France is not merely country of Fashion – Prejudge and inferiority

Published by Hiromi Nishiwaki on

Generally, when Japanese people think about France, we image it with fashion. --- For us, France is country of "Fashion, and also country of "Love" . And that is certainly not wrong.




However, the words of "Fashion" and "Love" capture only a part of France, and I believe they are not the most critical elements of French Culture. Today, I'd like to explain about this subject.

Japanese Satsuma pavillion at the French expo 1867 Anonymous

Japanese Satsuma pavillion at the French expo 1867 Anonymous

Let me begin with my personal story ------ I majored in French literature at the university, --- However, to be honest, I initially wanted to learn German literature. ---For me, Germany looked like a country with simplicity and fortitude, Therefore, I thought it is my kind of country.

Another reason why I like(d) Germany was that I liked classical music. From childhood I've been Mozart, Bach and Beethoven lover. This made me naturally interested in Germany. Also, I loved reading books of Heinrich Heine and Hermann Hesse, and in addition to this, that fact that Germany was also defeated in WW 2, and recovered from it, same as Japan, also made me interested in that country.



However, because of fate, I came to major in French literature. ---The reason why I majored in French literature was that I passed an exam of National university. -----Tuition was very much cheaper than that of private universities. (of course, there are many other reason other than tuition, however, I have to admit this is one of the biggest reason, and I thank it now.)



I came to learn French literature with a mischief of destiny, however, then, gradually I began to learn about the unique characteristics of French country and began to love it.

Le Japon Artistique, n°3, 1888 Siegfried Bing

Le Japon Artistique, n°3, 1888 Siegfried Bing


As far as I know, the most important element of French culture is " Pursuit of intellectual curiosity", or "Love of intellectual curiosity. ---and, To pursue intellectual curiosity is also To love a life at the same time. Because life is the place where intellectual curiosity is exercised, ---it is a place to explore intellectual curiosity.



Because they love their lives, they respect an idea of self-respect and self-reliance, because, self-respect and self-reliance is one of the the most important element to enjoy a life.

Thus, French people put importance on "Self" and "Freedom" and these qualities lead to be a soil to break out French Revolution.

The presence of Descartes and Pascal proves how much they respect intellectual curiosity and logic. ---Yes, French are fashionable, but its mother is their attitude to respect intellectual curiosity, logic and constructive arguments. They are not just merely fashionable. ---- Unfortunately, many (Japanese ) People are not able to understand this.

They are not just chasing "fashion surface", their fashion has developed as a result of respecting the inner logic and intelligence.



If you go to Chanel's boutique, without understanding this, unfortunately you will not be respected, even if you pay money.


Deux prêtres de la secte Shingon à Kyoto expliquant à Émile Guimet les qualités de leur dogme Oeuvre de Félix Régamey (1844-1907)

Deux prêtres de la secte Shingon à Kyoto expliquant à Émile Guimet les qualités de leur dogme Oeuvre de Félix Régamey (1844-1907)

Also, We must not forget that France is an country who won freedom with their blood, by French revolution.



As a result, they know how difficult to "win" the "right to be free". They know they have to fight to "Win the right". This is totally different from Japanese Idea, -----as for us, "right to be free" was Automatically and suddenly Given by the defeat of WW2, by Western Nations. ------



Silently and seamlessly, group-ism have being replaced by individualism and "Notion of freedom" have being installed, ------however, actually, we still live in Feudalism and dependency, for 60 years after WW2.



Actually, we paid for this big change, by the life of people who fought for WW2, yet, many Japanese are not able to understand it. Thus, We get "individualism" and "Notion of freedom" without learning how to handle.

On the contrary, French people Realize, they win individual happiness, therefore, they "protect" individuality, and "protect" their lives by themselves. At the same time, wide variety of individuality has been developed and independent people - who can think and act on their own have been created, and eventually, many Humanitarians have being born from this country.



To summarize, France is not just a country of Fashion, it is a country of intelligence - where logic, self-reliance are respected. And it is its result that rich fashion culture as well as praise for "love" and Arts have been have been flourished.

Japanese have to abandon the simple understanding that France = Fashion. We have to observe the essence of things.

As a conclusion, I would like to write about most wonderful characteristics for me about France.

It is their non judge-mental mind, trying to capture the "essence" of the things, and "Truth"

They evaluate "true value" of things, by looking at the "essence" of things.

In fact, France highly appreciates Japanese culture.

To prove this, I would like to cite Paul Claudel's word, he was a French ambassador to Japan During the Taisho Era. Needless to say, he was a well-known novelist.

Paul Claudel

aul Claudel (1868-1955) a French diplomat, poet and play-writer

日本は貧しい。 しかし、高貴だ。世界でどうしても生き残ってほしい民族をあげるとしたら、それは日本人だ。駐日フランス大使 (1921-27)」

Japan is poor. But it is noble. If you want to raise a nation that you want the world to survive, it is a Japanese. French ambassador to Japan (1921-27)

Many French People appreciates Matcha.


Japanese tea ceremony

Japanese tea ceremony

It might be Japan to give up Prejudice, and inferiority.

Thank you very much for reading.

Hiromi Nishiwaki

Office Flora "JAPANOPHILE " Promotion was founded as a Japanese culture Research firm in 2017. We provide exciting information on Japanese Art and Culture and offer intellectual excitements though the prism of Hiromi Nishiwaki. We provide deep insights about Japanese traditional culture and Art from a Western perspective while keeping the core concepts from the Japanese Spiritual and traditional values intact. Our mission is to contribute to world happiness and prosperity.

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