t1te JapP.l'le~e;r;eact ee the' -new a-cql:lainta:ncel. the language- each uses, and hl~ 0tme'r phrsftal beHaViort is dHerin1n€id tQ '3 'cQns~derabledegree .1?v the rank of the ether person:s compflAY in the hterarcny of the business. w.orl8>, ,the persQn~s I'~1'lk within the company. and €he relations between the two c0~panre§. . The m-eishi kokan Gert;:rnony.fasimpl~ in form, but it:is important t9 do it right ~ 00 follow. the Tigl1t kata-_ff you want to irnpr¢..s.s the, JaP-1!'eseund. develop a smccth, ~stressed relationship with them. Name canffeXcchange-s at- first in.eetin;gs t~ll the, rec.;ip_ien;ts Ii ,great de,a] about each other, especially if lJot'h of the partie's are la\ianese, sin~e they can (J.suallym'alc~an,.inst::rp.t ju~~mellt~Glut the re1~tive rank iml1ertance of the ,new acquatnt®<!:€, r-based oh the size; of the at-her peron'~!$'ompany and the ind~~idualls positioQ. in it.

ana

f7}uutry's, formal,iz~d busine~~sW-01'ld. tts oft~~ s::ttd with. a substantial I amourrt of truth, that in Japan ify@uclo not have it name card, you don't exist. Of C~Ul'Se, the ex.~hanging :of name cards -----,-m"EtShi kOkan (:tniiy-she koe,kahh) -is a stylized process. In the first place, it 'is "correct" for name cards to be kept in a. cardcase to prevent them from be.C;l5ming ~oiled or worn. When introduced bysomeoue else, the Japanese customarily face each ether, exchange cards (purists, held their cards with both hands when proffering tlremLan.cl ,sayi,'My name is $0 and so" (even though the go-between has ~lrea:dy announced the names), while handi:hg.'theircard~ ever. T.b,eythen glance {\}uickly at the other person's ~ompany, title,· and name, and bow ;atc0rding to the degree of respect and hone! the other person is entitled _to while saying "I'm pleased to meet you," or oneof theether stock inttoauctorygreetings. You do not give Y(;)Jlrtitle when inl\'[ooudng yourself. @ri(ge this ritual is over, it is eustomarv for each person to again look at the other' pal't)1"sname eard, this time studying it more carefully to tnakesure of the individuaJ's name, company, and tide. If the individuals then sit down at a coffee table or confer n e tab.1 ,ch pra ti • is to lay the other person's card on the tabl in fronc of yOu so you con glance at it during the onver atl n to r mind y IIr I rhe orl perj

I

Structure of a Japanese Dffloe

Some p(}st-1945 Jap.anese cotn~anies that are prcimarily lnv;olved in bt.J,§iness with the international community· have adapted. varyirrg. degrees (!Jf Wester,p~!l~le Glffice a.t:ra:ng.eme,nts. lRe:wever, wast- ~OJU!1lanies adhere fully ot in part to' tfie t'r'ailltional sy,st.em, whkh is based ensa specific 6 rm ele~ig!1l!d.o identi~ the rank of the staff, to facilitate communit
calion (w:hkh is invaiiablfyerbal) ·fAdency.

,ami, to

!'l'l;EI,IDn4egro,Up.;Qriented

and ka (ka~), ur "sections," within the department, The srauifal'cl.desk, al'ratfgeooeht i! Office smrcture ,is bflsed. on I:!u (ljoo);, or i1depzr,tm<:nt,"

,

vry similar to a ciassroqm m:;lI:Je u}3af.several grades OJ;st'etions. The \1 partment manager-is at, the', head Qf tll@: rapm, faGing several 'mw:s 0.( J . ks that are generally positioned baCK to back (S0 ilie 0G!::'tlpa:ntsf~p~ ch other), with a' head desk at the top of tpe forq:mtion, facing the l ther desks. ecti n managers sit at. the head desk of the oblong-shaped forma,I (,With a view of all of their staff. Their assistants normally sit at the (T . t k I! rh If right. The rest of the lineup usually indicates the 1l1iHIry tlf th it'tdlvldlHll m unb ·r$. Th more senior the staff members. 1 I I' Ih Y ir () lIe In n " r, N w m r g nernllv start ut t r
II lit

s n' nam

nd if! .

th h llU

III

nf d

1111til.

102

"Behirld the Japanese

Bow

Kata in..BUs-jp:eSll

103

111iS. epen":bay type 'Of arrangement is ty~ically Jf[panesein that the formation rontrributes to both the concepr and tlne functiO!1 of a team. Everyb,ody can see what othersare .dcing and can hear all ,conversations that take: 'place Witl:lln some distance from their desks. FQt:eigners who have worked in these section formations say that all the members hav~ their antenna up at all times and that news of ally kind sweeps over the whole office in waves. ' Each section functions as a highly trained unit, very much like a f06t~ ball squad, with the exeeption that the.seetion leader does not call out moves f1lay by play. Projec.ts .are fliinutely dtsGussed- tn acl'vapce and the prosess of'implem@nting themalse is carefully worked out beforehand, with each member on; th:e team knoWing his or her role. The manager is there to answer questions and make .sugge-stIonS1 nOt to run aoaelrut man show. ' ,Section managers hQld frequent consultations with their st,aff-s, with one another, and \;Vithdepartment managers. Department managers are €oac:hes who .seldom go onto the playing field and n;Iay give only a few pep talks a year to the whore group-. Managers in mest Japanese companies work their way up from the bottom, spe-ndln,g time ill several ·clfffe:renfsecttens and departments, cementing' relationships with their co-workers, and gainmg an overall view of the ,c_ompan;Y~5: aptiVities. Depending: on the compa:n'h it takes from Seven to nine years for a managerial can&da(e to rise to the rank of assistanf section chief, sixteen years to become the head of.a section, anti tv.feIt~-tw(Pto tWenty';.six years to beeeme a dep~ttmeni manager. Except fo1' the command. function, Japanese company gt()UPS aresimitar to most military units. whieh, of'eourse, are, examples of kata-isation that are wen known worldwide, japanese company sections are the equivalent of military squads, which usually have 'eight to twelve members. Departments-are the equivalent of companies made up of several squads, In the japanese system a great many project proposals begin with section chiefs (squad leaders who; are the equivalent of corporals r sergeants in smaller and medium-sized firms and lieutenants in larger cerapanies] and work their way up through the chain to the executive level. Since the section chiefs are in h trenches and at exp ct d ro know more about what is going on than high r manal'{ men , p r i ul rly when their project concerns a pro NS, th lr propo 01" nr tl fen uppr v

Dealing with Consensus Kata
It is pattieular1y irapoitah1 fOt [he foreign bUSinessperson dealing wtrh japan to be totally, familiar with the kata of decision maKing in matters relating to external aotieities. It is typically a qnast-democranz jsrocess that involves anywhere from a few to dozens o{pa€lple dis.cussing-a sub, ject down to the "oone and then ceming to a consensus about what to do or not to do- this desJlitetHe gmwing influence of Western-style decisiqn making in some Japanese companies, Util:ike typical Western e~ecutiv;es wiro can make a variety -of decis~ptls on their 0Wh, the authority of mosr, incli:*'iclual Jagane&e managers) including EOP: e_:X;~Qutiv~~" still very' limited. Most exceptions is to thiS rule are {oclliO in COmpanies where the founder is" stillsereing as the drief executive offi_cer,and ill the overseas branches and sttbsidiar:ies of major e.ot'pQrJ!itin,ns here deq.:lsionsn;rllst be tailored to the local w eerie. Because the still prevailing japanese system of deeisien making on new ~rojects1:nv.olves nmny P~0ple, it g¢tl.erallycap.not be done quickly. A tempts to speed up the process by pressure _from the outside may ,5UG~ ed remporatily:bur almosc-alwavs backfire in the long.run because the pressure, is resented and the decisioa may not be to,the liki;ng of people who are aple.tosaootage it. Some crlticsof the Jllpanesesys-.tem @r decision making say that [upanese decision makerst collectiveLy speaking, are drilled in people .mulvsis, not problem anilly,s.is, since their success depends more on. their III tllries to pei'sl!I.ade er manipulate their eelleagues than on detlrting pr blems and opportunities. This, is no doubt true to a d~ee, but GeT~ ltlnly not to the point that it prevents the Japanese from being verv.sucII ,,~(ul at solving problems. Ihe larger the Japanese company, the more ('bottom up" J11ro:p9sais III • presented by diffetent departments. At oany ane time dozens of dfffer~ t<lIl proposals may be in competition with each other, which isanather , n m why it tak s a relatively long time for a proposal to be approved nr di"approved In a large Japanese company. , in Ii )tn as th r ar s veral c mpcting proposals for the same pro]n rh l p res or nil of rh pi n end up in one plan - a very

d in pnrt or in wh( I '.

",II· lvc m thod of 11llprovln~ the overall qllllHty of planning 111111I I I till ' 'on 11m Hil pm 'II~ tI I nit en (ru tr II' {III Mid 'rlJl. I

~ . ( rt

but

104,

~liind

the japanese_Bow

Kata;in Bus,iness

105

i'Rareigh businessmen must net o;n1v learn how to' nemawashi to succeed in Japan. !;hey· should' also b:@aware that thee process .'i,s freu

'quetltly afiusea hy rriamp Japanese," warns anAmetic:;~n businessman~iter'who resides in. ~olCyo. fie ~.xplain~: 11th; ,C0lhDIon for Q p~rson WIth 'wnCYlnyoHate dOlti~ bUsiness or try'i'ng to do business to make, an a~poiptinefit wit~ you and ask, if hJ;; san ptcing 1{ionK_S.Q~~rte else t(f!)tn hrs cCilmpaoy.lt Q£ten turns.eut that the·"OrtlyPWl'ose of the second indittuftl is to ekk :y~ur. brain. When'you get sueh calls k -4; acrvi:ss'ble to nd out exactly who the othe;I' ~ts~l'l {sand why tli:e~ want to. meet .You/' ' , ;arain 'p~€kingin Japan, as ,mentioll.ed<;'aJ;1ier,. go~s well beycrnd the , nemawashi process. There appears te he -a na:rur:al 'fuciinatioJ1; in the Jartan.~se tQ learn ey~rytllingthev-oan about everything -a trait ihat has contnlmted enormously to their €,XtqfQIdiwt:Y ~QhonJic success. japanese bus+rre.,§speQple anp:o.thers ask questions and listen with an intensity:, .and t~ such lengths, thai i:~_oft~~ drivCfs their f@reijw 'c9:unter~ parts to. distraction. When this cultural habit is QQmblned with the tendel'le~_of W~&t~l;).1ets. especially Americans) to -autemarically assume a t~achlf\g at leeturing manae» ill· the p[e~ence ':ef Japan~e (ant:tutMeJ;i!), it gl,ves the J ap.aOel!€ a dQuble advafltage. ' . ~aliV Japanese C"~~panies still use !'he traditional ringi ~ho (reen-ghee , show; system of Wf.ltmg .out pr9P~9Salsanid cireulating them to: all the people concemed, ,nlfst on the middle~man~_gefii_l;mt level -and then_going u~ the ladder to tep: exeeutives. If the- d~pument surviv-es tile ~crutiny of IIl1d~le~ upper-level maoaget;s, the, CEO usually goes along with it. and WhC!n .the ringj, .she, is used, nemawashi 'still takes place with the ~Qcamenta~ the: focus of the discussions, Autnoxized rea~e'rs sign it if they are ill agreement, thus diluting resp.bt:tsibility for any adverse GQ,nseq ences. u . Younger members of Japane$e; cqffil'l'\nies are chafi'iE.g uo.der the nemawashisys,t~m of ~ecision making. Some- are aggressively pushing for chRlryges that WGJUldallow them to participate more directly in decisions and ,to ~et iodi-ViduaLreeognitien for Jhejr- $cucce.ssful efforts. There is a r~~f calk aboJl~sueh changes and how far they have already gone, but a s~ificant pOr~lOn of this impression is, exaggerated, especlallv where IDaJQI; .co~pan;les are concerned. Fast decision mad by Individual managers In Large firms are still rare.

Following the Chain of Gommand
In adtliOoj:1vP; he kata of appropriafe n'lanliers afid laD;-$l§ge, business and professioml [_(datfonships in; [apan have a stiic'f pr:GtOcolt1ta~ is yeT'{ similar t(1) ft rig\d military code; Gat! of the n').fJ5t tmporranr 'facets of t~ code is p~ipg speda1ttttentit1ln to tne chain of cQmma,-na. and being careful O:otto g~t.an.y:@ne's :noseatl!: ef jQint by gomg over hIs h'ead. Just like. a .s;triotty 'l;uil_,roiliiary butfit, the Japanese have b~tm,conditioned to expeet everyone; in~ide'l;s,"as well as outsiders) to follow tli~ Flrfjs~:ribed iJl),IB.andhain in all relatiQn~Qjps. € . Fo~ exam~le) if"aNew Y:Q_tkbusine.ssperSen who kncaws the presicten1:' uf a Jap.anese eOIn1PaJilY goes.w JaPan and visits the F're$identWithQ~r going tb.roJ;lgh the fi±m'sNew Y;ofk branch Of&C~, it: is a breach of prl')hlJ(~J::jl that can be serious. J"he'branch tnanag¢r of the ]'apa\ilese' eom,pany will eel slighted' and 'left ~tl:t and \yill like,lybear a grudge, against the New' . Yptkbusine:SfoperSQ-n from then on. Depending on the oi-r~um5tance~, the Japanese branch lUarager in New York may become suspid'Ous of the_ menves; of the foreigh business~ rson and thereafter rriistrust him or hen pfoop&r protqcpl, even if you bave known the presid.enUn J~pan for years and don't know the blil,nch manager at all, is to play it bV the kata~i;z;ed rules _ofor-der. The Japan@se Ice irinatrelys1J.spidous of anybody Wh0 does nO! COnf€)IIt1: ~0 eSta91iSq.ed pnttemsofbehavi@r. , ., .. Wh~ all, Japanese behavior isp,p\l'itmsly not. t;()nt~oUed_ direef:ed nr by kata aspelivasive ~ tl10se RDvemmg the .ptactioe, of karat~~do, We"tem businesspetiple shQold k~e~ inmina that there is, how~yef" ~I kata for every aspect of Japanese mentahtv "and . ~ehavior, ·arret that failure to recognize and take the approl?riate kata into I;Ond ration creates dis~omfort add! if roo ·w:onouilaeo, can doom any

endeavor.

'N w York to l ok into

A group of Japan~se businessmen come to opportunities in the United5tates. 11, N w York branch of their bElQ..k Japan provides thern with a staff ln n L-nb r It RIl thelr lnt rpr r at a meeting with a .group of AmenAnother typical example:
investment
_Ill

nil 'in

$

p <upl

.

106

Behind th€ Japanese Bow
Westem

Kata in Business

107

Despite ha\'Jngbeen carefully briefed by a veteran Japanese eonsultant to keep their presenraeion genera), an!dgj:v:e only an Qverview (wjhl1 the Iiletaus to be pro,vicled later in written form), the American side makes a

ptefuS'ely detailed, highly technical presentation th~t tt;Jtaliy tloot& the intetpreter and leaves the visiting- ]ap;mese deleg"atidaSquirming in their seats with anger, emlia,rrassment, ana boredom. The American side becomes'inG:reasingf)( aware that the intttrpreter -is doi:r;l,g!1 very bad job, and they becerne upset and angry that the bUihgual japarrese consnltant retained by their company doesn't jump in and take over the role of interpreter. The meeting is an unpleasant ~p:eriene~' fer everyone. ' The lapanesecQnsuttanf later 't'xpla:tned to' his American eolleagues that the- kat a 'app1v:ing to the way the [apanese conduct i,nterp~s~nal relations prevented him kom st~pping in. and taking @ver. Everyoae on the japaaese isitie, would have l5eehshamed. The Japanese employee would have lost face and liitam:dingwith lili,; wnk'~,c1ients ali well-as with the Americansiee in iJ;,wlly that WDuta never be fQtgQtten-otfor~ven. T'heViMti.fig }apan.ese businessmen would have understood the present-ation if the Japanese consulta,lt had sleppeti in, but tIp,ey too are bound by 'th~ dictates ,of katadesigned to maintain Mttteand harmony, and die negative factors involved in the situation would have outweighed the benefits, ,.
for me," said the Jaf'\anese consultant,. "I, mote than anyone, could see thar the m~etingw~goingvery badly, but I couldn't stop my American colleagues and sa~.Hey! You're ' "It was-an e*tremeJy painful situation

husinesSReeple aze constantly asking the Japmtese and oth~s who are knowlengeahle,~b.Qut Japan to t~U them fu. a few minutes all rhe-v need to know to deal effectively With Japa.n~se CQUQterpatts. Such instant l,nsigp.ts can help, but they alsodan be st) superficial th'C,?' do more harm than good. In fact. much the advioe and counsel being b1vem ~q We,stern peliticians, diplomatSjaHd businessl?o~Clple clJqut. how [0 deal with. the Ja,pa1\~e covers emly surface things and is often IhlsIead~ Ing because it creates false image_$'ande~ectatiQn$rtbat care not likely to

meAl;

fif

materialize. phases of

k:;tta approach is to have expert counsel in all thtQughout it~ lifetime: and to follow advice wn'ell it comes from a genulne authority. When you do not have access to expert advic:e and must p,roceed without it,apologize (an acceptable bta) and do It your way, as diplorilatically al;ld 'i!:Qp_rt~O\;lS1y'as vou
~Lprojectlrelati(':mship ..

'The rece--mllll!nded

knowhow.

Westerners interested ifiabsorbing'$@lUe the phi1osoph)j and psyhie condiupning that makes up the Japanese Way, without: gQing to Jflpan.eould c,o.nsidel' taking up one, or more, of the country's martiaJ

Pt

rts, such as kendo and karate.

making a big mistak"e! You're doing exactly the opposite ot what I advised you tc do!' And as-a [apanese 1 couldu't-insultthe Japanese group by behavmg il'l a manner that would destroy my ability to work with them in the furure." Of course, this kind of eross-cultural encounter appears silly and (lljunter-flrQductiVe to the. logical~rninded, rational-thinking Westerner. The point is that the kata of Japan often negate logic, and that kata often Cannot be igp..QJ;ed. Eegardless of how "dumb" they may appear to
the outsider,

-"Beh;ind-the-Scenes Management
( ne

in whether th~y are political, eeonIIIUic, or business, is. that the people out in frontthGl~e who. appear tGl I he leaders - generally have limited authority anti often no powet I rrger companies and brgaooalliopS,
Ther are a number of factors involved in thiS way of dQin:lt things, inI ludlng th well- stabli hed consensus process of decision making, which d II 5 r'sponsibHity to the point that it disappears -andgeneraUy

of the most s.ignifk-ant c_haract'eris~ics of Japanese management

It nll.

It is ~sy to-explain intellectually the Japanese "way" to

Westerners,

including those who haV'e had absolutely no experience with Japan. But it is virtually impossible to transfer full un erstanding and appr i i n of such behavior to someone else. The und mending has to b marional and psychical to really make s nse and h· (l pI I. II III n r hu t be abs rbd in r AI Ir~ ver u 10 M I ri I 0 11111 ,

r

p

ih enos l'LSU fo ror i the well-established J I) U) ,,1 r for' ntrnlllt I' th nu, on b shind hen's - R ultlln I II v til, I " 1 '{'II I by 11'11 Iy rh II TId Y 'ur II
JU!I<t t 111' A

lud

ten

eh

i

os lm

L1ityof on pers n running the how.

III

108

Behtna the 1apanese Bow arity

Kata in ~nsihes$

1,00

canstsnr use. One of the earliest examples was Bmperor. Shirakawa, who w.em into retirement in A.D. 10,$0 but, X,:o)1tU;l:ueq 'to exesotse WO;\Ver wough front& Hnt} agents. Empifror $hll:akawa was able to avoid the tinie-and~e[,)_ergy-cohs'Umiq~ ceremonial aspects of po\Ver ~nd_management, giving ~elf'agreat deal more privacy and time to <contemplate ':andma.neuvcr. Heats() cQula manipulate people aha events 1;0 a far greattlr:>extent than if he were required tp do so publidv. And;' finatly; he was able -te avoid all respbpsibility [otatty .0fJUs plans or actions that £alIed, With this Imperial precep_ent of m.sei (een-say,e), or "~e,cret l:if~," it .gr;J.aually'became cOl11Jli1Qnplat:e for Jap::me1ie leaders 'in all areas of bus ihess ;.md life to "retire" early while continuing to manage' events :trom 't,het'doset." Drifortllna;tely, ~ere Was a fatal we~ne$s:"in thiS system of indirect management, that c(1)nthhn'ted t6 Imperial power being tGltaJly usurped as eady as 1185 by military dictarors who, in -tuq'~, were to be p~a.gued hythe same €psto1tl. fDC cite next seven huadrer] years. The inseisysteiIt, only slightly modified" still exists in modem Japan.
It is particularly conspicueus in politics, -v.(heTel')_ot,o~~but :s,eYcr-aI key ~gUTes ~Qtlttol most pOwer fl'\;)mb:el:tind the scenes, eften ;with dtsa!>trous resultssas witnessed by a number ofscandals in the late 19805. One cit the primary weaknesses of the: in,s.ei·system as practiced in ]a,pan today is that it does not lend itselftb a quick analysis and reaction 'to situations, HT,ld does not pe1'll'ij.t effective power _to, be [Q-C11sea on specificproblems. This- puts the Japanese- government, at- a serious disadv3,Ptage in tctlday's'fast~moving world, pa~ticularly where its .intemationa I relations and tntemationai ·.eyents )Fe co_D:ce1'lled. WhUe the insei system has been very detrrrnental to Japan because it hides and protects the sources of power TI-OIf1.puqlic scrutiny and res:P9nsibility, it nevertheless has been vetyeffettive as a short-term weapon against foreign interests in both th€ political and economic sphere. Probably the mest-notorious histerieal. example of the insei factor occurred dunngthe early 1800s when the United States and orh r E~rbPean_ nations began attempting to establish diplomatic and trade relatfons with Japan. It was decades before Westerners realized that the ell'lperor in Kyoto was,pawerless, and that the country was governed by II

and responsibility were so diff\ised. This system

allaweq the'

]aMn~se' government te delay its re~diQfl to the foreign ap~r8aeHes :and to He-siID? eventual respKm"eses t0~uit_its Q~ p~s.es. its not th0se .~~th(! fbreig:J:'t ]l]:owers.This was to remain bOth tHe ,l_XJhcyand the Ii!raQt.rc~ of the japanese 'guve:l1umemt as well as majpr_,business enterprises up to the
present-time. ' , De:Wng with the [apanese government or a large. commercial eneetprise today is vety mm:h lik~ tqing. to, ~fa:~P and pin thearIfl.;soi an o~tQpus that keeps Itself surrbunClefl by a s:ernibpa€fue cloud of cult;ural

amQ'ke .

Interoornpany Relations
lntercom~~an¥ relations in Japan HIe also hirarized in ke'ep.mg with the' overall f0J:1HfJI na~ure pf ttaditianal etiquette,. "Business between .eompantes is not-done on a simple cbmpany"to-Cllrnpany ba$~s. It.is p-rimaru;v done ~n a people-tli)-people basis. n-teaning that pellSona:l and hU'man r lations have be. established with rhe appropriate managers before IllY transaction can Oceut. A:lthbligh the stricter requirements f(,}f first estabnshfffgper's~nal r lations with new fums ha'le ,diminished signIficantly in recent decades, It is still common for managers (0 refUse wao blisines,S! with 'qam:p;;rnies I h y would lik.e tosell to Of ~uy from, because the "proper relationship" ~h S not exist. The first challeng~ In dojng "':qs-mes,$ wi;& any J apanes,e I t mpany is for middle- and upper-level managets to establish tht; necessry personal ties on which trust and confidence a,,~ based. . Establishing such relatiollshipsinv.anablyreq un:.es nutnerql;l;,5m~et1ngs. 111 ld and outside of the c6mpany, with eating and drinking together plflvlng B. key role in the process. In fact, J_a~~neseb~sine5smefl~;-netallr. Ill! n feel comfortable with anyone until they Have gofren dEun~ rll~ lhe - th rationale being that you cannot really get to know people lUll II U th ir d ·fI nses and facades are down and their true "heart" is

to

I

military dfctatorshlp headquartered in Edo, as Talty wa tho c II. A great deal time and effort was wast d durlngrh 'S cds Ix· cause Westerners were not addr sing rhe r al pow r 'Iltllr. 'n I t I' the Edo-based h un Ii{ v rnrncn wu I niH d, th p ohleiu ) 6 tiv communl nrlnn nnd IWglltlLlt 011 w ~ 1 O[ Ir~(1lvrd hl' 1I1l,5 iurh

or

It.

II I. In Iapao srrl ' tiqu rt pr v nts this fr m happening except dill ng' 11 tl'r·hoUl·~ dd lklnJ,l II Ii Ions. In. with 31 th r I n I pro h t " II J It all 'Ii n ply is
t

Illy fl
Lcl

ubi

th y knuw ( r onnlly nd ro 1 r fl II b L1k V 1111111 -r nr

I"

110 Behind the Japanese Bow cust,f),?er and so forth. a,gen.cle~alsQeartyweight.
j

Kata in BU$inu from important government in dealing; with the s-rbwing complexities. of. the modern. :world. It would apP(::arthat Come f the most corrspkmous andVri.tal advantages theambi~ o guity-mmtletl Japan.e__$eitaV1e ~, tneiE at,titude and approach toward computer science. Rather than base their Bp,proaeh only on the Qff-OIl, bl'ilek~:whitfl logic favored QY Artstoreliaii-coudlnened, Ameriean and Ernopean oempsrer-ectermsrs, the Japanese also were quick to use the so-e.aUed f~ lo,gic appmaOh. The Japanese were ,noMhe first to conceive and develop concept of fu1i~Y logic in pro~inge,llmpl11:er$. TlrJlt Was primarily the werk of American s~ientists~ but the mainstream of Americ:aa and European comput-er scientists was philosoghi~ally opposed. to '!fuzzy thinking" and tended to 19pore its validity and potential. This cultura] faal!i~ ~f the Western sciehtffiu community: allowed Japanese scientists to becorne Ieaders in the practical application ofhelisticiZoP)flutel' logic. By 1990 ddzeruof major Japanese companies (with governments suppott).were using fuzzy logic to achieve {at ;m(;l1'E; pre~i&e and adaptable. conrtol oftiobQt$ and a wide variety of appliaricee and cleatrenic e$luipment - from subway systems to air-eonditi~hing - than their Western counterparts, who were just' begirullng to play catch-up. It is ironic iharoneof'the ka:t9.-izeilJapanese eraits thai: has been most dti¢fZ:eQ_y W~stel;nerlii has ruined out to be one 'of Japan's ~tronge$t b assets in compeoog with the rest af the 'Vodd.

Introductions

All.M th'e other company....ol"compaby kata iiwolve one or more 'facets t of the euquettesystem -:ffeffi exch~nging name G:atdstQ making eOUTtesy c:al!s, on s~ecial OCC{tsions (espet-ially at the begrIming IDf each new ¥ear),grvmg~ gI~s when appropriate. and fLilftUing a variety Qi sqcial and ~rs~Ila'1 _~bligaliI:on.s that cOll,le widi buil~ing. and SWltaini_ng 'Uhe kind of rel~tlot)phlP, that Is required in Japan to begin and to continue doing ousrness. l

-we

. ~th~t or not indiviouals or companies in Japan have·established rei anon ships· geneta11:y aetermiues the ethics of any contact between the.m. If there is no 'established relati9nship, there is nqspecifie oblig.at~o~ to treat the other: party raid¥; (in the Western sense). In ether word~, Japa~ese tend to be "fair" only t9 these with whom th~y have ongOlI)g, desm:ml~ Tela~on~hips, Sin,~'fail'Q.e'Ssin thefi>rin of equal treatment and equal oppottumty for aU is the bedrock of American ethics Ja:p~nese and Americans dften find themselves at loggerhe.ads. Fii:\Iei~ b~sHlesspeople"w~G: expec: t~ be treated fatdy, by Jal"an"Esecompanies ~diQut first havmg establlsnerl a good, working relationship are more likelv E0 he treated as adversaries. who a!'c,'''£air'' game. .

Advantages of Illogical

Thinking
One ~{ the most COnsptcubus thcfraatetiStics of the traditional Japanes W:¥ is that ,the Japanes~ are condttroned. to think in what might be de,s,onhed as GlmulLlr o~ h~Hstic terms rathet than in the narrow straight lmes tnat are favoIeH In the West. When viewed from the Western stru:dpoint, japanese. th,inkWg and behavior often appear irrational. 111 reality, howevet. the Japanese way of thinking and acting just as oft· n turns out tb be more rational, more logical than the Western way cause the Japanese approach is more comprehensive, sine i ak sill cal as well as contradictory factors into consld ratt n. The fact that the traditional cultural miml-s r o bas d in signin tit part un tJ mhlgu I jII w II 1\1i the 011 [tdl"! ()lltlllllW, hn IlllIltJ out tn J III I' jI 11,,11 II> I

Designin'gas a Cultural Expression
For nearly one hundred years the Japanese wereJmtnvn te the W~SJ p1'l,mr rllv as product copiers, a role ~t ha~ been cUlturally reqUITed of
them for nearly two thousand years. 'Thekata of eepying was transrp,iuoo ch new generation through a pervasive, long-term aplDrentite 81st 111the. made each worker or artisan a thorough-going prote&Sidnal in , tllLpli atlng products and meeting quality standards that had been develIII lou (no tcred by pa [g n rati ns. TIler w' v ry litd Innnvatl n or inv ndv n s in Japan during the ,,'" II 1 r \) I (II 2 UhB), In f t, tl kat ~y m w rk d against I \J tIlt.' pill I' Ii HYIII m 111'1I) lllad, ch "14' unrleair rblc If 'nOL
(0

I'

U2

Behind the Japanese Bow

illegal., Ooc:e Japan hatl achievecl a minutely' defuu;d polithial, eCeJI).OmLc, and etiquette, s~stem. the culture' became relati~~h~ static. The epm!ept of: kat ~eT:l (!cign zen]" or: /'¢~E)Utihuali;nl.PJoveme'Q:t; I, for which 19panese

why Ja~ro1 achieved such _a hi~h rate af; WQductivft~ iit s11ch a sh0tt pel'ioo of tinie (besides free access to. dIe marke,t$of the. Unitea' States and ~uro~,and'Q,th~r_ e~t~maif,actor~ ~tich as ~ther ,peQple'~ ~a.rs _~~
sbartsightetL

iu:cllisoy is now worla famous, is a very recent addition to the japanese
Way.

,It was n~t untiJ the 1'950s that: th.,e !apap:es~1ie'Q;ame reall;y,£'tee

to

in-

japanese give~ 'them ,ci;resensitiVity and many of the fu,ndamental skills
so important to the Qreatfon of new "attractive, useful products. Until very recentlwalmcst every Japanese had the e¥c Qf an artist and a significan,r-p,etGent~ge of the -population h~dt'he hand. artist as well. lh 1958, I predicted that Japanese fashion. designers would conquer

trddua.e kai zen.- to utilize tHe'it skills in de'Sig;rril)g newpr:oduGtoS or reaesjgt1ing @ldone~ to .snit tpeil' ~~tes. Freed frqm eenturie$' of pqfilical, e~.lj.ll(Dmte, ql'l.a social: reI1ress1ap,; they btQugnt an eil:ttMrd1:r.lary amount df.ener@t, direction, and aesthetic abiliry the uhalhmge of .dctsignlJ1g new thin:g,~, There Wffe no nibnos, no. ingrained merital b1ecks, about how things should look; and some of their 'erutbe~ de.m:ns-in shoes, (\IT, e~am.ple were bizarre to We~tem eyes" ,But theire.uitmallY o®ndidomtd aesthetic sense and pnysiGal skills plus their propensity to humanize ordinary utilitati<!t't things qU±ck1y~,~me i'(;), the{0r~. Within ,a ,ijecad~' the Japanese were known worldWide tor both 'fhe quality and' design of d:ieirproducts. The spesial aesi~n ability of th€ Japanese is: also a gX:,Q~l+ct of,tbeiI k2!ta:-~ed Cu:ltuIPj ~¢gin1'}ing With then wt-ititj.g system and in~lll.iing their h:m!dicraltsand their ttaditienal fonnali2eH etiquette" all of which ate learned and transmitted by speeifickata. The training that aU Japanese receive 'as part of their basic, edueation, and the feel for, form 'and order they develop as part of becoming

to

pol1oies) wa~ b,~¢au-se ct>fi us kara-ized pilture, lndludrqg everything £tom the prmcipleo£ wa QI ha:nhony t,Q g!'Q~isn:i-anU selB.:"Sacrifl,ce Q£ the individual Ier <the whole. Japanese obsessieh with prQCeEses- th~ir"P0st~r95'O' "religion" of kat een, or striving _c~lltinuously to improve t.wery-thing: the): make ~ and their equa1l~ PQ,werfulohsession to-' he number one in the world (beeGluse mastery is the ultimate l?urp0se of eyety :Leata)fueled their ~pirit and their l!nerlW,

Packaging Makes Per-feet
SlIperim:

Jilpanese ~ndustry-. Japanese packaging is also superiI,Jt' and 'is .3.11Pro_acheii
ur equal~tl. ill'yo;nly a '£fuv o,thel' cQvn.tries. Not s}.l1.'pris,ingly, thlll:. Japahe:5e II" just as ciliscriminatihg about packagitlg_ a$,theY,ar . abcl.ut ~he ,~r~duc11S lh y contain. Prnduct packaging must n'6toruy be qght) when",lt is soM It must be wrapped and ti!!d in th:e right W?;yto 'satisfy, t'he innate pectadons of the Japanese. For a vatiety of ~Kitl:gs tka.tare wrap1Pi=-a~r n 1 sed there is a specific lflRd of' strmg or cord that is re§.uired. Sub$tt~ tllring some other lditd -of s~ring would-t;lO;t on.l:y:~. a g\-aring error; it ould result in a strong emotional r'eactioll.fram·the teeipient;. If a.das&'y lore committed such an oversrgi!:.t, its whole image would Stiffer. CRSOI1S for the packaging sopetlority of the Japanese mclude their
I

Clesig6. ani!! pr~o.uctiVity are not the- orily things that distinguish

or an

the world within ten year:;,. I wa~ QPth,tils'tiC. The conquest is not yet Gfiffiplete but ,they-a:re in th~ftbnt ranks and still gaining momentum.
Prcducr

designers in other categories

are doing just as well.

ultural

I'l

I

d

WlliP

and beauty moo everything from boxes to InR' paper. Many of Japan's traditioual forms~of packaging, made of nse of
woods, or handmade II onsumer
II

emphasis on aesthetics

harmonv

and their

~kill in ttanslatlrrg' :their i:lighlV themselves

Production as a Religious Experience
Japan's success in produ tivity Is nnblaacm w rld and i. viii hi III virtu Ilv v r hi m
d
It tll

, I, 1111110 1, ther b audful III k of I andl ra I rt.
Fr
!

paper,

are

t

rh

'~y lin

'kly
t'TH

husin'
lhlll

I {)('ll rryln r t
('Ill

pr du t in Japan learn

ilL

Iii II

Jl

I uLl IIf

Cn

ItI1~dn,lil tn ~
II H Jl

Irnpmtun

as tho product, Just as
nil lrr II 1t5Its

P

II

much

114

Behind the Japanese

'&w

Kata in 13usip:essll5

Seeing Kata in Action
Visitotsor

newTesidents who want to see one of the most impressive-> and impertant - dernoJ}stratians <,;l kat~ in Japan naye; ;only to go a

Snow Whitebran~ of sake fQr fifteen ge"nerations, is like stepping baok in time. The j:!ulilic areas of the huge_, ttatlitfortally c$rfled headquarters building llte -furnished and oecorated with impeccable aesthetft: t-aSte reflecting tl:le arts and era£t:s (3:f Clld Ja.pan. Em:f11~y\ee$ conduct them-1iehres

MitsukQshi, Matsu~akafa. or Tak'ashi:tnava department store (or any other leading departIl,lent store) just before thE,'l opening hour pfl 0 A.M, and enter the store the moment it opens .. At Mitsukosht's, Ginsa brancb in J"okye, unifotthed staff can be seen through the large plate-:glass doors and- windews makmg final 'Preparations {er the epeaing. At approximately one-minute before the hour stdke-s, a braidedrepe is removed from the handles 0f the center doors, All of the doors have already been unloeked and the TOpe on the c~ter door is-just a sign that fue.store is ndt yet -officially open. AS soon as die tope is removed staff members take up p0_sitionsto the sides of each of the half d(\lzen dpOIS and stand at attention, forming the ~il!td of receiving tiim. assoGlated with vel)' formal occasions. By eoincidenee, a huge clock on the tower of the Wako department store across the street b~gins tpIling loudly ten ,seG.ou€ls before the hour. The:re is a dramatic build-up. At exactly 10 A.M., in perfect timing: wrth t'het.olling bell of the clock, the statf in the Tecceivingline bews irr Ul'liswn as a signal that tna waiting Qus'tomeis'may enter. AU floor personnel, mostly attractive women, are at their stations, trimly unifcmned ami slla:ndingat attention. Managers are positioned at key areas On each floor. Additional staff, often including the floor managers, are stationed at the e8n__a,1-at9r landings on e!lc.ldlQQr. .All bow and call Out irasihaimase! (ee~rah-sfiy-ee~mah-'Say) - "welcome!" - to customers who come dose to them, Manage:FS often call out aMiyo ga~aimasl,tJ (oh-high-yoe gp-zie-mahss) - ('good morning! I' -as well as "welcome. " It is an impressive example of rhe·form and order - the kata -of the [apanese Wa,y and i~fndicartve of the care and thoroughness with which the Japanese, do thin,g$c, He kasa visible in the department store radiate T feelings of efftciency, confidence, trust, and security-all of which arc part of ~he .reason why mest foreigners who visit Japan are so enamored of thiS" aspect of tIm culture. JUSt visiting a department store is oft· n enough for first-time visitors to say, "Now lund rstand why ih japanese are so successful!" Many Japanese companies ar ven m t r prei nt rtve multll nnl kata-laed behavi r in 111 tn er tnt: . Vl.lrln~ K\ nl hl S lk I1r w t1j,t

with ceremotrihl politeness,

treating

.... isiters

with a refitted etiqUEtte tha,t

Wes1,ie~m:r$ asseciate with old-style royalty. The annosphereexudes competenGe,.confidence, quality, and a serene wtsdem, A week after my visit to Konishi 1 was greeted with exacrl.Y the same
etiquette

TOKYO, a firm especially noted tor if& m:te-mationalized p<'1lid€s ,and practices. This would seem to ihdidate that there is inaeed a movement
In }apaneseeompanies totejuvenate (or resurrect) traditi0nal1fata.-<ked behavi@r among then employe-es. One <iii the ffipst_conspicuous e):Campl,es fthe eontinuing'.effidenty of o Japan's kata-ired system is tn.e amazing promprness of it~'~mmuter and lung-distanGe tsains. The famed "bullet trains" in particular are -a:t pre1 e asfinelv tunedwatehlts-departing and arriving on the second. This kind ef absolute attentiGlnand dedicatiert to detail :and effioienq ue among the attributes that Japanese owe te die kata (aetor in their culture nd will sorely m,iSsif too roan'fot the kata disap'pe~r.

when visiting the corporate

headquarters

of .RikkGman

in

Camp

nv In It ml (betwe .n

~nk

nd Kub .), mnkrJl

11f' dit'

nil d

Weakil.esses>~Q£ Japanese SY$tem tha

117

5

Weaknesses of the Japanese System
The New Playing Field
Japan's remarkable kat;'! culture 1-l9.~_ tradition,\1Uy had its we.a:k'ttesst"oSas well as its ,strengths. As long as the country will; isolated from the rest of tHe world, the -inhereni fai1,ings of the system w~re m.ostly kept bel9w the sll~ace: The J~anese were cQn,dittoped to accept the negative aspects of their behaVior ftmnul:IS, sacrificing their intlividuahty and independence On the altar of harmony and the national P.Quty. _ An A.merican b~sin¢ssmati. who has lived in Japan since the mid9-50s 'and is bilin~ual pinpointed one ~f the primary weaknesses of Japan'~' kata-lzed ~ystem. He said, (lri). toclay'sJapan the playing field is ~hangmg constantly While the ka:ta remain tlie same. In traditional, lsalat~a Japan the kata served as specific, absolute guidelines for all behavior, Newthev are often a trap that regularly leach; the Japanese over the eageY

t

He furthf:,f commented that the Japanese turned kata-ized behavior into a ntuat and as a ritual it was unassailable. "How could a behavi r be {wt~ngl if it was sanctified ritual? To the Japanese offeudal Jape nand s~U to a considerable degree -life was ritual and ri ual was ltf . That IS the truest form of psychopathic behavior." Donald Riehl, the noted Japanologist and writer, has obs rved rhe r "[npan ssen ss" l. of '1\ a neurotic symptom.

Sti'll Mclay when thitir behavior 1,-5 challeng~d the Jap:a£l;es~ fr~qu~ertt:1:y ay, ip so many words, "Don't question our behavior. You are,orttiaizing the Tttuals that make llS'what we'::lte! Y:O_u must urtderntand and accept us the way we, arel" As'&in:g: and exPectj.ng. the J~al'rese to chatU1e their cultural Stripes does, of course, represent a threat to the t}lings they hQlq mosc sacred and vital to their identity. However, they re'ct>gtliz.e, that they must change, and must al~o 1fifl"\{e,mlllch 'roore of an effqrt to understand the rest of the wosl . This means they must teptid1atesoro.e Q£tkeir mes.t cherish.~d ~ays. A the same time, must Japanese are nat aware ef why, thn do what they dQ; or what they might lJe mis~lp;g because of confotmlty ~(\"1 tht; Japaaese Way. Most of them ~re absorbed hy their kara mentality and continue to emphaSize its -i;l.rong p~,jnts ,!ii'S: the u:lt:iln-atesocia.L fo:r,mulSl that the fest vf me world §hQuta adopt. Some trf the most Vehe'meat Japanese eiitit:isrn I have" ever heard d1e Am.erican way 0fdoiQg rhings was couched in terms of ~ata - in this case, the fa~t that Art'U:!:r:iCa~hnveno.cliscernikile k.a~ in much of their benavior. But with :groWing exposure to Qt}:tertultul'cs, Ill-Gfe'and- more [apaoese re b~ing to realiW that they live in a kind of kata-i"zeil' fish.iJowl~ that theif s0C:ie_t;y rule py f9rm and f0rmulas and in a sense, in many is ur 'as, is emptvof the ihdiVi€lual human c!{)urent tlJ_atl\tiakes' up a 1;1lucih I 1 .re complete and satisfying emotional and spiritual life. S11Gh p-ersons or· beginning ta que.stIl"ln die traditi~l'fal '~lt!lral values and to break Ih molds of the past. One way of gr;aspjng the .ongoing importance and role of kata~ized IIftitlldes ·aRa manners in the li;-ye,:;; li1:est japanese, however! is to view of rh overall system as a minutely 'detailed and perasive religious cult, in which bbtp the thinking and peh'l-vior_ raf the members are prescribed nnd the system - at least in formal and -busirt¢.ss situ:a~ibi1S is enlot-eea wlrh military sterness, While the feudal laws of Japan have l€lng's:ince " lpp ared and the cultlike behavior that WcaS aeJ11anded of an [apanese I n W fax more relaxed, most Japanese continue ttD e:xbibit" traditi.onal HIl nd b havi t to a degree chat distinguishes them from all other nl1t.~lmnl groups. Iki-kata ( ~k -k h-t 11)I or "way of living," might have been called the 1111 tu Dr moth 'r karn 'If JI1]1110 in 'srll r tim 5, wh n the way of liv. ~ ! 11 h ndlvlUli I w dt rly I r 1"1 Ined 1 Y 1 I J Ins" c cupation,

ot

a

llS

Behina the Japanese Bo~ While the kata

Weaknesses:of the JalJanese System

119

and oth<::r :spetific factors. Wi!hip_ these feudal catt:gories the way ol living was basie;;tllv Rlies_c~ibed and etifome:d 1Jy group consensus and peer preSSure, as well, as- hYy law. The Japanese were PfQgt'arnmed to know and farrow the style o'flLvmg that: was ~stab1ished f(')f their bun category and status, Th@ various lki~kat:a were not subject to individual interpretatiOJ1:, and they remaihefl vlrtualI¥ uQ0w.nged fro:®. one ge,netlilion to tihe fiext. Remnants 0f this cultuta1 conaitioning are readily discemilJleinjapan today. FeQpie are acutely sensitive .about iki-kata-> ti<n'!Rs well ITS that as of ethers _:_and are c.0liltinuolls1y concerned and talking about it, Any ~ember ef Q' GPropany er' other group who lives in a waY mat is: niarkedly dlffel'ent from the others endangers his er her,stanOirrg with the group. ) l can be personally as well as pr.ofess ion ally damaging to be c,0pspielJousiy different W0ID others in your Own groy.p. Said one English-speak41g ]apane:s'e female emploYti:e of a major company, "I am like anaiienina lapanese'fa~ who h@;Ppen:stb speak Japanese. De pe0ple around me are always asking me why I <UI1 differ. ent, why I speak BnglUih, why r think and sonietimes behave-elifferenrlv than what they do. It just drives them Hpth~ wall," Confonning to theexp~cted iki-lcatra is ex serious strain on the Japanese b:euausc1:t is tole playing t& an extreme aegt.'ee. It: is'llke-living on a stage where one's performance is under censtant. survelllance and acceptable. This factor is the source of~. great meal of frustration and anguish Iii Japan tooay because more and more young people 'ate attempting to express theIr own individuality, to, deliberately be different from oth I' people, ,especially the huge.mass of stereotypical [apanese. Of course, ali mQr~ 'of these yelung. people succeed in breaking out ofthe iki-karu Qlolds of the past, the _less likely they will be to conform to orh I' kat;a-ize.,dfacets of-the Japanese system. Disennhanemenf with the Japanese system goes beyond new-a ' teenagers. Labor Ministry statistics show that job-hopping arnoniii' m1dclle~agedtmenin major corporations, almost unheard of In the 1970~1
is groWing rapidly, Dissatisfaction with work and a great r sonal freedom has turned job-hopplng from t ho er mi. trv spokesperson. Ev n m r c m lling han J b·hol1plnu I Ih numb r f japanm n wh tiro II 111' 1 tin I.' f.!h Y I h· lIli nation frnm Ill{' IInrtOI 's WlIlK[lhuik ('"II lin- lind (1I11nlh. II I any failure in form, dialogue, Of tee and personality weakhess-as
t

fu·~tor has, helped p:reserv-e,. and sustain some -.Qf We, of Q"aclitjl)!!naljapanl it :has we~W against'the flowering of modern art, where indiVIdual intetpr:eJ;ation and iligml> mfiraagtaation are eIteIL key::; l;"Q greatness, Critics say. that the art world in Japan 15- so rigid and stilling that it produC,e.s.artists who ate Jeehnieally polished but .lacking in emotion and fite; ''Fhis has ,resu ked in droves of young. musiCians,.an.a paint:'~rs'f1eeingJapan and establishingcoIQIues abroad. Because the life-style of Japat\'s younger generations is -ufldergoiq.g profound (1ha11&es, there is a conspicuous ,degree of a,pparenr.artificwhty' abQut Planyb! the hybrid 8"ttitl;tdesa,ncl. fO},IIlIlthat one now encounters. r~Many people in Japan, are ne IObger real/'sajd onecritiie.. "Japapese whe Sptlak Bnglish are faking it. Some of them cannot" be teal even in )apaa:ese. The)' <ire~g it.in both languages and cultures." After Westerners regah attacning' growing 'signlfic.ance tt>the distincb've Japaaes.e way of doing thi.n;gs, particularly from the early. 1970s en; the Ja~an:ese themselve&c graci1:latly BkJ~~dup·em th~; ~hetI).ea,nd sean beewe even more fascinated than Westerners willi theitcultutal traits. Thh ha~ ted ta a growing debate about ~hether Ja,pan should give up its traditional enlturein 0riler to @emore in tone with Westt;tn countries.
!'l,rts,

ne Or-vQice ts. seen-as a serious chara _ being un-japanese and, therefore, un-

Right Brain Versus Left Brain
Doze-ns (jf tlYeorie,S have been ,ppt fprth _by japanese psychologists, ociologists, businesspeople and others in an- attempt to e;t,plain tynical J panese attitudes and behavior. Pn?bably the most startling of these theories was one advanc.ed by. Dr. T:adano4u TJJun(:>da, f€ltmedya teeturer in otology and audiology at the Tokyo MedicRi and Dental Univer~ Icy (TMDU) and now a .Plofessor the: Department of Auditory 1 is rders at the Medical Research Institute ~f TMDU, To Tsunoda, who published his theory in a book entitled The lapaoese Srain - Urtiqueness and Uniyers.ality \I:aishukan Publishing Co:, , • okvo) pres nted data that he said proved that the Japanese use theU' hrnl: irt r ntly than ther pe pie, and that this difference accounts for III un] U ness of t] J p n sway f thinking and acting. I. un 1 rrri ur rhe unlou • f rh - japan se dire tty 0 th ir I I WIlli",!:', 11' II th JUl' j\l'1I It l jO,ll(1Il ·.~V h cau t.hey lip Ak. ~h' PI ~IIIIWlll1W' J h·1 ,Iuw V'I, III L the ruhur cume nIl. Ihe

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1'20 Behind the Japanese Bow la,pan~eGr:eatecl the latlguage in their own cultural image. Over the course of time, it :be~c;:ame The PflI:n:arv n'!@dium'Gethe_€Jlltu)'t!c, helps and t'f) sustain it in a very direct wa¥, but the language could noli have come befere the cuttul'e.,-' . If I llP'der-stand Dr. Tsunoda's <thesis~ dQo;eetly, he be'lieves that -the grQtPine~C'e of vowels in the Japanese language causes the Japanese to pereeiee and interpret, na~lJniI and II):arpmade 's;Quntls differently than

]apamseway, ini}uences, thl! pqttern& e:?f thoQght ami behavior of the Japanese. THis seems ihcl.iSpu~ablel and I ha.ve long ~e¢l key Japan~.e
w:e5tcl:s atle'Olpting tv exp;lainJapanese attitudes and actIOns. in Dr. Tsunoda gOOSe> b~yend the idea of the l~ngva~e in£litiencing 'the mental processes ~£ the Japanese. He s3ysthat wnen tfi~ l'apanese use, er hea:ra,- foreign. lang\lagl;!, their ~rill;n shifts hemispheres! gCiingfrom .~he right s'iti@, hich He says is tHeirtt:ermalGJ}:lerating'moot!, '\'.e the left s~d~, w because Of ~siedi£ferenc;:es in the sounds of the langua~es, When this automatic sMt oce.ulS, a~ordit:1g to Dr. Tsu.nodal'sfueoty, the Japanese are no longer able to tlfirih like Japanese and $liddtlnly fi~d themselves in an aHen_'WQ:r.ht LiStening tb.arfd spcaKi::ng_ attireign languM~1s dws .3. tr'3umatic e~~ perience fm.th~ Japa,nese" adds E4". Tsunoda, and the longe~ th:eYTemam milie lefr~brain (for.eign) mode, the LQ~er it takes fat them to 'revert to the JaQanese mode and retove-t hem the ~ed~l1c'e. In hearip.g(~n~hr:ai);:vac.tiv:ity rt;$po..use tests conducted on himself, Dr. Tsuuada Sala It took biro ·appro~ately seven days 'to return to llorI)ihl after participating in an EngliSh langu~g!'l.sonfenence, He ,goes on. ~Q suggest th.at extensive> exposure to foreign languag~ Q1,1 so befuddle the Japanese that thetr: right~hoo.iliL n-emisph~re 18 short.:eu-cuited, preventing them fr-oni being able [0 think creativ:ety. This does not app.eaF to be the case in P,J3li:tical appliaation, however, Rince many J~pan's most crea~iV'e,thinkers, andinfiQ;trato:nt ~peflk.s60le
>

other Ileople, re:sultring in fundll1l'l:tmnl differences m. tife way the)( think and lJehave. He s'ay's'thaf this language difference results in the Japanese

generally notd~tinguisl:tin:g? b,elJWeen reason andetnotipnbecause they 'a different Si.ae, ClftIle brain than m6st pellpl~. In fact, Dr. Tsuhoda says the only other people .in. th!e world :who think like the Japanese are Poirnesians, w:hQ~elarguage ts also ,rich mvewelS. Without gettlr;\g inte )fhe+ od1nlillicafed details of Dr. Tsunoda's theory, the variety and number of obviOl,ls eJ,<:cepl'ions to it s_uggestvery 1~1?tQ~gly that dler~'is much more, to Japan's uni~ud cnlrure than ·d'ifferm1tes et6ughJ en '1,,:y a characteristic of the language. tikt!' the f~mo.usJapanese ftog ina well. whiclt could sl;J~only a spe~l of the.. U1iiv~l1se, Dr. rsunQlh's vie\\1 of tfie origin: C}fthe Japanese Way, iis seen from the depths of his own cultural well, caused him to look in the~w:nJ)ngptace for his answers, Since he could j"see" nothing tlmtaccoHnted for the,dis~ Meave mlnd-set .arid behavior of the Japanese, he assumed it was caused qy some: internal physical fa!3tQf:'\:nd chose thiJiq?anes,e b~ain as the source, This is the ultimate in wishful thinking by the. JapaneSe, going well beyond'such pre>vlous claims that Japanese skin is different from the skin of ather people (fhetefofe foreigIji-tnade cosmetics are not suitable for Japanelle); th~t J af)anest!' intestlnE\S ~,e longer than foreign 'intestines (theJ:dbre certain imported (@ads'are .not apprbptiate for the Japanese); that sinGe i::he [apanese do n0t: understaod dY~mselve~, there is no way foreigner-s can Imderstand th~m; and so forth. TIlis.is part of the,great1hlemrna of the Japanese. They know they dtffer from othef people' in many cultural ways, and there is a strong culllU1"a~-ddven rompulsiQIl to take pride in these differences and to glory in tii'em. Yet there 'is 'also .a yeaming, especially among those bom after 1950, to be "llke" other national groups and to be ace pt d as "n rrn 1" by them. Although I disagree with Dr. T unodt 's rh ry th 1 h n tor J pan languag I • pon 1bl· or Ih IUlI\ ,ttv 'llUIl tl J i I •
pr,oceSll input '1.\Ul

of

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English and are regularly eJq1loseclo its sounds. t Furthermore; it is technically pos,o;ible fer

aRyOlle~ wdu ding , the panese, to speak the }apanese'lffi)guage in a very non~Jap'an~se,way. When foreigners speak Japa,n,ese~ a non:·Jaganese wax, the Japanese jp m re or tess expect it. They often ti~ not: ap~r(1l~'e it, h!.It tIrer are net of h eked by it. If, on the erher l,1and, a Japanese speaks tneJanguag7 in a uforeign" way, especially in business and; <>!het forQ;lai or semiformal ruatt ns it is totally unacceptable and unf~rgivable. If the s'peak.er I rsistB L~ using the language in a ,nol'l-Jgpanese manner, he @r she is

Wh th r Dr. Tsun da's theory is right or wrong, it: is in line withthe , IIII l'rv: tiona of on foreign linguist, quoted earlier, wbo says that the 1 I • • h v R r nd n y t t g rd what they say in English or any tIl It 'I !'I r 11(11 Irlll~U 11(' unr ul, ~ having no bearing on what they • u]l thlnle r bell ,1\11 l mnv I he -for' 11 r h hinding. Thi suggests

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Weaknesses of the JapaneseSy,stem

lZ3

meeting of the minds is v.irtJJally impossible. The,;f'aet that most foreign dialogue with Japan is not and never has been conducted in Japanese Isuggests the immensity of the ptoplep:h Mnih ef the friction between Japan and the Test of the world is" of GQurse; th~result of inadequate 'find failed eommuntsations ~ of the Japanese and foreign sides speak,iE\gon different fteqUl<neies. ProbaBly the most QOJ)'lo:um e;xample fil{ miscommunication between Japanese and foreigners results 'from the .relustance of the japanese te say "no" dearly and u,rtequiVtlCally, There aI!;1 halt a €l.ruen or more explessiQns tha't areGGlIlllIionly use8 to express the ncgatlve, hut they ~.:. lead foreigners who fail to ttan~latethem properly. Typic3ny when a Japan~se says '''1 will think ie over'l they mean If 11m not interested." When they say st>mething lS."difficult" they mean i~ ca:l)nf?t be clone. When they say "I will do mY' best" tbey mean what you ar:ea&king for is impossible and YQu might as well forger it.

nothing to do wtth the nature of the language. The exact SH1:n-~ 10gi.t:a1 thoqght can, be cQnstructed in Japanese and English in more or less the same nuifJ.:b:er,€If werds, bdt rhleliveted in J apa1'l'ese it ·will seund more direct, and often rude." There are- appa.~en1'lv: number, of reasons why the Japanese often a
react more. pos'itively 1l.Q English than th~y, del to their own langT:l~ge" even when their English is so poor that any conversation with thtmi is. awk.ward and frustrating. This resp,onse apparently derives from an overwhelming: desire to practice their English, to deP1.on.swate their internatiqn-aiability, OT to accomrnodate the foreigner. It is also common for the Japanese toautomaticaJly presume that foreigners do not speak [apanese-« and sometimes to ighore tnet'act when they do. Which of these 't%.Bcsons 5paramount-depends on the individual. 1 The' Japanese image of foreigners as, not being ablet:o speak ].ap~nese, as outsiders who eannot come to know or become Japanese under any circumstances, '~d thetefote. as tempetary v~itOESregardless, of their status in Japan, results in tneir tending to tegani all fOl'etgners more or le$$as "gue~s." And as 'gueStS theyar:e::generally accorded special treatment. Speaking English (gr other f0Ieign laliguages~ hl'ilp$" kee,p iot.eigner-s in the foreign guest categoIJ and allows them to e'$ect and presume do the special treatment' the japanese typieallv lavish. on visitors, Their: mistakes and mishaps are common:ly indUlged to .a, remarbble degree, and individual [apanese will oftetLgo out of their way to help foreigners. Allowing and/or: eRw.uragin.g the J,apanese to speak Englis'" even though you may speak their Language, san -go well 'beYQnd, the gtlest r atment syndrome if yQl!- knew what you are doing and cancontidl the IIi utation. As Dr. Tsunoda says, Japanese thmk and behave different~ when functioning in. English. Their kata ..ized ways' 80 nIDt carry over, degree of the 'Cultural chang-e"that 'Occurs depends on the individlilt's ability in the fmejgn language:as weO as on his or ht;r knowledge of md experience with the-foreign culture general. When foreigners are able to cemaumicate With the J:apane-se in I·tlijli h, the communication may be complete ills@far as themdividusl, [upanese i concerned. But how effective the English-speaking Japanese lin in ammunlc clng the same understanding to non-EngLish speak-work r r th r is an thcr matter. Problems arise when the fli ~ n sl "11' r~ t rnu h from ngllsh- p king Japanese, who have rill' own ~ l of h lldl npN wh 'n comrnunfc doH' with rh r Japanes . '11 I lily I Ilk. II ,ll II I bt· u l tl Hn I h ttJ dr W th J flU -8'

The Downside of Speaking
Japanese
There is another aspect of foreign language conrrn;unication. in Japan that p"Lays a. sigpinc;;I,nt role in relationships he tween foreigners. and the Japanese. It often happens that speaking. Japanese well or {iridy well can be more (:)f a 'd.isadvantage than a help; This situation OCcurs' when the Japanese concerned react-by 'treatIng the -foreign. speaker as a'Japanese ratifier than as"'ll;foreigner - the point being that the Japanese tend to be more accommodating, hespitable, and lenient toward foreigners than they are to other Japanese. Most foreigners· in ]apaa piel u.p on dris Japanese peculiarity very quicldy) and some develop considerable skill at using it to their advanrage. SOme also use it as a rationale for not making any serious att rnpt to learn the japanese langJwge. Sa,ys a bflingual foreign businessman, "Japanese is a (I ad d' I Ilgua~ in the sense that when you speak it y u are xpected t t jop n .

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We<Jkne~es of the-japanese System

125

sittlatiorm :where single individuals {are concerned. But in important mattees concerning .sev~ral peeple,regatdless .(l)[ the subje;cr, it is much more likely to "be 'ine,f['ectiv:e and clangetous, ifnot rataI, espeCially if only one or two on the Japanese side speak inglish. The foreign:ei. t):pi€.ally goeS awav thinking he 01' she has made a point ilnd it has been aoe.epted, wl:Hle tnen.olh.Englishs.p,eaking Japanese are likely to-be confused,frustrated, or antagonistic. '

usually effective .in relatively

writing -~uch as En.glish - is processed and stOFed in the left ~ide of the

lDraitl" This is' ap(Jaumtly the reasQP: why the japanese (and6ther Otien~als who use Kan-Ji) have a greater, ability, 1:0 ~teeive and 1,;I;_s.e ~h01s, ",bleh -are noW'most cemmerdy seen in advertising.

Channeling Competitiv:e
Speaking in Tongues
't\tlQthet piee.e of evidenGe that the Japanese language is not, tespnnsible fOr the attitudes ahd actions of the Japanese is that 'there appears .to .be absQlutelY'not1:rl.t:lg s:;l€red 3houtUthe language. It is chopped, diGedl aad blended 00, she mood Or 'needs of the speaker. The formal language taught tn schools is not what you hear .ont in Jhe. real w-014d.New",¥ords, USually adawted from English, aTe added alr:nQst*daily -.andusuaU y make no sense at all to .either Japanese or English speakers until they are broken dQWR and can~fullye:xplained. It 'is·appat:~ntly,official [spanese governrhent polley that c..eJ;tam topics that' are likely to be viewed negati~ely by the public are referrea 1:0 in lapaaized: Engli1\hWbrds .. The advertiSing. industry ,also :regularly introtiuGes new made-up words, The 'role and importance, of new words in Japan is indicated by the annual 'japan New Wmds & Popular Words t\wax::ds, ;'. 'spo{t$Gted by the publishing finf1:Jiyu, KokUJhm-sha, 'publish.ers of the anfiUal Bask Informatian and CUTofent Teehnowg;y dictionary . . The winning word in the new wpr,ds division in recent contest was sekushttru ·hata.shimente (say,.kuu-shah-rue bah-reh-ehe-mane-eee), or "sexual harassmenr," My all-time favorite is buru baado (buu-rue bahdo.e) .or "&lue bird;" a popular ear model. 'When this. name was first ititt:oduGe&, one of my friends, who already knew what it meant) left me puz~ling for hoUTS, tr.ying to figure, OUt what it referred to. Aneth r f my faV'ocite:s is luiJ'Su'"mettJ (koe-sue may-toe), which means "c ur me t ,,11 and refers to female golf caddies. Keeping up with th changing im II in Japan is an unending language I s 11 that ft n 'ImLj 'S II W Jl befuddl s,

Power
Uriivetsit'): of'Toky@ social ;s_tienusr Tak~hi Ishida di~agrees with Dr. TSTIn@da's'lefH1ght h am theor:ies abont Japanese behavior. He atttibutes the di&tintti've beh~yi;t)<rof the }ap:wese to, what he calls "the integration of conformity and 6omQentlElll~!l In 'his- sc;epa-no, COm(;H'mity pf the Ingh~t order is a~hieved through the creation and maintenance 0f speGui~ groups. Witbin ~ach Jap6l.nese'group. me:robers£Ompete fiercely against each other tQGont-inuQusly p.E0ve,fueir loyalty-tf1; the .. mug ana g to contribute tl;) itS, gmWl\h, th~r~by tnalcing thegtoup dynamic instead of static, Bach'group in tum competes j'ust~e:tcdy against aU othergroups, This: competitive-powered ooriformity not only generaees tteIfit::adous energy, says PrnfessQr Ish:i:da,it also makes it possible for the Japanese to effect abrupt changes in ti1.eir attitut1es~nd behaVi,0,): h!:ec.1lusehe mQt ment-a ~up qeman:qs 4 new attitude, competitive tova1ty witmn the conformity-oriented group rakes (}yer and the 'm,em!;,ers outdo themelves to c~nfOtm to the ~ew, dernands, Professor Ishida notes, how.ev,eE, that there is both a positive. and a 11 gative side to Japan's competitive conformity withingrpups. @n the !"lOsltive side the system provides fot the resolutiOn of inrragtou:g frictmft nnd conflicts byeompromise (he€aus.e they thre,~ten its eedstence), and it nsures that the group will act togetheras"a single ',mit wheh tnn~atened fmm the outside. " . 1 ms] r weakness of groups bound togetlrer by COQl~e:tiIive loyalty, onrtnu a Profess r Ishida. i~ that the system virruaUy eliminates the I)' bilily o lOY member f the gr up taking individual responsibility of uy In L Anor! 'r w kn is char n a gr up ets ut on a particular 1:1)!Ir I! 0 Ullinn II l' Hem Iy dim lilt ro limp th action, ev n when it [II I I III 10 l or J II JIIwlI\1 In the " up I n h· ~r(Jup

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th d tors lind m Irk 're r In J ipnn WO II ~r rluu III, J UI~1I11 'r; • r M 1m-I nn I h lIuhl IIldl' Ill' Ih' I III WI, \ h Ie ~ hOll

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126

Beliind the J ap;me:se Bow

We:~kn'e$Sesof the Japanese S)'stelll

127

q;ln!Ql;mit:y in a-clesed in~group system can be tr~ced direetlvtt'il the vil(age system that emted fh:mt eg;rl1e~t times. from -the beginning of Ja~mn'~ history; most of its villages, elcisted in virtual iS01atioun-om e_p,«h athet because of the country's myriad n)9unllaiQ. rap_ges, as wen as numerous polipJ;::al qtvi&kms. -In the. e.ar:ly 1,6005 the newly established 'Iokugawa sRqguuat.e passed edicts fotbidcUngrasidentshqm moving out of' their villages, thus inst:itution~li;ring t;lie elesed -in-groups that were already commQIl-- to rural communities. ' With tHe downfall, of the Tok-ugawa regime in 1868, the new ~eiji government continued to ll~t the mOVement of people from villages,
,apparently

'Br9fesser Ishida,sars diat the origin of"the elements making,uli> hpan's

Japan on th e "CIark C'urve" :
The m,_ostprovoc:ativ:e theOry so iaradV<ineed byWes(~ schol-ij~~toe~plain th¢ 1aElane.§.eness of the Ja{J(lnese is pmbably Jacm (Sophiw Uuiversity professcir Gl'egory Glark's so-called Ct~uk ~~rve. Professor .Clark says ~he japanesencs;s of the Japanese is dit~"tly, ~ttmbu~ahle to ~hetrc~rre t sra-ge ef pst-hologiea:l!itltelle0tual deMelopment fmm emotlonal, tnstinetive principles' to logical, ratiOh91isti.c principles.,
y

and najionallevel.

villages. It and competition system @f thevillage{l in gav:emmeiIt on both a local

to, prev'ept exposure also went to great

civil t!ghts movements outside-of the lengths 'to adopt the i;n_.,gwup e,b_p£drtn\ty
to

As the pritnarv sponsor of theindustmilizatIop '&1 Japan v;unt t86'Ilon, the M.eiji_gevetnment s1'tol}glv backed the concept of all cornpahies also being managed as farhu;y or "yillage"enteqJIlses in a syst-ep_t that was qUickly institutionalized under rlgid.l?lar~rrcractle lea.dership. Smaller
eneerprises WeteGperateQ panies, like villages. very much like

smgle...ami1y f

units; larger com-

P(:¢{esst')! Clark relates tK4.s ilevelC!lpment'ru. }'itClCess to ffisqnetive uncl the gradual appearance d of va 1ues ti - d' 1ft \'-.a"ly •.illage -soeieties 1, lounli Ill" t· " 1 rational values as each society g6e& thri5ugh suc,cei'is~ve--_stagecS feu.8 ~ of ismandindust1ializ,at:iGl11.. He ~ays Japan is well be,?ind ~urQ~; Ame(:le-a:, and the Middle Hast rm this curve'mfecgn.oq:tic ano sOC:l~I._p-rogtess. , eh1T\g t;l1e peak of Om.Dr. Clark's 'icurve~! he snb'Ms Japan asappr'1>a me arc, which represents the ideal between instiltct'i1e values and rational values, He says that Europe, Al'ller!-£\i, and sume ?tnero1cier ccuntdes are_flOW on the downside of the curve, wheEe'-mq-~S'~uon~ are . perSO"'~ 1 . pnm an '1' se If.·~~-'>"I'd a-lTW'e-&--:at , , _!1Lli gain rather than tlehie'ill!g a rnuy nsn: " uV ' _, , tually cooperative spirit and 'Sy~.,rell1hat beneftts aU... t .. Or. Olarckis curve the_Glrymay prolfide '3. PdssiDI~ fta'rnewor~ for ~ncl~t,

.,

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.

l'Qationa1 GO~fefmity in japan w:~ stte-.ngthenetl by~ a universal educatiea system that emphasized group-spirit and harmony. abeee all other considerations. Mass news media thar:,appe~ed 'toUawirt_g the dQwnfilll of ilie Tokuga)va lih\)glJ.n\lte became an additional force in hom<2g-eni:zit.\
tae Japanese mind-set in the values of the Japanese Way. The Q_nlynews readers got W<IS- what the m.erlja managers andgovernmem censors felt would ptotectand strengthen national goals. Given the .nature of the traditional in-group values, the Japanese &a.wevery outsider as a threat. Since seeial. and: economic haxmoJLY was the primary aim of Japan's village group syStem, it Was necessary to control competition by defining it in terms of the group. Theonly practical way this. could be done was fercoIDFletitian_ to be expressed 'in terms of-loyalty to the group. Each member was expected to do his or her best to prove his or her loyalty. In pFesent~day Japan, thJ,s constant striving to prove loyalty incorp rae the individual's immediate group, the company, and 'Anally the n tion. Success in Japan comes primatily fr m pr ving one' g'{Oup loynlty . opp sed t individual a cornpll hrn n thus, by xl' n ion. In pr vlng on's J. parl
I

tanding does-not

and measuring personal and social values in s'oQlet)~. ~ut 11: answer the question of "what maKes a Ja:panesd' OJ;' e-~\am the whys of specific [apanese attitudes aad behavior. All societiesare no doubt somewhere QO the Clark esul;ve, -but none are, or have been, exactly- like the Japane:s~-, including Koreans ancl
Chinese whose val uesand wsttlmll. mose dqseIy rese,~b~e ,those ef J apan. The answer to the question, "What is a JapaRe.e? ts bO.th far m~re sophisticated and 'SpecUk than where they may be on ,a lOgJ.c~vex:&us m-

"t.

srlnct curve, . ,'_t 1 d.tl' b till today .the Japanese are forever asking. foteigne~~_ 11 t "l_e~, ..~ BeI II ve that the Japanese are hen (hen), which means, strange Wl . etd dly negative connotations. I W'<3S asked this queSI:1QH dozens ?f nmes III ! 949 when I firs went to Japan and was asked the same qu.e"Stll;}l'l Qver 'four d " des lar T, n he day of this writing, '3.boafd a plane about to art Iv( in Los AnK I '5 (rom Tokyo. ,. 'I h O-y r. ,kl kyo l1u. nes 'III. n who was t~ last p r on to ask 1l1~ I t rhou lu I hI J IIPW1 ". WI;I'l' Iwtl IrIlJ.Iglcd wlito.ntly to flnd a w rd II 11 would dl l'l'l wluu fill hlPIlIl~ t' W IIm'~1III ll! I k (Insr fI I nr

Wealfues_ses_qf the Japanese themselves to be), an:dJte.finallY said, <Lw'e watttto be, ... coarmenrall" 'I'his was tile first time I Maa heard the yeawng- ,of the, ) apanese expmssed in this term, and.I :wa:; delight~¢with the Sense and s,tyle ottt. Hqw Hb,soL~td'V9Pp.r.p'pdamj ll\hoilgfu All't:hings c@ns1Qereid the Jap<m:ese are changi.I,lifremarleably fast-espeCially so, gIven the scope, power, apq_ eJ;t~lusi~i1Z)r0£ 1il;tdt cul~.Ul'~. But . Qn a pry}cti.c:i;Lday-"p~~ay basis, partitula'l'ir in pmntiG<S anG! };,:u'sirt~ss-1i'the
bein$: the way th~y gercei\!e

SyStem

129

maintain

th~i:t

loyaley

and

SI.t{'lp0FtID\fGaUStl-t

tiley are not likelV to

quit, caimot be pC0tJi:0tetl (lver him, and, beca,use they depend upon him tq,puU them alQng with him as he asc6;nij~ th., rganijational

hitiael:-.

changes ate; eften difficult to Ciiscem. Frustrated fot:eign,. resident'S in Japan as well as many]apimese ott,fln say the Ja:panes~ ate ~h~gj:Q.,g for tlie worse instea4iI!;>ftke het:t~t. Ia il~:J:U'e cases tlIl5 means. they are bemate Jifipanese In die traditional sense. 1:bete ~ no :.denvi,qg that as ~e lor!;:~ of ~he,_:tra(;lid()nal kata w~ens, th,e j,a'),':!aties'e d'),aractet is clianglng in, ways that are already having a sigii:if1cantly: negative. impact on !;heir sOdew-juvenile Gtjm_e anq; r:am~ m.9t mate.riali~tp being amqug ,llie m€!stliQll$pituons Qf the elinn,8'es.
C'Qfi1irlg

This system creates a facade €If order anel. harmQny: ma,t is often an. nb,l"sioJ1! It- ils~ e01).tdbut~s to' the relati:~e imme-bility wi labor \l,mong J'4l;1:futs. fop ebmpa.tlies HeC~tl$e it is virtually irttposliible for an individual to be aooeJjted in a new g"oup except-at ;the b€lttQm__ wnen ytflUng and, at tbl;l top wheh~ld. The,Teare a .ci1ii:c number of slats in a gt:Qup,each Witn its own ranking. N@ ene wants to b~~h:<i'lvd aside or pu$heti down

by a Re-~€om.er. An'i>1'~r ~ey factor in the, 1iata~ized mentality or Japa-ri€'se managementis intoleranee 'tQW1i'Fd a:hy&oe. whp a~s,p:ot 1i11~y, thegameac:eo):,din~·to the rules of the syseem. Dewiations &om t~e ~o~m a~e,,~O,t wi'it!en down, but they become a per1il~fl_ent pallt of tne_ig:divldu~ S re>€Ol'd. A manager who makes this. kina of' cultural tniSta.:ke is tYWic-aUy~huntea (;)ff ofd:re pmmQtion ~scalat€lr and t,hereafullr is meved sideways ms1ead
ofu~ , tra-

Waves in the World of Wa
Whil~ Japan's, business facade generally pre~~Jlts !l w!'dt;l' o.f wa (4ar~ many) in eK~ellent if not perfe_ct wotrking :orner! reality is often quite different. In man:-y companies there are oveniding conflicts of Interest among' the section and d~F.lar~m:ellJ!man.agers as,ep:ch tFtes outdo 'or outII};meuv:er tl;\te <:trher to stay en die €:oipbrate escalator that carries them towaFd the limited number of top executive posts. Competition for promotion tg the hJgher levij;s' witlJJu a company often resulta Jn Ma.chta:ve'llian political u1.trigue that impae~s on the, attempts of outsiders to ab business with these companies, Projects often fail, regardless of the_~ merit, -because ot oppositilD1'l-from section or department managers seek~hg theit oWiLathrantage or to btoek the advantage of someone else. This politieal inf1ghting within U\:any Japanese companies .follow ,paq:ems e,fKata,s'et down-generattona ago, It is usually manifested in the behavlBr Ofgr-oUp51 made up of either sections (ka) or departments (bu) ,

One of the more serious "mista:k~s" 'a roanagei' Gao. lUa:ke i-a

tb

diti6~-bd'ut:ld ja'Panese\!ompany is to show too ~uch independen~e and inrliy.idaaUty in achieving su aesses t)u Mown finn a,ceeptiqg cre{;'lil'for them. The '.... pr0p,¢r~' way is for him te 11l;aintam,a ver:y hUIiilble manner and credit every,ooe exaep't 1ilins:clf. The cQniliiwtion of exclusive gmu~ orientation aad the, vertical structure oftr9:(;liti-Qnallapan~fie companies - the 01assic. py,tamid organization -often results in 'Vt:'f'y podr ;c():rrtmnoication between the departments within companies, inability tv delegate authority, and 'Very slow response tiI;:W--allfactor<s that f(1)Ieign businesspeople must contend with when dealing with Japane-se The more imernationaJized a Japane-se company, the more likely it is [0 have a so-called bU1'lchin (boon-cheen) or, "paperweight" structur . 'Th.e connotation here is that the organizational system of the bunchln mpanv has been flattened (as paper is flattened by a paperw lght) t

roms;

mak rh flow f c mmunicati
[apanes edtl' of th

who conspire

to advance

their own programs

at the

xp ns

f orhe r .

The kata-ized group sy rem pr t cts and sus ains it elf by a ring rnor or less as a single-cell unit. The chief rcgul rly tnkt.'Kcr dlt fur lb brillte nt ld n T c mpli ihm snt o lind ·r! OJ.(. kl'lCl Il!J rl It b,

n air. f'lyramfd system of otgnnization rnp nte arn (It 'nv rt t III I UT hln y r m until th y -\ r- lit phllc fli y 11Ild 111111 I I 11'lpllJlY I II V, I TI I w to "Wltl' IlUrI"WHIIy, I ml d~v"hl~1IIIJIIIII 11 'Hlllll1uukulh t, 1111 'ul 111'111 f to th t ru {l1mJ Nil lv u h
l

OO

Behind the Japanese ~ow

Weaknesses of the

JlIj?tll'

se Sy tem

131

Personal Failipgs
Viewed from the Outside the"Japarlese often appeal' to be caricaanes of eheir cul~ll1'e, sti\"k figures wh? think and behave¢.lh1y ~ one" w,aya way that was pr€lgnmnned mto th@mfrom infancy by rote ;condit:ion~ tqg. This impressi!'Jh is probably wr:ong as @fteR as .it is r.tgh~,b,ut,the eultural programming still undergone bv most ]apahese roms it difficult

,can

,arid .5Qtoetim:eS impossible fbT them to cope in a foreign environment. Am. arbitrary list~ng,ohhe "tyfJjcaJh Japal1~e weakn!!Sses tlre Jap~ese themselves often bring up include the: follOwing: 1. An inability to think and aet ipdependendy

2.
4. 5. 6.

Ali inability 'to take the lead in most situations

]., l\. tendency to tlIink in-terms ofahsQlute stereol:yJies

Th~,Flrac~ke ~f stereotyping ev.eryone in tenus of family, education" uru:vers:1.ty,company, company size}and posirion
A tendency outside
to

maintain

the status quo unti:lgres~ur!td from the .

Histiorically, the JlIpan~se e'ducation,al and Indusrrlal training processes were based on dCJI'lying and learning by repetitl n. Subject matter tn.sehcola was the~ame fQr everyone up through high school. Students learned by rbtc inellmrizatioA.. V ariationsIn the process were not permitted. This system created a passive population conditioned rp fo1l9W customs and Qrders, and worked agal~t ohmgearulinnovatioh. Basically this traditional leamibg ,aud ttaiping prQ~SS eontinues in Iaplpl today. It has weakened .and is under hea,V1 -preSsl!;re !;P ch'l\nge further, but both the px:.iv;<lte pl!ibli(,:lyes of most Japanese remain 'in and l the;grip, of the kata system, and change.-for good or bacl-is&low, The biggest.and perhapsroOSt'l3;,g,illlCatlt change in the systeM is' that in some co~panies and org;mi.zatjo~ gFqUP trea;tivity has'~een given the highest possi'Me prierity, and in.aividualcreativity b¥ m3vericl: re~earehets and nnketets is'UGW tolerated in some areas. Still, fne kata-ized culture. has given the. Ja~afi,e~e'a built-in reverence [pr t~gidit:y t'hat~revai1s in the face of kihcis,.of evidence thatiil flexible response would: be more beoeficial to them: This rigidity is still used for the sake of form, for harmony, arid as a weapon, to thwart the goals of co,mpetitors, partioti{arby fOIeign ones.

an

A tendency to do nqthingtatherrhancaqseJllny,kind Withholding facts pertaining to

offrictieh

7. 8. :9. in II. 12. B.

a: sitUation

athand

Rare1y saying what they really think ,Rarely volunteeting, a direct opinion behavior

Might Is Right
Another value that became a part 'Of the national consciousness, of the japanese following its ope$g to the West in 1868 w;as that «might is, right,' and that the d@minatioh of the. \Veak by the strong is a natur,al organic process. This philosophy haH existed in Japan sin,ce ancient' times, but it was given new life and, scope by their observation of ilie Western colonial powers of the day,and the in):p@rtati~rtof-Darwin's survival of the fittest theory. Generally speaking, the Japanese now feel superior to other people because of heir extraordinary economic success. There is, a tendency for th [apanese to look upon other people as not deserving of success be... C; Ull rh 'y ar Iss is tplln d and I s educated than the Japanese, and

Involdqg their Ja.pane:sehess as justification fot their attitudes and
'

Petsistenr sroaD-mindedness

Almost no sense of reciprocirs in~general context
Little regard fbr the privOlay

of others

14. An undeveloped sense of the tights of others 1,5. An inability to identify themselves with other naticnaltd s and
raees

16. 17.

A growing impulsiveness, impatience, and rud ness !lp ial.ly In Th~ ,

vi 'IV I it \I I zy, mater lillt , r In jffi r n t help themselves. By n I u, rhe JI1j)11ll ,t' tt'nd 101 1'\1 It I" rl~ht and prr)p r for them to exerc H • dom rnon LJ 1'1' ~IJ h , 'i1pl nllulch uul h ,11 vim rhnr h vc h181l1' II Illy h J t II 11 \ II.
..f I

132

Behind the Japaqe:se Bow

Because much of JaQan~s dynamism emanates nom the. energy Gf COOl' .petj:tive lc!)'ycaity Vfitrun l'lundreas €If thous}itrds cpre· cells, whettf it works s.otil~thing like a tnide.ar chain reaction thae feeds on its own suecess,1 delibeEately lilqwing fhe juggemaui 9'[ Jag)3.ri',~ economlcewanSi1t'lfl pbl'Qad in a s,hprt pciad: of'tifite is Vlrt:ually impossible. Slowing it down over a long period of time can take place orily in terms p£ fundamental ,changesm !;h"e eultun~. 11)i,? means, of CQllJf~e,chat; ratJ;rid ehangecs·fn .Jwan are Rot likely to ecour without effeli:tive pressure from the outside. Als previously meationed; the Japanese' tend .t{) have ,'a deep-seated dislike,. 'even cpntempt, for ~ye,a..Imes.s.CouNet.seLvthey are i:ml"tessed by strength! ,GQurage,stt,bng will, and unswetvtng ded'ioation to personal -and national goals. One of the fa<itors new celormg their imagf; @i the Un~ted ~tates ts what they per~eive as a f.ading:bf boklnes$ and resolve 'snd a ~owing ·"smeLl of. weakness" ill the Ame'dcan people. This new' ;Itdtuae .in J apan is beinge~Rfe$sed in varietytl ways,. As 'one ex;;nnple, a, Japa'tf¢se educatOr @f my 'acquaintance is'·among one, of several influenria] peeple wlm adveeate that Ja~anAa,eguire alarge area ~f the U:p.itecl. S~ate$ on aI~metY-nirte'rea:r leas~, an,d m@v~ sev~bal hun. dtdi thousand Japanese into the enclave as permanent residents. The Japanese "cclonists" w-ould. then prQviqe the long,' range pl~ing,man'agement skills, and eiIer:gyseenas essential to reinvigorate the ~meric:an economy.

or

6

Can Japan Survive Without
Kata?
Japa:o Versus the, World
SiWI-iffc:ant adva:nces, have been ma.de bY.IDgst Jap.anese ,iJ;l- brQatile]liT\,g' theil;: traditional attitude~, Qut one still constantly hearsj esp~ciaUV
among business_Re,ople and PQliticians, that all of the trade friction and conflicts between Japan tmtl the rest bf the wClI;ld will. disaJilpear as-soon as foreigners succeed in understanding the }apan,ese viewpoint. Of course, the very clear me~sag~,i$ thll~ these pr(lblems.§t~m tFom,th ig,.. noran~e and intransigence 6£ the foreign side, not fr@.U'l attitiJ,t:!:esa1i\1 actions, of the Japan~se. Despite the fact that the J:apanese are at least :p~ttaily correc):_ in their view of their international political and trade relations, cultural handicaps make it difficult aM~OIlletimef imppssible for them, to achieve the understanding and cOOIJeratiOD fromloretgn Gounnjes that they 50 ardently desire. Some ofthe handic-aps, holding the 1aptme:s.ebade ure ,exacetbatedby their ka a-lzed conditioning in the rightness and righteousness @f the Japanese Way, in groupism, in consensus decision making) and so .on, Thl puts rh J p n 8 in a class! bind. their kata culture is the main ~ IJr f b rh rhclr mos nvlabl trengths and their most debilitating

tl1e

Can japan SlIrviv:eWithout Kata! How the Japanese handle !!his ifn;rneiliate dilemma will decide thelt
of Kfan-Ji. tGtlay are iu·e.::xotably: ¢haqgjng
spicU011S

135

}apa:ll ip_ both suBtk arid CQ.n~

liittJre. for geRerations ro <;,o:me.

.

Attn j1,ls:tas tltelap.i'):rl~se of the MiHji periOl'il could nP~"freeze their

ways.

,

learning

how

w~"hdie:JaJlanese

@ortant. !:actors' in the Slirvival(jf

to read ana draw Kan-ji, the ehinesecharacters with vrrite ~lr Lal1gM~ge,s no dou:hpllne ef the Q1Qst iO'1i

Japants

traditional

culture" ou.t lhe

overall ih'fluenc:e of_:{lanJi ·~erodi.qg rapidly. The nJlmbe~ .ofelm:raytel's the japanese are required to leaw i.nc~chomlwas reduc.~froxn are.llnd five thousand to some twn theusand in the 1(/505. TheappeaJ'anc;e:of Japanese hmguage: ~wtiters', word prtl~ss:or;s, and ooIIipwtetsin "tl'l€ 1970$- and 1980s~~ofitribu:te·d. tb a fur_rher- er·6sion of the role of kalti- ka_ta, on "way of writing," in the_ ctrltural' cpnditioni;p_g of the j.apanes:e. A:s -.m9!e ,and.mote p,~opl~~!lWit,hfl'Q1tl writing. Kan,J f 110 kevboatdin,g Kan-ji, the weaker the- ka:ta of writing will be€Qme; Even the be\luP:!ul Ilrt ~hodO (ca1ligraphy) seems, deslljnedtoObecome a: victim of :teChnology. A aalligrap!i,y maChlne called fude gaf:d (fuu-rlav g:m~k0e),0(' l'brush writer;.') which makes it possible for anyone to mechanidilU~ grint. ~dd[~ es an-d SnQ,Ft me"$sa:ges in >5t;Vlued p:tllsh s!:f-P'KeS, was mtroouC€d in '1990.

stYlized etfquette sys1fm within "he wpeof eenstnainfs that &xiste(l daringtheir e;rr1t.er feudal era, pfe:lIent-'day Japullese; C<t~pet Qfeve,nt th~ fin:ther i:l.im:inishil1g Gf thlilll qaditional way of writin'g. Other ·It'at:a as well are slowly but ine'X.€lraMytosihg dS:¢ir p_p,wer~ Niote iillpQrtantly, t'h€: very yoiLttg ate no longer heing thoroughly conaitiooMin the::.-n:aditiQnal.q,il. tutal molds ,in: their h~e·s. The result is a fundamental we.a:leenifig ()f the-famed "japanese Way." Japan is npw faced with the QaSsm!l: of 1,,6' last fully, kata ..~ed genetarion. Eacli ~e"ar 6Crhe.5 perccut"Q1; sO Qf.the remaining "real' Japanese, th:o~e who were re;s-p,onsible fur .tllie cCftInt:fY',s e)Cna:ordinaJ1l economic suc-ce:SS1t-ettte. because groki !age or die off: OVer half of them will be gone .by the year: 'lOGO-anti all pt them will· d~.apl'ear from the scene in the {bn~Mq,g two decades.

pe

Many highscheoI gquilllate5 now nave to take inteusive refresher cOUrses in reading. ap:d Ylrlrlng bJl;fol'e th.ey ;a11; OOPfi1' top~s.ex'aminat1tins fa :set into universities. Wft'hin ,a-few years arreT tea-ving school a. growing nu.mber o{ Japanese have f0rgotten 'hew to write many of the less com-

mon Gliioese<iharac'tl!rs, and some have.fotgotte'u'hb:W

to readtheta

as

fQund threat japah hal; ever faG.el!l. F~!jlr cif what could happen 'to a 'de-JaRan:ize9: jawm is the- main £circ.e in diiving the.. old .generaticn of Japanese to G.Jl'eale ,{).ne"l1'lst Wilde before .t11ey oie- the '(inrernanOJlfUi~ti9f:l" oflapanese culture B'Ild. etoRomy. Utifo:rtvoote1y, beillg "intematiorral" 1;6 most Japan~setne_an~ little more than wearing Westem __tyle dQthfng, eating W'6stem-stryle fu'rid', s traveling oa:bto~d) ~pealdng a little Bl1glisl1 Of S8m-e_ :ot;her fo:r:eigp language, e:njeyit:(g We_stem p)u.sk, arrdhavinji lsb~mter"€s.'f! in inter.rl\'¥ti.~Fal ·affairs. It d@e5 n0't mean. c:ultu:ral'Or r1\Lcial J€lteraQ1Je,. economic ;re-Cjproq.it-y, 'Or an open society.

Qf present-,da,y Japan, <md!hei"t replacem€mt by people who an! regarded a's ,a:: '''new I:lre~j '1 as .v1'r:t ua] aliens, is vi~wed by maNY a:sthe most pro-

TKis .,v,ery rapia a'fitf ve_w;cQtlliPLc1!ou.s msappearance of the founders

' There appears to be no doubt that future users of computers will have a ChOi.c:;e Of actLv.atjtlg them by voice and getting a verbal response, thus eIllninatin.~. bOth the. need fbI keyboarding and the ability to read Kan- }i. This· will further erode the power and influence of the kata culture. In. the same way that the introduction of streetcars and tr ins in rhe late t800s had a profound Influence on rhc Japanes chet e of w'urlng apparel ns well £IS their public bcluwillr,dmn~llH III till' pru tii.'1e' wiltl U~l'

well. More and rnore, the tendency for publi~hets is to use the simplified phplle.tic 'wrtt;it),g systems, hir~-ga.ffil and kata:-'katJa, instead of the multi-

stroke Kandt

Inroads of Westernization
The bigg ~t imnlodllit
cours

Ith
lUll I

rtm hurd

nlllUmhu{ !lnUL'nl' uf dl~t ne vlrtlhlUv 1"-11111111
'11

fhr nr ttl JllpOn'!! overall kata culture is, of Wr~t rn tdeol! and CUSfClUlS. With d bV I ·l~hl').ulogY.f und lbt'tr l1u11nonl
V
rr " III

'I'M

~I

tu

t\\,oWI

J

hnli~,

tlu

UPUOC'IIl'

1ft"

11'Inl)

Can Japan SurVi:v.e Withm,lt Ka~'<Il 137

di.r_!iledy.exw_s~d to the wol:ld f@I:'the first time-in tlIekhfstory. But be, cause they -dQ not have an effective kata for handling this" to-tally t1eW'
experience;

_th€y are_ ina CQh§tant S11aJ;€-£ agiratt{:iil. 0

I

o£failnre. Fear of uv-predictability: in Japan w~ .and still is, en:btmol1s1y stJ:e,ngtherteclby the ~ower and itifluence bf the "kIata.ThesmQQth w@Jk .. ing of Japanese society 4; based one:ve:l1'0ne folloWip.g the aeoepteo katai as oPP(Qs,ed 1'0 abstract pljnciple;s. \Ybicb' are always open to vadol)S interpi~tatiohs. The subversion or flouting of proper for~. ~ ihel'efOl'e Japanese. . ' One of the major challenges. now {acing the Japatrese 'trs the old kata~@ased culture weakens is 'to.Gev.elopa·t61erar-ce fun unpredictability done, and it Will PIohaply be two or three getleratibns before it becomes a signillcaIn part of th& Japanese character ~assuming iliey make th~ ef. fort in the first plaee, As Jqpan's kara cukureweakens, the incidence of intimidation, assauJ:r, battery, and other forms of Vi:oleIlc~ is. beccmiug more, and more commonplace. Gen.uine wa (harmeny) is already hard to find tn the urban areas of the country. The Japanese are acutely aware that their kata-ized culture is brea,king up. They understand the universal principle that PJ;Ogr~s~comes aruy With .changa, but, unlike earlier historical OCCasions when great changes occurred, they are no longer able to controlevents from. and the ability to deal with it. Thi~, of course, ismucb. easier much mote t:h:reatenin~ to the Japanese tha,n failing in an:y enter, l'Irise, Westerneu ana Western ways represent unpredictability to the

Japanese -soqiety na:s traCiitionaJiy spread responsiBility wlt;hW gFOUP.s and cushioned the .eft'ec~ Q( failure, with die result that rh:e:)<:tparte;<;e' 31;e mOte wary of an:predictahfurv and aetepting responsibiliJ:Y; than they are

Westernm-tluente washing over Japan is' especially disruptive because it ,etnphasi2es indiViduality and pe.fsQ~al r,e,spoosibIIl.ty. Westeme~s Je~d to accept individual respon'Sibtliry aud are ~l1ing te take chances,

said than

thee top.

FOl;B. pteviewof what one side of Japan could be like without kata, aU one has to do is tum on the television set and watch any of th regular comedy sh,,\Vs. Veteran journalist Ronald E. Yates has described this. facet of Javanese television as "the Kabuki-eho f Japan." K ukt-ch L a district in West Tokyo that is notorious as the !II aze caplt 1 of eh country. Yates was r ferring t th fI c rh t v 'r~J () rh must p ipnln of thes show~ ar In turn vul",nr, irr vcr n, nrnnu phk, III uWhl1

ea1l0us, e.ve:n c'mel. The shows' are. imme:q.sely pogul""r, apparently be, cause the comedians- break e~ery kata-tzed tahoo in' 15hesyst;em. ~hereb¥. pl1ov:iding'a vicarious release_for t;peir audiences, . , Because thev are nQ i:enger able;.to· prevent change;; in their social, ~¥s~. ternand ate na longer in full coritrol of tReir eCeu{\)mie '5yst~m, theJap::i).lese; may very w~ll be unable to ~uIVive at the present level-or' at a 'high€'r leJel- with6uttheEene{it of a kata~'ized population. What the ,(llininisbing of just the the Kan-]! sysrem alone n'\_@anS to Japan's future Is, of COill;si:), open to conjectute. but there is no doupt that it will bea major faa r in the clelIaditiooalizing; Qf the culture and subsequently have ·u negative €ft'e~t on the eharacter and behavior as well as the abilities 06 the J apaAese. Kabuki. j,s a good example of the ultimate fa ka~a'izing human behavi@r, ~v~ing 1;lOt o.n:lyi~s stteligt;h~ in psoviding precise guideIi'ne~ of the set form for eaeh new performer to masteL, but aha revealing the weakness and; -inhumanity, €If the system in that it tejectsany ih(lividuality or new int-elligenee and ihUfi'stifles 'c;:himge'ans growth ot the' person and the art. grol the Jal"anes.e tend to look upon kabuki as representative of the best of trat:litional Japan, and they Q.dRtirtue to :herod foreign vi§ito_Js to the Kabuki~Z% fOt a taste of th'e "real Japan" wit1tout reali:tirlg th:a.t thev: migbll.5eshdWirrg the \V0'rSt stde at JaI>al1.es~ir culture as well, To the degree that-an automated kind Qf ;beh~viot served japan'& needs, kata~iz,a:tio-q was a remqrRahle way to mobilize ener~ .an.d.iSkillin aChIeving specifiC'; setge;il$. But in tttQse areas where flexi,bility, spontan,ejty, an.d ad must.be one, the nega:ihie effects oi;s\fime .k'.ata, wAt"n c'.=lr~ tietltCinlrn ultimate, ar"e~uaUy; obvieus- aad fr~ghtenin~. Ov.eLali, the kata system Will J'fQbably centinueto he the. IIl0'St 4npottant 'cultu,rrai infl_ue[)_~ein. shaping the natioaal ch<L'tacter of the Japanese throughout the n1;st quarter ef 'the twenty,fus1! century, carried fo~ard not onry by''tbeir spoken and written langua~ 'h1.1.ta4o by theiJ: daily etiquette, rheJr aesthetic- and ~a:rfial_ arts, and the prevaillng educatienal and business systems. Japan's educational system and its e-mptoyment and man-aJg-elIletrt pracdces remain key (actors in helping ro sustain the traditional aspects' fh ulrur -In direct ppo itl n to other efforts to iatematronalise

ufltry, Srlil, cudDy! on of he most common sights in elementary ,I In J[ I I I III I II 1 y{lll1 I chikl··n, down on eh t1 or, painttng lUI{ Kl-lfl J It t {r (11111 I ' h I"U (1 pup • M I1Ymrlnng r In [erg r

the

nt

C

13S

Behind th~ [ap

ese Bow'

Can Japan Survive WI h ut K II I JapaI'le~ leaders egan to realize that it is primarily language - n kabuki, susni" tameD 'nQodle&-, cars:, or televiskm sets - that transmits culture; and they are now supporting tbis n~w, extraordinary phenomerron.

Japanese companies alsoare ddiberately tlo/ing t9 keep the leara culture alive "b¢cause, they rec@gtriZe that' despite its drawbacks it has been R key factor in the economic success of the country. But both the education,p traditional' management systems {;If Japah are under increasing pressure to Ifhange. There is no doubt that the more "international" t;he Japanese become, the mQfe the'influencJ'! of the kata SWltero will weaken. the mo~th~:r give up !!he '(!ultuEal~rij¢~ uees th:at made them a spedal and formldable nation! the.more of these speSial advantages they wi.l1lq,se. ' The price the Jap,ane'$€ muat pay to internationalize their's@ciety-in other words, become less Japanese and more Western-is high, and there are many who feel it wQuld not be w0tth it, Ideally, of course, Iihe .best soluti0n would he rot the Japan-ese tEl maintain the kala that are positive and result in.desirahle attitudes -anrl habits, a119 drop those that have pravt\n to be' hann£ul. In any event it is too early 'to begin counting Japan out. Veteran Japan Tim&'> col4nuiist Jean Fea,rce notes (just qS American m:;Jdner Henry Holmes did in the mid-1SOOs) that thejapanese are still oapabte ef surprising the- world. In a recent "Oetting Things Done" column, Pearce presented a,list of dmnge.& that occurred in Japan in the previous five ye,arS that were ltanlly imaginable a .decade earlier. These changes ineluded Japanese attitudes nolicie,s _E~garding conservation, fecycJ~g paper. banning the ivory nade, and preserving the environment ill general Just ali it:n,porcam. such c~ges·in jap.a:n are not the restilt of a tQtally newawareness, As Pearce also@n.serves, more often than not thef are' a return to traditional values that were a fundamental mrt of J ~panfise culture for mori! tliian a thousand years, These old, familiar, resurrected traditions, like, their kasa heritage trom the past, now constitute cultural advanteges that are €ontributing t:oJapan's new role as,:awqr1d leader. It :,vas npt ll-ntil th~ 19BQs,that japanese business ana government leaders oogan reosystematically sponsor-the export of japanese culture on a large, coordinated scale. Given Japan'~ economic role in the world today this. ncweffoft is likely to. be .successful, based not so much on Japan's. skill in exporting but all the ;growing motivation of foreign GQu,ntries to be reeeptive ro -and ·often take the lead in importing Japanese ideas and processes in order to compete with Japan. The study of the Japanese language r und th w rid n w r.iv 1 th study f English, nd it idol Ilg m r [ pr J punese u It u than

ana

Will the Japanese Remain Ne.21
Japanese achieve virtually ultimate

One. of rh:e ka,ta.-bQJ.lIlp cultural fOrGes thElt haS tt'adit;iQaallY driven the is the need to excel. in ~velCYthing ~ te do things better and to
more than other people. This c€lmpulsiv:e drive is evident in everything they do. Generally spealdn:g,the superlative is their >gQal. whether it is the smallest, ~e hifge~t, the highest, t1ie mbstuuraple, the ffaest in quality, or whatever. This built-tn-need Clften manifests itself in what could Be .deseribed as a national psyc-bom. Here is a r~peJlt typical example: A marathon runnetwho failed to live up to national expectations Jn an international meet was critid~ed vehemently and re€:f!'ived a nil1uoerof neath thr:eat§. The origin of this psychosis is no dbunt the pe1fecti.~ndemwd~d by every kata in Ja(>ah's cultural system. Kata ,goals are unhbooded a~d easry over into all areas of life. Thus kata;.ized Jaganes~ eanaot he sans ... lie.!::!. ith, being ~nYIDing but first Of best This coIDEulsiongoes be~('lnd W common nationalistic fettliflgS', t>laying a particularly, ke): rote in inteI;na~ tienal bu~i,ness beeause that 'is linked W'i~h :¢;connm,ic well-belng. It also leads some [apanese t() envision ]:;wan as the world's paramount economic power.

and

nyrhlnr:t

c1bl~.

In

fll. r, It

au

W08

1)(11 IUlIIt

till' Inllt·tpllrt

II

rh

19HOn rh

I

MQ'Stthinking japanese still routinely aeny th:atJapan has aspirations of being No. 1 iN the WQrld. COJn11lllnta1:ors in many nelds: regularly. note that they (meaning aU Japanese) are lil-erfectly hapFY to he No. 2. Be~ sides. they aacl,there is no-concervable way Japan could be firlit--By the 19805, however, other Japanese began specul{lthlg that hot only could [apan become the world's top economic power, thete wasliniact, a good chance that it would - as much by-default as by its own effort'S. Bu gr wins indic tt ns that Japan might indeed become No. 1 in the W( ld' • n m] rd I or fril'lbt nlng o m J pan s . Th y h Ii rve !1u'b II w( uli.! turn til nrlJ in. t them nd dt·y wuuld nI ce '!:IIl.ill h IAUlllt"ll. HVIHl til ~ mp I tlUM" ounr(' xl"lnM 1I\1~t~ rr Ul HIt·ly

140

Behind the Japanese Bow ]ap.aflese.

Can Japan Survwe Without K

1

,aefenses-without the use of viQlem:e-l~- not easy, nqwever. Irt:ake'S intimate --familiariW with the ~Y$tem, obstinate persist npe, ana ~ lot bf patience. . The first or-e:a~thr:puga_~t most, -tbteigQer.s n ed to make in: dealing: effectively with the japati€se ts to ,get beyona tHeir formal matmers=-t:heit vi:s.lble .kata, Their etiquette; is seductivdy attTR:ctive to ntany W>esterners, .often imm:e:ssin~. ,th~ to the PQ!n_tiliat tH~y oewtne ehtrap.oed and lese some "t-their ctitieaf faculties, espeelally their ability'to·discern between,_ form <md s:ulD~tap:c4'Th~alpne is eno\:,\gh to ~a~cQunt {«prmany: the pfQhllems that foreJgneFs have in. rektlierioship&. Wi~~ Jap~nese. AffiericaFlS- in particular are often suscepdbltt to be,ingovetly influenced by 'SW1iz~G,eJegant' beh:~vi0.r, n~ deuht s -bconsciously telati;Qg sueh "_good manners"1-,ro reffut'}m~t and a high le:v:el f etllic:5 and

aware th'8:t ireis itoP'early-ifot 'them tbopeniy seek (he. primary leadership role in the world. Yet there are S'OMtl )\:ho are Oliepadng fa:r thl;lt day. 1'h€worlcl at Jarge; G:fItl take some solace ih tEte fact thatJapan1£ still fotIDidable kata-izea system is not impregnable. The Japanese are not unbeatable. They h~€ their Achilles' ne~l$.The SQUd phalanx they p:reSl!.fit to .0utsMe.l's is paft UlusIQn. Penetrating the bulwark of their

In thi:S,.Gl:se. it is itnP,Ortan~ fot

YQU

ti'>

know what

hi

j.lnllll

II

you have really inourred and be prepared to fulfill them. wlu n th

lI

c~mes. Be~a:lJ&'~ the Japanese ate, not exflenerlG'c,ij. ill working wlrh Oft { people on an equal basis. as true partners .• and at his point 1\1' psy~holQgLcau.Yt:Q)'~b1~ tq lq,Gcel1t such r~e1atiousWp-s, most joint v lit 1111 I!! 'BetWeen Japanese ah(d fore~fP1 eompanies either fail campier ly It'l f~w years_ Of become disjointecl. with the. Japanese- side actually runnln
,thiriks. . thete ~

or

tne

Some of my most @xpedencttd-and candid-Japanese coil 'II . I'~ N :y<;:! to be ane f~rei_gp:~apane$e' jpj_nt venture ilia h J w( rl ,J n tlre truest sense -and spirit of the relati@nship. One long- tim' C' I I J L busin.€_ssmanin Japan observed that "y(',lU can work for the JIlPlHl '. 11 they Gi;trl-work for you, but you cannot worK wleh them." These factors generally apply to all relationships with typi 'HI JII ! 11 "I b.ut- there ar_€' nvmeroos eX€ep'9(;'lUs, 011 an individual. as w~H 1111 u -l 'nJ pany basis. $till, warn- both Japanese aI1-dforeign C 1'\ ulrm I ,fh h II
fJPJi1toach in ,any proposed relationship is to take nothlnlJ
lUI
J

III

lI

morality.

the Iot)g' way. and oft-en wrong way. Thev have a clear adtfult generally allows the-mm control the situation and achie,v,e theirgqals -or ad~ast PLevent-dutiSide,rs,Jttiitn, adfievirt~ theirs: The Japanese typically 'do nat react to calls for fairness at equality in the Western sense, ~cl. this_ oft~l1 aRRears to be the only strategy (pr~ eighets jl(ave in fnexl.'clea1irrgS'with-Jaw-an. There'is no equality or West~ ern~styIefillmess in their hlet:archic'aI. exclusive system. Everyone is mherentl¥ un~£luaI by design. Generally speaking, it is natural for [epa);les-e:to ea~e adya~a-ge ofpe6f-l'Ie' and situa:fioils when opportuniti-es presennhemseh,es because that is eJrnctIy what they are candid ned t do, invariably

with their rules. if you eho,?se to do tliipgS the Japanese way, ~ou havf:l to be atleast as goed as, they; are jU1it to ach'ieve a tie. 1:-0 win yOY have to· be better than mey are, -and'that is !Virtually oogossiJ)le. De(;{lmg-y,ri.th lapane~e (')tl,' their p1aygt~on:¢1 and foU0Wing their rules is

Another ,Of the keys tQ. walls s1ll'T@unclit\lgid'ieJap:rnese

.' blreadring the social, political, an€lecQtlomrc
is tl0t to play the game on

heirgrounds

vantage

me

p,tesuwe that yqu~""ill be taken-advantage 0fii there is uny ~llljIIIUIlIU. I -and follo tHe best ad~G.e available. Sqroetimes the !nest effective strategy when d aling with J pUft_ who Want $Qmething tr;Ol'l'l you ts to m~ke no effort whatso 'WI to pt fa the Japanese way, This ten:ds to throw them ff bel 11 I 11111 \ 111 their line, and weaken their defenses. This approa h ill m I II 1 III work when your meetings take place away from their offi . 'H, IItld th )tuther veu are from their home turf usually the better offYOll or , Generally the ideal approach in dealing with the [apm . 'I 'I!luh nation of Japanese etiquette and Wes tern tech niqu s, J up ne pi t1h I til
is fine in helping eo set the stage for meetings nd n llt I't [Innll. changing name cards, bowing. polite talk. d V lo in 'r 1\ ,I l '!I, II these. contribute to harmony and feelings of g odwlll, nnd II f II I pleasant experiences.

It is .therefore necessary for outsiders to deal with Japan e fr m a position of strength if they want to ensure a fair relation hip. If yuu 14(') in as supplicant, nd knowl dJ{ y ur in6 rior p sltlon, y 1\1 Inny N t P rl' r II f whu you w 111 )1I ~ n lly nly t i 'IV' I h Pllrl'l ' 1 lte

li:f~' Bebittd the Japanese BOw

Index
AeUhe.iks •.1',.30"....33. 5'1; l)1-n •.\n l ,S~lI{sQSi!.Qf, Slti[mi, WqiH; TQk.6~ Btzyhiil,ii, .21....s~a1so, Sam urai Builer" iB2en.,'tG 9, 66 Q:b:t;ired1dSte..~eJl, 61 Galligr:dP~Y,7,19- 20 ~a&l1egill"n~~e, 91-92 Cauca.&tans" 65Gen,!Jn!GS;. 5Q' Ceremonies. 25~26. 31 Gh:aM:l':u,-25-16

Aikt:do.46
Ainu, 2.1
AtsafSu,

Am4ei 5 ~ 7,.''$d., Se~ aj59Blncierity, :r:rust tnIb:iguitY.3.,5-.n $~e ifMo FU:~i!Y logic
~X\qan
.~ecic.ll:n ·c,uh:ure.62,

no sJiikara,., :77:_ 7:8

n

atbk~.M, 57 -:58 '14"
13:5,.91, It6c"'19

Ar;ietiean oo1.b(rlisy, $'9, 12 American mUsic,61

Ghina (Qhm~se), vii, 10, 14-1.9, l~! 1M, China'~Imperial Court, 17, 22
Chihe',se:-Korean, 65 Chi!;!l Masaru, n Chopsticks, 75 Chiistianity, viii, 12 Ohrysanm?mum and !he Bill" Tlu:. Sl'~
Whiting, Robert

A~Wpu ,at 'Q-nfu6lilS '17
ArithTqM16gis~, 15 Appl!;lgy,3S-J\! AppretlI.'iQf:s, :iO~1)
Arrogance,

Am~ui~ans,,&, j7,5~;

.

4{i,74

Arts~2D Ash:ihga, Shogun Yoihiinasaj' 25-26
l\w4;le,

79

'Ell

SambS!J.\?,' 24{,. 113
B,illI\iJeO cutt:aih;

Barcbariam:, 13

64
M-3',

Clan lords, 56 Clark, Prof. Gregory, l27 Class (socral), 97-98 Clothing. 43. See also W,mrilijol ul1t1ll.rcl Cemmoners, 60

Bar:rager, Da>;.>Is,:ix,

COmpetition. 62, 132
Conflicts, '64

Baseball (besulJoru),. 57 - 59 Big brother, J9

Bla.ck hole, 9Z Bowing, 32-33,35,78 Brazil, 71
BriSIlOds,46

ConJormtcy, 88-9 J, lUi Confucianism, "iii, 14. 18, JQ,78 Consensus,. 37, 83-84, 10~ 101\,
107-108, 131
CopyiIll(,

Bu, 10t-102, 12B. Se~ aIm Kn

Buddhll,2~
t

59, 111. 12 C'-o.wodter~,H~ Cnlfl~I1)lm, 20-21

Auddhl~m (R\I\lllht~t)., null
31,46 llutl,A-7

t' ,

10, 14, U, 11',

Irllln~, I' I 12 Q
~~~ ,jllil MAlhi!! .lIiI'HI

11,1 ~hIKlltiHVO uk, 88
LJt!III~t, I,m r ~fwlll'~ 1111""1' I II V ~>~lk~(I!!Il, 0 1

flWU"HI,

11