The Broken Commandment and Japanese society

Published by Hiromi Nishiwaki on

I regret to say Japanese society is actually very cruel, we alienate something /somebody different from the "standard" easily, almost automatically.

When I was a child, I had suffered from a bullying at classroom which rejected and attacked someone/something different from others. New ideas, new challenges had not been welcomed by many teachers.

This tendency has been changing largely thanks to "westernization" however, I feel it still persists in Nagano.

I started to read the Broken Commandment (破戒) of Toson Shimazaki (島崎藤村). Story of a Teacher from Eta Class (穢多) (nonperson/untouchable class), who hides his identity and works as a teacher as a common class people.

You'll see how much actually Japanese society was/is cruel and alienate something someone "Different" in this book. Japanese society did/does this in the name of "justice", so it is twice bad and sad. I am upset when a smiling gentle old Japanese woman "Alienates" something different, because "people says so". She believes it is right and never doubts.

I wonder how much courage Shimazaki needed to write such a revealing book to talk about "Hidden Truth" of Japan in the Meiji Period.

In Nagano, people is suggested to "HIDE"(隠す) one's true feelings and ideas, to keep "Superficial harmony"(perhaps over-expression), still today.

Woman with intelligence or ideas are not appreciated still today. Woman with smile, without brain is liked, I feel so.

As result, a "good people" had to work for 14 hours at Silk Mill in Suwa (諏訪製糸工場) city in Nagano to support industrial revolution in Japan and they had to go to Manchurian development (満蒙開拓) or participated in the wars as Kamikaze pilots (神風特攻隊) or military soldiers.

When I went to a local post office, a old man around 80 years old or so, talked me about the event when he withdrew from Manchuria, He said, "I saw many people jumped into the river to escape from Russians, I can't forget" - --

It was the first time I met him at the post office, and when he gave me a small change for my post cards....I am sure his emotion was so oppressed that he needed to tell this story to some kind people.

However, I just smiled and told him "You had suffered enough, now you better forget and enjoy as much as you can, also for the people died."

What Nagano learned from the past?

I saw old people made protest demonstrations in a abandoned street in depopulated city, against war, saying "No more war, No more war" let's save the Article 9"

However, the group was consist of only old people, around 80 to 90--- not young people. So sad... Yes, No more war. However, If you want to avoid war, you have to learn, about Wars first.

What makes wars, what we can do to prevent from an outbreak of wars. We need to know who/what can be enemies.. and many more. Does Nagano do this for future? I am afraid Not.

They spoke up, which was very good, but for me, it looks they didn't enough learn --- they don't analyze the events and take measures for them. I am upset about it for our future. They are rather emotional than analytic.

Best solution to keep peace should be to learn and take measures to avoid similar events.

To develop mass of submissive "GOOD" people doesn't help to keep peace or to save a country from possible wars or invasion.

We have to develop a "Thinker" or "Fighter for good", or Samurai.

I worry about "Good children" here very much - They are waiting to have an attention from adults and look so anxious to have consents from others. However, you must not care about consents from others too much to achieve your goal. Why our society encourages us to have consents from others so badly? We better to change educational philosophy.

Nagano should give up "Superfiscal" GOOD /Harmonious society and regain its spirit of Samurai.


The Broken Commandment is a Japanese novel written by Tōson Shimazaki published in 1906 (late Meiji period) under the title Hakai (破戒). The novel deals with the burakumin, formerly known as eta. This book enjoyed great popularity and influence in Japan.

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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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