Japan’s roots -Jomon Period-Background of diversity in Japan
It is almost 2 years that I moved to Nagano from Tokyo.
While I enjoy a lot so many things here, I have to admit that I feel people from Nagano are basically very different from me and actually they are like foreigner, ( well I am sure I would be almost like Alien for them).
That's fine! Let me enjoy being alien! However, to take a profit of this, Today I'd like talk about a subject, "diversity exists also inside Japan, not only outside Japan"
Let me begin!
There are so many things I admire about Nagano; they are; nature, historical monuments, food, buildings, shrines and temples....and many more....and in addition to this, I'd like to add people's mind to respect "kindness" "politeness" and "Harmony".
Having worked as executive secretary for 5 years when I was young, I was known as very polite person when I was in Tokyo, and I was kind of proud of it. However, here in Nagano, I find people are even politer than me, and I am amazed. Let me tell you 2 examples to show you this.
First example was, when I first time came to Nagano and bought stamp and post card, and asked receptionist if they can send postcard for me , they said they can send, and they are happy to put stamp for me. If I ask same question in Tokyo, I am sure most receptionist would never tell she/he also put stamp for customer. At least, I've never had that kind of service. I think in Tokyo, this kind of service is "Excessive Service” in Tokyo. Anyway I amazed with their kindness at that time.
Another example is, the way Station staffs in Nagano station greet to passengers in the morning. You can see 10 to 12 Senior station staffs, aged around 40 to 60, standing in a line and bowing to passengers in an elegant and polite manner for 3- 4 hours of commuting hours , wearing beautiful navy costume of JR station staffs.
Japanese people like to make bows, and this custom is printed DNA I believe, however Nagano station staffs greetings are beyond bows. It shows their hospitality, politeness and decline. Many of them sometimes even smile to me, and makes me feel warm and smile. I strongly believe this is one of the most beautiful greetings in Japan and should bring to next generation and bring to other countries. Please check this greeting, when you come to Nagano next time in the morning.
I was so impressed that I asked my ex colleagues, "Do you aware, you are very polite and it is one of the thing people from Tokyo forget and thus, you should be proud ? Their answers are ; "Well, for us, it is just as usual and not big deal."
Pity! People in Nagano are not aware of their charm. I think that Nowhere in the world we can find such politeness, hospitality easily in the world.
And This is the point. Local Japanese people should have chances to recognize their appearing point to be more confident and also for success. And in this point, people from outside local area (like me) and foreigner can assist them.
Meanwhile, as for me, I don't put too much importance on kindness and politeness as usual Nagano people, (of course I am very polite and kind, but trying not too much) as, I realized when we care about kindness and politeness too much, I tend to diminish the quality of job, or power to focus on what we really have to do. Moreover, talking about harmony, I believe harmony can be created as a result of sincere discussion, not as a result of holding one's emotion.
In addition, their base philosophy is group ism. They love to follow majority's idea taking it for granted, while, I love to pursue my own life and act independently by taking possibility for my life.
What I'd like to say is, I am very different from them.
By the way, let me comment on Japanese group ism.
Some people hate Japanese group ism, and I was one of them till recently. However, I feel very mixed today, as, when you see huge snow and difficulty of agriculture here, you'll understand people should naturally need group ism to live lives.
Anyway I am not talking about group ism here, I am talking about diversity in Japan. Let's go back to diversity.
We can find more vivid diversity story in Tohoku.
Some months ago, I found Article in Tohoku newspaper, saying, many people in the Tohoku region recognize Areas located north of Fukushima is "Another Japan". The article proudly said they were different country.
I felt that was their love and pride to protect their culture.
Historically, Tohoku had not been part of Japan till 9th Century, when Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, the first SHOGUN of Japan, dispatched by Imperial court based in Kyoto , exterminated Ezo coalition led by Atelui.
Tohoku culture was based on Jomon culture. Jomon culture was flourished in Japan from 14,000BC to 300BC and based hunting and fishing.
Johon means Straw rope and this culture is characterized by straw rope pottery. It is said Jomon period had been very peaceful and people enjoyed truly harmonious life, thanks to community system to help each other.
Judging from the fact, Jomon had continued more than 10,000 years from 14,000BC, we could say true Japanese roots is from Jomon People. And this is where, our DNA of mind, to respect harmony came, I feel and believe. Personal I feel nostalgia for Tohoku without special reason.
When we check Japanese history, we find that we have no clear record about Jomon and yayoi period (Subsequent period of Jomon period. 300BC to 300AD). This is because the first chronicles of Japan, which was written in 720, didn't particularly describe Jomon Culture .
Mainstream of Official Japanese History began with prince Shotoku, who is said to enact The Seventeen-Article Constitution at 604 and the Twelve Level Cap and Rank System in 603 . In fact, Prince shotoku is the one who created first central government in Japan and created foundation of Japanese system.
However, again, Jomon period had continued more than 10,000 years, while it is only 1400 years that system of prince shotoku have been continuing. Therefore, again I would say Japanese people's real DNA is from Tohoku and Jomon Culture.
Well now I believe I explained the background of diversity in Japan and some example of diversity. And in fact it is very Natural because before Meiji restoration (1867) , Japan was divided in various domains and ruled by regional feudal load, being supervised by Edo Government.
Conclusion Japan is rich in diversity.
To understand and respect diversity inside country lead to understand/respect diversity outside country. Why not to start learning Japanese history, to understand and respect diversity of the world?
Thanks for reading.
Special Thanks to Hachinohe City, Aomori