Thursday, April 20, 2006

Playing Catch-up Part 1

Wow. Talk about a hectic couple of weeks.

Here we go!

4/6/2006: The negative side of Shinto

Thursday afternoon, the blizzard cleared up and the snow melted off. Praise be to the heavens!

Hiroshi (No. 1), The New Guy (#1), THE PRINCIPAL and I went to a certain shrine in town that afternoon to talk to the head priest regarding this year's kyudo (Japanese archery) club. I have mentioned before in these pages that I'm not the biggest fan of shrines in Hokkaido due to the strong influence of the Meiji-to-WWII era State Shinto and all of the right-wing leanings that come with it. You can spot these shrines just by the shape of their shrine gates.

And that shrine had one of THOSE shrine gates. And hoo-boy did that priest have those lovely right-wing leanings.

"The Meiji Era education system is what made Japan great."
"The post-WWII education has taken the soul out of Japan."
"Any country that has a Christian religion cannot help but fight wars."
"Any country with a Buddhist religion will never prosper, because people give up all desires, even the good ones."
"Japan never fought a religious war."
"Koizumi's plan to change the Imperial Succession law would have destroyed the last great imperial line in the world. Praise be to the heavens that the Crown Prince's younger brother's wife is now pregnant."
"The current Constitution is a joke. MacArthur took the Philippine Constitution and had it translated. The real Japanese Constitution is the Meiji Era one."

All the while he's avoiding eye contact with me and talking to the three Japanese people that I'm with. And all the while I'm just sitting there gritting my teeth and smiling and wondering how much more abuse I have to take.

Funny thing, though. He brought up Izumo Taisha in the conversation and then Hiroshi (No. 1) told him that he was from the Izumo area and I had lived there for a while, he seemed to warm up to me a bit.

You could also call it "acknowledging my existence".

After he finished lecturing us on this, that, and the other thing, and said our kyudo club could use the shrine's practice facilities, we left. I commented, only half-jokingly, that I was going to go back to my apartment, pack of my stuff, and go back home.

You wonder what the point of being here is when you run into someone like that.

Oh, and I love the claim of Japan never having fought a religious war. Let me clear my throat for a second...

...ahem, ahem...


Shinto, just like any other religion, has many wonderful facets to it. But it can be, and has been, abused by those in power, just like any other religion. For Japan, World War Two was a religious war, and people who try to deny it are fooling themselves.

Kamikaze pilots strapping themselves into planes with a katana strapped to the control stick, screaming "Banzai!" as their planes crash into American ships?

Human Torpedoes (kaiten) - soldiers strapping themselves into torpedo casings, loading up with explosives and getting sealed into those cases, then steering them into American ships, and their deaths?

The elderly, women, and schoolchildren all practicing self-defense with bamboo spears, wanting to take out at least one American soldier before they died? Going into it with the knowledge that they would die?

People breaking into tears when Emperor Hirohito announced on the radio that not only had Japan lost the war and surrendered, but also that he was not a God?

These were creations of State-controlled Shinto, which was used to focus the people into a nationalistic fervor that had them willing to sacrifice everything, even their lives if necessary, for the Emperor.

The majority of Hokkaido shrines are remnants of that Meiji-to-WWII era of that State Shinto. And I ran into a remnant of that way of thinking today.


Blogger Sizzlean said...

Five card stud, nothing wild. And the sky's the limit.

Nice to have you back-

Thursday, April 20, 2006 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger Havok said...

Good to be back

Thursday, April 20, 2006 10:49:00 PM  

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