AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Forbidden fruit

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, September 6, 2012

Step out of your cave: the world awaits you like a garden. The wind is laden with heavy fragrance that longs for you; and all the brooks would like to run after you. All things long for you.

– Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Most human beings spend their lives making mechanical reactions to exterior challenges. Just press any psychic button and you can make a man respond with irritation or shock or tears or envy. Not developed beyond the mechanical stage, he is the slave of everyone who presses the buttons.

– Vernon Howard

THREE years ago this month, a Seoul blogger visited the “South Korea-Japan Exchange Festival 2009 in Seoul”. This event was inaugurated in 2005 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the two countries. It was held simultaneously in both countries that year for the first time.

The blogger’s name is given in the Japanese katakana alphabet and not Chinese characters in the report I read, so I won’t try to Romanize it. He was inspired to write because he saw a presentation of the activities at the Kanto Festival held every summer in Akita and wanted to describe it for his South Korean readers. He added the following.

*****
The festival will also be held in Tokyo this year, and I’ve read that many Japanese will be singing Korean songs at the event. This has been widely covered by the South Korean mass media.

Until the 1980s, I had no contact with Japanese culture at all. But it was not possible to prevent the influx of culture. As was Adam when he ate the forbidden fruit, we were attracted to that culture, particularly the manga, the films, and the music.

Conditions in South Korea today are completely different. But the South Korean government has made little progress in opening up to Japanese culture. For example, we still can’t listen to J-pop on terrestrial radio, or regularly watch Japanese programs on TV.

I hope that a new cultural interaction arises as a result friendship deepens between the two countries. Korean culture is popular in Japan now, and South Korean television programs are shown in Japan. Isn’t there a need for the government to promote an opening and accept more Japanese culture?

(end translation)

Reading this, I was reminded that one of the most popular pieces of classical music during the U.S.-Soviet Cold War era was the Rimsky-Korsakov orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Nobody cared that both of them were Russian.

It would seem that if rules similar to those in South Korea were applied in the United States at that time, Americans wouldn’t have been able to listen to that music.

Why, it’s almost as if some powerful elements in the South Korean establishment don’t want Koreans to get along with the Japanese…

Meanwhile, the Japan-South Korea Festival 2012 in Tokyo will be held from 29 September to 2 October, and the companion event is still scheduled for 3 October, a holiday, in Seoul.

Speaking of the Kanto Festival in Akita, by the way, it’s no surprise that the South Korean blogger was impressed. It was held from 3-6 August this year, and this is what it looked like. Stick with it to see what they do with those lanterns. They’re said to represent rice plants.

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