Japanese Culture

In 1960, Mr. Tanaka, who was on the verge of bankruptcy, sold his entire business and property in Japan to A. Back then, at age 30, A was willing to take over, restore and expand Mr. Tanakas family business and continue his ie. Create a realistic story about how A could (or could not) accomplish these goals. Your story thus traces As life course to the present (as of 2010).
In this scenario, Mr. Tanaka ran a restaurant in the 1960s.  This was a business his family started following the end of the Second World War and he eventually took over following the passing of his parents.  It was through his restaurant that he was able to support his family and send his children to school.  Unfortunately, by this time, his business fell into hard times to the point he had to declare bankruptcy.  In order to survive, he was compelled to sell his business and property to A whom we shall call Shigeo.  Shigeo was 30 years old at the time Mr. Tanaka declared bankruptcy.  The third child among a brood of four, he came from a background similar to that of Mr. Tanaka where they also managed to pick themselves up after the war and start a business by running a small yet successful ryokan (inn) which reaped a considerable profit.  In his desire to diversify his business and strike out on his own since his older brother was groomed to take over the family business, Shigeo offered to acquire Mr. Tanakas business thereby saving him financially (Hamabata199033-35  Smith and Beardsley200435-37).  At the same time, he also offered to continue Mr. Tanakas business, by expanding it and continue his ie rather than supplant it with his own.
Bound by this obligation, Shigeo becomes a mukoyoushi (foster-son).  He assumes Mr. Tanakas name and adapts their traditions as he took over the Tanakas business.  Mr. Tanaka then chooses a suitable mate for Shigeo through an arranged marriage by way of further perpetuating the Tanaka name in the business.  Shigeos wife is named Ikuko and they were married in 1960. From their union, they were blessed with three children, two boys named Ichiro who is the eldest (born in 1970) and Taro (born in 1973) and one girl Ayako (born in 1975) who is the youngest. Between schools, the children also help out in running the business running errands at an early age and as they were growing up, more and more responsibilities were given to them by way of preparing them for running the business. 

As the eldest, Ichiro is groomed to pick up where his father had left off which he did by the time Shigeo retired.  The business flourished even more as Ichiro was able to put up several franchises of the restaurant all over Japan.  Ichiro completely took over the business and is repeating the same principle to his own children as he and his wife are grooming them to take continue the business when they have come of age.
Taro took a different path when he worked in a prominent company and rose through the ranks until he was promoted to the executive ranks.  Commensurate of his new status, he was eventually transferred to his companys branch in the United States where he currently lives with his own family over at California.  As for Ayako, she migrated to Canada with her husband and put up their franchise in Vancouver and are grooming their children to run the business should they choose to.  Since they are living in a foreign land, they are not expected to adhere to tradition, especially her eldest son, Hiro whose ambition is to become an architect or an engineer.  As for Shigeo, since he is the son of Mr. Tanaka, gave a portion of the profits back to his surviving kin since Mr. Tanaka passed away 10 years ago.  His children have grown and moved on and with the proceeds, they are able to live comfortably even more notwithstanding their own children are taking care of them as well.  By the time he retired, Shigeo lived up to his obligation to Mr. Tanaka in keeping his business and his legacy alive and his own children and their children are making sure they continue it for this is also their patrimony as well.
If there is something one can learn from this story, the ie is a rather broad concept.  Although it connotes household, this concept can also be applied to a corporate of business setting.  If there is something a household and a business have in common, it is the existence of a hierarchy and what makes it unique is the form of succession.  In a family-run business, it is expected that the mantle shall be passed on to the next generation and being a partrilineal society, the eldest son would be the likely successor.  In this case, Mr. Tanaka had nothing to impart to his son due to their bankruptcy and it had to go to someone who was capable of continuing it (Shigeo).  What this proved is that the succession issue is not rigid at all and it is open to anyone deemed worthy to continue the ie though the familial touch here was to adopt Shigeo to the
Tanaka family to make his claim and right legitimate.

In your opinion, why do you think we anthropologists should study images, which, in the case of this course, images of Japan and its people Make your argument, which should be informed by my lectures and your readings of the assigned articles and books throughout this quarter.

In my opinion, images are essential in understanding people.  Images make the subjects we study more tangible rather than relying on abstract words.  Through images, it helps us learn about the subjects clearly.  Going to the heart of the matter, the Japanese as far as the west (America) is concerned appear to be an exotic kind of people compared to the Europeans.  It is rather easy for Americans to relate with Europeans since they have an affinity in contrast to the Japanese who are totally different.

Americas impression or image of the Japanese became very apparent during the Second World War notwithstanding the fact that there were already several Japanese immigrants already living in the United States as early as the 19th century.  The war created a rather adverse image towards the Japanese and their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor reinforced it.  That the Japanese are treacherous, capable of duplicity and fights dirty.  Because of their inscrutable nature, they were easily under suspicion for no one could comprehend or figure out what was on their minds for the Japanese are very adept in hiding their feelings or intentions and tend to mix and mingle with their own kind rather than interact with foreigners (Benedict2005299).

Besides, the images created as a consequence of war, other images of the Japanese through American eyes would be their collective attitude which is the complete opposite of the individualist attitude among Americans.  It gives the impression that a Japanese person cannot take the initiative or act unless told to be someone more senior.  Like the Chinese, they find their practice of eating with chopsticks rather weird and even the penchant for loudly slurping their noodles which would be a breach of etiquette in American dining rooms.  They also see the Japanese as workaholics but at times, they get the impression that their bosses are slave drivers which drive their employees so hard to the point they drop dead in their work in a phenomenon called karoshi.   The same is true in their impression of their women and how men treat their women.  What further reinforces these images is their racial background.  Their Asian identity sets them apart from the mostly white westerners and are regarded as aliens.  There is even the case when some westerners came up with crazy explanations in understanding the Japanese.  This craziness borders on the ludicrous.  They believe the Japanese have small brains, they are myopic and are imitative.  Naturally, the Japanese would resent that and even try to disprove it.

What is strange about it is that the Japanese also feel that way too about Americans as they study us through images.  Although they may admire our economic might and the prosperity it brings, which they also try to emulate, there are things about us that gives a bad impression upon them.  One obvious characteristic is our individualistic attitude.  The Japanese pride themselves as superior and they attribute that to the collective behavior of people in society.  It is this collective attitude that also brings a sense of order and eliminates chaos and they have the impression that Americans are very chaotic and unstable.  They pride themselves on being hard-working or industrious and very obsessed with quality while they regard us and to a certain extent, Europeans with contempt because our seemingly complacent or laid-back manner which in their minds is deemed indolence and unproductive.  This is the impression they get when they travel to these countries and this is what motivates them to be better than the westerners.  While they try to emulate their achievements, they do not emulate our attitudes and this is what they are proud of.

Images do help us understand foreign culture.  Unfortunately, if it is not understood properly, we may end up stereotyping or prejudging which is not the right way of studying these images.  It takes an open mind and the willingness to put oneself in a different perspective to perfectly understand what we do not and in that way, these wrong impressions would be eliminated and it makes it easier to get along with someone different from us.


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