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Today, I’d like to talk about Japanese love stories, and how a few of them compare to ones in the West.

First, let me introduce Lafcadio Hearn.
He was born in 1850, and was one of the first great writers to bring Japanese literature to the West.  He is famous for his collections of translated and re-told Japanese legends and ghost stories.

His wife, a Japanese, told him a ghost story about a woman who was dying.  On her deathbed, she made him promise never to marry again.
For a while, the husband mourned, but eventually he met a woman he loved and got married again.
After the wedding night, his ex-wife's ghost came to their bedside, and killed...

the new wife.


Follow me past the orange ghost.

Hearn was mortified by the story and asked his wife, why didn’t she kill her unfaithful husband?  Why kill an innocent woman, who probably did not know anything of the promise, instead?

But his wife did not say, don't worry, it's only the old story.  She didn't say it was old times, like in Grimm's fairy tales.  She simply said, “That is not the Japanese way.”

I often wonder, was Hearn relieved or more horrified to hear her said that?

In love, as in other things in Japan, the form (and obey the rules!) is more important than the positive result.  If you break the rule, in this case the family harmony, there are consequence.  Even if you don't know the rule, because the tragedy is not that you die to pay for the mistake, but no one told you that rule.  

So what are the rules of Japanese love stories?

There is a famous one by Soseki Natsume, probably the most celebrate novelist in Japan's history, titled “こころ” (“Kokoro” - “Feeling”).

The main character began living with a widowed landlord and her daughter, and he fell in love with the daughter.  Later he suspected his childhood friend had also fallen in love with her.
The friend confessed this love for the daughter to the main character.  The main character proposed marriage to the daughter, and shortly after, the friend committed suicide.  The story ends there, but it's implied that because of this, the main character will, at some point, commit suicide too.

This story is often assigned to students in high school.  We learned about main character and his friend's profound suffering, and the consequences (death) for breaking the “rules” of love.  What was the main character supposed to do to play by the rules?  The feeling among Japanese readers is that he was supposed to put aside his own feeling, step aside and let his childhood friend marry the girl, even though he was there first.  This is considered noble in Japan.  In the West it would be considered pathetic, even cowardly.  How come he doesn't stand up and fight for the woman he loves?

Another Japanese favorite recurring story was from same author, titled “それから” (“Sorekara” - “And Then”).  As in Kokoro, there is a love triangle with the main character, Daisuke, who is a rich young man, and his best friend competing for one woman both love.  This time Daisuke character helped his friend to marry the woman Daisuke loved.  But in this story, eventually Daisuke couldn’t help himself so he confessed his love for her to his friend.
His friend got so mad and told everybody who could ruin Daisuke, including his father and brother.  Daisuke's father support him financially and he was supposed to just marry this girl according to father's wishes, but he broke that rule so now he is screwed.  The story ends on quite a depressing tone. The whole situation was quite depressing and pathetic.

In the West, this is a straight tragedy story I think, and the main character is totally a victim of an evil friend who became an enemy.  In Japan though, this is a cautionary tale.  If you do the noble thing you have to do it perfectly, meaning step aside and keep your mouth shut.  The main character brought on his own destruction by breaking the rule, expressing his true feeling and not keeping his mouth shut.  Yes, the friend was bad, but the result was all Daisuke's fault.

Now let's talk about a Western love story - “The Graduate”.
In the climax, Benjamin grabs Elaine from the altar, stealing her from her groom.  To the Japanese eye, Benjamin did a horrible dishonorable thing in front of all of their relatives, whom Benjamin owes respect to, because of their station.  The Japanese conclude that the movie has a very grim ending.  They are on a bus, lost and confused, shamed and dishonored with no way to make amend, and their future is very dark and they both know it.  
Which I totally disagree with, and I think Western viewers did too.  I didn’t see anything grim about it.  He was the Harvard graduate!  And I believe that time of America was the golden age, when anyone smart with a degree could do well.  They love each other enough to take a big risk together.  How could it go wrong?

But if you think about it, Daisuke from “And Then” and Benjamin from “The Graduate” was the same kind of character and in the same kind of environment.  Both were graduates of fine universities and had the world as their oyster.  Both were content to drift in life and take their time to discover.  Daisuke’s downfall started with helping his friend to marry the woman he himself loved.  Benjamin’s mistake was sleeping with the woman who was his future girlfriend’s mother.
If you consider the cultural different, both are the quite fatal mistakes.

Daisuke didn’t know what to do in his life, neither did Benjamin. They both broke their society's unwritten rules and both were both wasting away their fortunes. Luckily for them, their rich family support them without questions. Benjamin may support himself eventually, but Daisuke didn’t have to.
So, in the Graduate, love helped Benjamin to put himself together. In “And Then”, love ruined Daisuke.

Finally, I’d like to introduce “金色夜叉” Konjiki-Yasha
This is one of the most famous Japanese love story.
Atami, one of the most famous resort towns in Japan, is the story setting, and is proud of this enough to make a statue there.  But you may not recognize them as lovers from the statue...  Because the statue recreate the most famous scene which the guy, Kankichi, is stepping on her like a foot stool.

Kankichi had a fiancé called Omiya. But her parents forced her into marry the rich guy instead. He became a loan shark for revenge (so he could be richer than Omiya's rich husband). When they reunite, he humiliated her like I explained.
Because of the cheesy line he spat kicking her, many Japanese guys are literally in love with Kankichi.   He said, “I will make the night cloud with my tears, this month, next month and for years to come!”

This story is vaguely similar with “Wuthering Heights”
Both guys love a woman who chooses the rich man instead. They both were driven by lost love and revenge.
But of course, Kathy did this with her own will, and she and Heathcliff always had a love and hate relationship. Because their love was so strong, they couldn’t control their hatred neither.
On the other hand, I very much doubt Kankichi ever loved Omiya.
She even helped Kankichi to study abroad, with her husband’s money. Talk about a loser!  
If Heathcliff ever tried to kick her like that, she would have ripped him apart.  That still would made the great love story.

What do you think?  

Originally posted to YellowFroggyAttack on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 03:10 PM PST.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I understand the first one , (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hatrax, worldlotus, ichibon, slowbutsure

    if the ghost of the first wife / love lives on within him ,
    it will not be much more than death if she lives with a man who loves another .
    This is kind of like what I am going through now .

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 03:24:18 PM PST

  •  There is another layer of ambiguity (9+ / 0-)

    in the titles. Kokoro also means heart, and sorekara also means therefore. I am sure that there are more layers of meaning than I know with my very limited Japanese.

    The most bizarre love story I know of from Japan is Metropolis, where the main character falls in love with a killer robot, and at the critical moment Ray Charles is heard singing I Can't Stop Loving You.

    Mononoke Hime is much more than a love story. It is wonderful in Japanese, but the English dub has some weird casting.

    I always disliked The Graduate. The conventional view is that true love triumphed, but neither the mother nor the daughter will be able to forget that he had an affair with the mother first.

    Some better Western love stories are the very unconventional Westerns High Noon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Little Big Man, and Cat Ballou, the equally unconventional mainstream movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (Sidney Poitier, as it turns out), and the fantasies What Dreams May Come (Novel by Richard Matheson, starring Robin Williams), and Tim Burton's super-tall tale, Big Fish.

    Rosenstrasse is an excellent historical love story movie in German, with Nazis.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 03:44:58 PM PST

    •  Thank you for the comments (7+ / 0-)

      Yes, "Kokoro" is more than love story.
      The suffering of the main character was not simple.
      I appreciated the deep thought.
      but aside that,

      The woman character was ignored.
      We don't even know what she was actually thinking or who she could have loved.
      Most importantly, how could anybody do that to somebody you supposedly love?

      I don't think those guys ever thought about that,
      which to me, that's not love.

      About the graduate,
      if he didn't know, he would end up loving her daughter
      what does he needs to be forgiven?

      The only reason she found out about was,
      her vindictive mother told everybody.

      Since they probably won't see her again for long times, sound quite happy ending to me.

      •  The Japanese Graduate (3+ / 0-)

        Thanks again for your great diaries!

        "The Graduate", it seems to me, was about what the title says it was about. You're about to be graduated from school and have to make the big, singular decision about the direction for the rest of your life. Some of the conventional choices are not very attractive ("Plastics.")

        At the same time the subject graduates from college fooling around to making a decision about the rest of his romantic life. He decides in favor of love, rather than for conventional plastics.

        Heart versus conformity, not just in marriage but in life. He has graduated from the orthodox path.

        That rejection and rebellion is what drove Conservatives crazy at the time; they hated the movie, as well they should. The plastics guy and his plastics life was Conservatism in a word.

        Most Hollywood movies, including (and maybe especially) those that are called Liberal, are in fact Conservative. Something like "Wall St.", where the rich successful guy is Gordon "Greed is good" Gekko, and the easily conned Liberal guy and union guy end up taken to the cleaners and broke. And Oliver Stone is supposed to be a Liberal? Yeah, right.

        So Japanese, by and large, yield to the conventions, the rules. Which makes them a very conservative society. Except, perhaps out of human necessity, they have carved out an area – humor – in which they can act silly and dress silly and laugh at others and laugh at themselves and embarrass themselves in public. And it's all okay. It seems like society's pressure value.

        Sorry to ramble so long (bows, but at the wrong depth).

        A Southerner in Yankeeland

        To save your life and our country, read "Pity The Billionaire" by Thomas Frank, and "Winner-Take-All-Politics" by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson. Then read more books.

        by A Southerner in Yankeeland on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 11:56:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In Japan, a salaryman can get drunk and say pretty (0+ / 0-)

          much anything to his boss with no repercussions, or it used to be like that ~20 years ago.

          ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

          by slowbutsure on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 02:51:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Of course (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            duhban, slowbutsure

            there are a consequence, if they remember those.

            What are you thinking of is,
            any kind of misbehavior would be forgiven.
            Just like throwing up on your boss or something.
            or saying "You are fat."

            But if you ever start talking about
            anything important to attack anybody, especially it's true and means something.
            It will never be forgotten.

        •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nzanne, duhban, TerryDarc

          I was beginning to think everybody hates me now.
          I mean for a lack of ability to explain.

          That was what I thought, too.

          They are some path you have to go through,
          For Ben, that was it.
          Probably not a conventional way, but needed to happen.

          And there are many other ways to screw people to get ahead, but that was not one of them.
          (No pun was intended)

          Oliver Stone is very popular in Japan, since he has some favorable way to describe Japan historically, and criticize United States instead.

          I think he is very dangerous man.
          Just like make Gordon out the some kind of hero.
          He has a way to manipulate people the way almost like Hitler was good at.

          Theatrically, make a people feel good about themselves while they are contemplating something evil...

          •  YFA - I may not fully understand (4+ / 0-)

            the cultural differences here, but I certainly appreciate the time you're taking to open my eyes to them.

            Really interesting diary. So easy to miscommunicate and not ever even know it.

            Thank you.

            The number of children and teens killed by guns in one year would fill 134 classrooms of 20 students each. (Chlldren's Defense Fund, 2013)

            by nzanne on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 04:07:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Clearly The Graduate is about flaunting society (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and flaunting family, which I think that will not wash in Japan. Although as I say this, I realize that the outsider has a role (Mifune in several Kurosawa films plays the wandering outsider). So we know that Japanese are tempted by breaking the rules even if they must suffer for it.

      We also learned in the Chiebukuro story (two great diaries!) that you don't break your promise (even) to a wife and certainly not to your husband. The man who watched his child being born cannot escape punishment, even if what he did was in some ways noble or good.

      You certainly don't break faith with your society (like the 1967 The Graduate) in Japanese society and get away with it. Someone's got to die and, for dramatic effect, if it's someone unexpected (to us westerners at least), so much the better.

      Some time YFA, please explain my favorite film: Ikiru. The weird long funeral scene in the middle has always puzzled me.

      What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

      by TerryDarc on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:08:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The funeral (0+ / 0-)

        was at the end of the movie in the original screenplay.  Then one of Kurosawa's colleagues on the picture suggested moving it to the middle and doing the second half all as flashbacks.

        The discussion at the funeral is about everybody discovering (slowly) that it was Watanabe who got the park built, by using his knowledge of the bureaucracy to manipulate the various apparatchiks.  Each of them thought it was his own idea.

      •  Thank you and (0+ / 0-)

        sorry, I don't know much about "Ikiru"
        (You mentioned it before. Thank you for your patient.)

        What I found out was only story line.

        Could you explain the question more specific?
        What exactly made you puzzle?
        and what can I help?

        What this movie tell us is,
        I believe, Japanese are the same.
        We want what everybody want.
        We don't care what everybody think.
        but the society won't let us.

        Watanabe, the main character was dying.
        He was no longer afraid of the rule.
        He pursued what he wanted.

        At the funeral, everybody else saw what he did.
        and realize everybody else wanted the same.

        but reality was, nobody else was dying.
        next day was just like any other day.
        Everybody keep doing what they always did.
        nothing will change.

        except the park
        Watanabe built was remained as his effort ...

        •  Well, young as you are, my dear... (0+ / 0-)

 might take a trip back to Ikiru and here, singing in the bar. I guess I thought the family scene was unnecessary. Very jarring! All of a sudden we see the funeral and a bunch of arguing takes place with one guy (one of his co-workers, I think) gets really, really pissed at the deconstruction of Watanabe's life. That's beautiful but the placing of this scene in the movie is just weird.

          The funeral with the old ladies (who came in to honor Watanabe for being a human being instead of a faceless bureaucrat) give away the ending, which is the park is build, the gangsters and city hall are seen to bee ineffective and stupid against his more force.

          Watanabe is played by Shimura Takashi (who played in Godzilla as the little faceless scientist) is so perfect as a guy who's let his life run out without doing anything. Nothing. Then cancer, then a brief romance, getting drunk with an artist, singing about love, then facing down city hall, the crooks, the other departments, etc. In the end his glory is this tiny park that these old ladies wanted to build on top of a toxic dump (or something).

          What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

          by TerryDarc on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:47:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, thank you (0+ / 0-)

            and still I don't understand your question

            very jarring? because?
            what exactly did they do to annoy you?
            sorry I couldn't find the scene you are talking about
            and I really want to know.

            •  I am not annoyed... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ...but I am puzzled by why this scene of Watabe's funeral is placed in the middle of the film. According to another poster, it was originally place at the end of the film which would have been even worse. I guess, I think the scene of the funeral could have been eliminated, especially given the perfection of the rest of the film.

              The other part of the film is about Watanabe's wasted life, faceless little, petty bureaucrat - but wait! He get's it finally and decides to live. He faces down crooks, many city departments and gets the park build for the old ladies.

              Then the stupid funeral scene with workers and the vice-mayor arguing over Watanabe's real contribution. The city officials are tearing Watanabe down and his body isn't even cold yet.

              Actually, as long as Watanabe gets to sit in the swing in the little park, in the snow, all alone with his life work done put at the end of the film, you could put the funeral wherever you wanted. It was just very puzzling when I first saw the film and again and again, puzzling.

              Put the funeral scene in the director's cut on DVD. Or, leave it out. You have to see the film and talk about it or not as the case may be.

              What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

              by TerryDarc on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 05:13:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I see (0+ / 0-)

                I may missing the point here,
                I didn't like the grandpa's funeral at all.
                There were a lot of drunken people, being silly.

                Japanese funeral turns to get ugly.
                Since funeral tends to hold for the oldest person in the group. So you couldn't talk things in front of the person.
                Now, you could feel free to talk.
                It tends to get very disrespectful.

                They were talking about our grandpa, but showed no respect for us neither.

                But, the funeral is the one of the most honest and truthful moment for everybody.

                That may be meant something.

  •  The Japanese interpretation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hatrax, slowbutsure

    of The Graduate seems on point to me.  Like, she's going to get over the fact that he fucked her mother?  Please... he was a weak vessel and she would figure that out.

    I hardly think that the "Japanese mind" exists.  No group is a monolith.  IQ84 is a love story written by a Japanese man.  In it, love is hopeful and elevating, but not a guarantee of perfection in life.

    •  To be fair, Murakami (3+ / 0-)

      is hardly a typical Japanese author.  He was shunned in Japan for many years until he got popular in the West.  

      Odds and ends about life in Japan:

      by Hatrax on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 04:33:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Once again, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        enough with the "typical."   Yukio Mishima -- was he typical?

        Tanizaki Yunichiro (The Makioka Sisters)?  The Tale of Genjii?

      •  Murakami (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Youffraita, slowbutsure

        is still a controversial writer in Japan.
        There are many books about how he is so overrating.
        Once again, not because he doesn’t understand the Japanese mind.
        (Most of his books are full of suicide, what not to like?)

        He is hated by Japanese critics and publishing industry.
        because he doesn’t play Japanese rule.
        There are way of doing things in Japan.

        In fact, at the time of the war,
        Many writers were cooperating with militarism.
        There were many activists to fight against and tortured and killed.

        I know, these things had happened everywhere also.
        but what worries me is,
        NHK just had a special program, redeeming those writers.
        Not the one you expect, not the one who sacrificed themselves for the better future.

        The writers who worked for the government and wrote the all kind of propaganda stories. Because after the war, those writers were punished by public.
        NHK tried to tell everybody, those writers was always right, and never did anything wrong…

        •  OK, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Murakami is overrated?  The Graduate is overrated!  It's not literature.  Edith Wharton, John Updike, Saul Bellow, Michael Chabon write about love in western society.

          The Graduate is a silly movie that ends at the point where it should begin.  Is "love" enough for these two people who have embarassed their families, dealt a blow to E's groom and have this sordid history?  Is spoiled brat Ben even employed?  Please... but, we can agree to disagree.

          •  The Graduate (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slowbutsure, YellowFroggyAttack

            was iconic for its time.

            D'ya know, "Mrs. Robinson" was only about 29 (or maybe two or three years older than Dustin Hoffman) when it was filmed?

            Gotta love those legs.

            English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

            by Youffraita on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 06:53:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  As my Dad said of the final scene in the bus (0+ / 0-)

            "They'll never make it."

            ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

            by slowbutsure on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 02:55:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  But I think the point of the movie (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              was that it was better to live in real love than to live a lie. The newlyweds will not have an easy time of it, naturally, Benjamin rejecting the advice, "Plastics, my boy!" and going his own way.  The movie epitomizes the 60's: trust yourself, believe in love.

              What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

              by TerryDarc on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 10:00:57 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  point taken (7+ / 0-)

      true, nothing is unique about Japanese mind

      There is no such thing,
      "Only Japanese think that way"

      what I wanted to explain was,
      how the society encourage that idea.

      For example,in Japan
      Adultery is a crime.
      You could sue the lover taking your spouse.

      Once again, The Graduate,
      He was a weak vessel?
      He was the virgin who seduced by the unhappily married woman.
      To his eyes, and to most I believe,
      In that point, he was not hurting anybody.
      and how could he know, he was going to meet her daughter and in love with her?

      If Elaine can forgive her mother but not Benjamin,
      She has a serious issue.
      But I just don't think that.

      •  Only men think this way. (0+ / 0-)

        Never turn it down, no matter the consequences.  He's a man who allowed himself to be used (and, in turn, used) another human being sexually.  A human being in his social strata, that he had reason to believe he would meet again and again.  What does Elaine have to forgive her mother for?

        Benjamin reminds me of what Gus says of Jake:  "any wind can blow him."

        Harvard?  Big deal!  No character!

        •  So are all men typical? (3+ / 0-)

          Only men think this way?  Yet all Japanese thought is free and unrestrained by societal norms, and all Japanese authors are atypical, as you suggest above?  

          "Never turn it down, no matter the consequences."  I personally know several women who did exactly that.  Are you really saying that only men act rashly out of sexual passion?  Or am I completely missing your point?  

          Odds and ends about life in Japan:

          by Hatrax on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 05:20:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And "alienation of affection" was (0+ / 0-)

          actionable in this country as well until recently.  Maybe Ben's father could have done him the favor of giving Elaine some experience?  Would that work for you too?

          •  How can any artist (0+ / 0-)

            be typical?  That's an oxymoron.  We are discussing one situation, Benjamin and Elaine.  Benjamin is weak and no prize.  Just IMO.  You say, what he did wasn't so bad ... and how could he know?  Well... he was disgusted with himself and went for it.  No joy or tenderness.  Seriously, an awful spectacle.  Just say no.

            Happy Endings is a movie where the situation is reversed (woman sleeps with virginal son, falls for father, loses father.)  Consequences occur.  Nothing is free.

            •  I don’t put (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Youffraita, congenitalefty

              “The Graduate” in any pedestal neither.
              but cultural significance is undeniable.

              Anyway, Ben made a mistake.
              But that mistake shouldn’t cost him any more than embarrassment.

              Benjamin committed the adultery.
              In Japanese law, Mr. Robinson can sue him.
              Since Ben doesn’t have much money, he may successfully sue Ben’s father also.
              Those story spread, nobody would hire Ben after that.
              This law is still exercised by many by the way.

              Then it would stupid Elaine to stay with him,
              Because he should have known better.

              But “The Graduate” was happened in States, right?

              I thought Ben’s character was weak in the book and rather pathetic also. But what I love about the story was the different possibility.  To me, the meaning of graduate was, they can live life without the burden of the family. It’s all up to them for the future outcome.

          •  What? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Let's just think for an argument sake.

            Elaine was the one confusing young woman.
            or rather curious.

            She seduced Ben's father.
            (Other way around may be difficult to justify, since there is a double standard.)

            Ben's father gave in.

            Should Ben forgive her?
            I believe it's tougher.
            Especially knowing she initiated it.

            So to be fair.

            Ben's father seduced her.
            She was just curious. He educated her.

            Shouldn't Ben feel Elaine was violated by him?
            I understand Ben would be mad at his father but why Elaine?

            Because Elaine should belong to Ben first?
            Elaine didn't keep her legs shut?
            Sounds kind of male chauvanistic, doesn't it?

            I know, partner sleeping with your parent is icky,
            but they didn't know.

        •  Why do you need to be used? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ahianne, Youffraita, slowbutsure

          Benjamin was a single.
          The single man met a willing partner.
          He didn't use anybody nor be used.

          If Mrs. Robinson kept her mouth shut,
          of course there were nothing to be forgiven for.

          But not only she couldn't keep her secret.
          She accused Benjamin for that.

          That is the worst kind of lie, I believe.

          How could you defend her for that??

          Since Elaine knew her mother,
          I believe she could see right through her.

          by the way, I am not a man.

          •  I don't want to seem like I (0+ / 0-)

            don't think that your point of view is valid.  I said above "we can agree to disagree," but my recollection of the movie is that Ben was reluctant to have sex with Anne Bancroft and was later disgusted and repelled by it, but he kept on.  In Indochine, a sheltered child falls for her mother's lover, in a situation where tenderness and passion existed between mother and lover.  The lover had become cruel to the mother and the mother sensed his capability to hurt her adored child, so sought to end (unsuccessfully) the romance.  

            Just saying, situations differ.  IMO, Benjamin is exposed as weak.  I think E's mother wanted more for E.

            •  I really cannot understand (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              the part, you attack Benjamin but not Mrs. Robinson.
              She didn’t try to protect Elaine, it was more like a revenge.
              If she cared about her, she shouldn’t had seduced him in the first place.

              There are the Greek myth about,
              The step mom seduced the prince, he rejected her. Humiliated by the rejection, she told the king and the king punished him. Was that the serpent?
              Ben didn’t reject her, probably he should had. But outcome was the same.

              Hell has no fury like a woman scorned

              If Elaine knows her mother at all, she will know Ben didn’t violate her, in spite of what Mrs. Robinson said.  Of course he hurt her, of course he treated her badly, after all he left for someone who can be her daughter, oh wait.
              I don’t deny that was a mistake and rather big one. But not big enough to ruin his life.

              •  For me, the discussion was (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                what kind of future do B and E really have?  Is the only impediment to their happiness Mrs. Robinson's inability to contain herself and keep a secret?

                IMO, no.  Is Elaine at least entitled to know this fact about her intended?  Would sweet ignorance been the answer?  Could Ben have practiced honesty in the first instance and explained himself to Elaine?  That would have shown some character.

                Throughout the movie, Ben is seen as aimless and hapless until that last scene.  Are we supposed to cheer at his finally being impelled to act (even if it's ridiculous and foolish) and conclude that he has become a grown-up?  "Love" has transformed this boring and passive and asexual (four years in college and still a virgin?) individual into a hero for our times?

                I like a lot of movies and I like happy endings to movies, but movies are fantasies in the way that literature is not; closely examined, most movie romances are silly.

                •  What does it serve anything? (0+ / 0-)

                  If Ben was knowingly cheated on Elaine,
                  that's one thing.

                  But HE DIDN'T KNOW.

                  If your boyfriend slept with your sister when they were high school.
                  Do you want to know?
                  and why?

                  If your sister tells you, she slept with your boyfriend a long time ago, will you trust her more?

                  If Elaine start telling Benjamin
                  every sexual contact she ever had in her life,
                  Does it please Benjamin?

                  Since two people know about,
                  Benjamin should had told Elaine before her mother told her.
                  That was stupid of him.

                  Did you know the Graduate's writer Charles Webb?

                  He wrote it shortly after graduating from Williams College. He was only 24.

                  You should give Ben and Charles some slack.

      •  'Alienation of affection' is a law still on the (4+ / 0-)

        books in some states. So yes, it used to be that someone could be sued here for getting between spouses, it just doesn't happen very often anymore.

        And there are major currents and eddies within cultures where many who grew up there will react in a similar way, or at least catch the references, whether or not they agree with the point made. America has grown much, much more diverse in points of view and reactions even in my lifetime. Once cable TV started offering 100 or more channels of independent programming, the commonality of our experience essentially shattered.

        When I was a kid, there were essentially 3 channels, if something important was going on, all changing the channel got you was a different camera angle. So even when people didn't like what Dr King was saying in a speech, or was shocked when police accosted a reporter on the floor of a political convention, everyone heard it, saw it and could talk about it from having seen it themselves.

        Oh, please look back at the crane diary, I posted a comment that didn't show up for a long time for some reason. The kame were hiding it, I think. ;-)

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
        ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

        by FarWestGirl on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:01:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  thank you for the comments (0+ / 0-)

          yes, I just read your old comment. thank you very much.
          I'd like to think more carefully before, answer those.

        •  I appreciate the fact (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ahianne, Youffraita, slowbutsure

          You try to understand Japanese culture.
          and even go that far to accept the remark of "Ugly American".

          I admire you for that, since we Japanese can never take that.( I do, but not many of us)

          That is the biggest different between American and Japanese. You are a lot more understanding and accepting the new things and others view.

          The other day, NPR was talking about "the forced married". and one American teacher called in to say,
          We should all respect their culture, because that is no different than American force their kids to go to college.

          Well, not quite, I thought.

          Sorry, maybe that's not the answer of your comments.
          but I appreciate your thought.

          •  When and where I grew up has a lot to do with (0+ / 0-)

            it. And I admit, my personal outlook is to value honesty, so recognizing that many Americans do things out of ignorance or arrogance that can make us appear 'ugly' to other cultures is only admitting the facts, for me, (I'm also old enough to remember the actual book by that name and its lesson). People are people, those who had the benefit of early exposure to tolerance that I was gifted with as a kid tend to turn out very different from the Tea Baggers who exemplify the xenophobia that comes with the opposite type of environment.

            I totally agree with you that forced marriage and expectations of college are very different, (on many levels). While I agree with respecting other cultures' traditions in general, I don't think that that 'respecting' means giving a free pass to actions or behavior that is reprehensible, like honor killings or truly forced marriages, (arranged marriages I see as separate, as long as the couple has a reasonable option to refuse, I can respect that). Comedian Bill Cosby had a line in one of his routines that I've always loved, and I think applies here, 'Don't leave your mind so open your brains fall out'. ;-)

            I look forward to reading your future diaries. I've 'followed' you, so hopefully I won't miss them if I'm not around when they post.


            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
            ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

            by FarWestGirl on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 10:17:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's a great line (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              bow to Mr. Cosby

              Arrange marriage is still very common in Japan.
              In fact a lot of my friends got married that way.
              And I agree, I don't see much objection.
              Since family play a big role in Japanese society, seem like a safer bet.
              (But I also cannot deny the fact, extramarital affair is very common)

              And boarder of the arrange marriage and force marriage is very vague.

              Just like another caller who called in to speak,
              she protested the forced marriage never took the place.
              which totally contradicted the host, since they came from the same society.

              Then the host explained, there is.
              The caller may not think that was forced, but there are a lot of coercion and manipulation which is really difficult for young people to say no to. And I totally agreed.

              I really believe there are some culture, just simply bad.
              The human right should always tramped that.

              •  The definition and expectations of 'marriage' make (0+ / 0-)

                a big difference, too. In some older cultures, 'marriage' was more an alliance between families and a chance to combine resources, (land, money, trade routes, livestock, etc), or attach to a dynasty than a personal relationship between two people. And individuals were allowed or even expected to have personal relationships, (affairs of the heart), outside the confines of the alliance, as long as they fulfilled their obligation to their family interests. So those 'marriages' were more like family partnerships, the husband and wife weren't expected to fulfill their spouse's personal wants and needs. But more people today expect 'marriage' to be personal first and anything beyond that is a bonus, so the expectations are completely different.

                lol I heard Mr Cosby say that line more than 30 years ago and it struck me as so perfect at the time that I can still hear him saying it in my mind. :-)

                Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
                ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

                by FarWestGirl on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:16:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  The ending of the Graduate (3+ / 0-)

      didn't seem all that 'happy' to me, and I think this was intentional by the director. There was the passion, excitement, rebellion, and spontaneity when Ben and Elaine ran away from the wedding. But then when they were on the bus, reality started to seep into both of their minds.

      Now what.

      And it looked like neither was really looking forward to what was coming down the road in the near future. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt. That's what I got out of the final minutes of the film.

      •  I beginning to wonder (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Youffraita, slowbutsure

        where did I read the review.

        I was so convinced, that was Japanese.
        but it may be an American review...since your comment is so familiar.

        and I have an another realization.

        For long time, we used the song "The sound of silence"
        at the graduation day music.

        I could never figure out why,
        since the song was quite depressing for the graduation day.
        Then I thought, maybe they don't know the meaning of the song, they are just using for the title of the movie.

        but now if I think about it

        Maybe to Japanese,

        That was a happy ending!

        I thought that was a happy ending.
        and the because the reason I explained above
        maybe to a lot of Japanese also thought the same.

        The couple who did unspeakable
        in Japanese culture (or any culture)
        We probably cherish the fact they did.
        and they got away with it.
        We ruled for them and we know, they are all right.

        That's what I think, anyway...

      •  Yes, Ozy (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ozy, slowbutsure, YellowFroggyAttack

        that's what I took away from the film too.

        And yet: it IS a happy ending. It is all of our happy endings: what now? what next? I'm a college (or high school) grad, I'm on my own, with my love: where do I go? What do I do? How do I make it from here?

        It is the quintessential meaning of "commencement" and that is the whole theme of The Graduate. Well, or so I think.

        English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

        by Youffraita on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 07:12:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes exactly (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          People wonder when they achieve something.
          That is how they are keep going.

          Just because they are confusing,
          the society shouldn't shoot them down.

          And that's what happened to Daisuke.

          The ending was far more grim and depressing.
          Because literally he lost all the connection to the society.
          Since Japanese society was all connected. Not likely for him to find the way other than become a monk.
          - which there are many stories like that accordingly.

          Once he defiled to his family and society.
          There were literally no way to go. And described as such.
          and reader appreciate the fact, he is going to be really really screwed
          or find the religion.

          Benjamin and Elaine was facing the crossing.
          Not the most easy way.
          They are all confused and lost, but yet
          they will find their way, and we know they will.
          I would say, that's a happy ending.

          •  Yes, exactly: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            They are all confused and lost, but yet
            they will find their way, and we know they will.
            I would say, that's a happy ending.
            I think you understand The Graduate better than some others do.

            English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

            by Youffraita on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 05:40:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  The director did it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        This from

        On Inside the Actors Studio (1994), director Mike Nichols claims that the final "sobering" emotion that Benjamin and Elaine go through was due to the fact that he had just been shouting at the two of them to laugh in the scene. The actors were so scared that after laughing they stopped, scared. Nichols liked it so much, he kept it.
  •  I think I will have to think for a while to know (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl, Youffraita

    what I think.

    Rivers are horses and kayaks are their saddles

    by River Rover on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 04:55:48 PM PST

  •  Atami Odyssey (4+ / 0-)

    An old train station
    A path through fantastic shops
    Where is the ocean?

    Down the curving hill
    How light this load seems today!
    Through the long tunnel

    Waves bounce off the pier
    A strange circle of quiet
    View from boat hotel

    Fireworks reflect
    Waves carry rainbows at night
    And cardboard in day

    Journey down the road
    Monument to Meiji times
    A tree and a rock

    Bottles in the sand
    Empty buildings on the cliff
    Beach at Atami

    My load is heavy
    Mount Fuji was more benign
    Rested; exhausted.

    The United States for All Americans

    by TakeSake on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 05:57:40 PM PST

  •  Japanese Love Stories (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, slowbutsure

    Aside from my old "Japanese Fairy Tales" book the first one I know about from the context of being a love story that happens to be Japanese was "Ko-ko- Kyo-shi". That was many years ago via a friend that got a videotape from a friend who got it somehow.


    That was certainly an... interesting way to be introduced to Japanese stories. Anyway, at the time Manga was more interesting so I stuck with that for a while.

    Some years later "Chura San" was on. It was certainly a direction change from the usual pattern of 15-minute heroine dramas. Then it was followed by "Manten".

    They went back to the usual formula for a long time after that.

    The United States for All Americans

    by TakeSake on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 09:18:07 PM PST

  •  What I like about JP love stories (3+ / 0-)

    Is someone always dies and leaves behind another with bittersweet memories and eternal (one supposes) love for the departed.

    Well, yeah.

    No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

    by koNko on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 11:30:13 PM PST

    •  Double suicide (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Youffraita, slowbutsure

      was the popular writing in the Edo period.

      I guess, the death grantee the eternal love...

      •  Sounds like opera. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

        by Youffraita on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 07:19:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly: Purity + Eternity (0+ / 0-)

        An unbeatable combination.

        In fact, in Chinese love stories we have some similar themes but I think in Japanese, some Shito ethos comes into play in terms of "Pure Heart" and "Eternal Love" and loyalty.

        In China, it is usually the young lovers as the victims of society and particularly evil "old ginger" male protagonists, which is also a pretty interesting cultural meme. Hence, "Romeo and Juliet" is a very popular western story in China and when my wife visited Italy a couple of years ago, one of the high points was a "Romeo & Juliet day tour" - touristy but fun, I guess.

        No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

        by koNko on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:20:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fascinating stories. . . (3+ / 0-)

    especially where you compare them to similar stories from the west.  The contrast does much to help us to understand the Japanese perspective and frame of mind, which are often impenetrable mysteries to westerners.

    I especially appreciate you mentioning Lafcadio Hearn, a Greek/Irish American who has almost been forgotten in his homeland.

    Canem Praeteri, Cave Modo Hominem. (Never mind the dog, just watch out for the human)

    by T C Gibian on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 08:04:55 AM PST

    •  that's a good point (0+ / 0-)

      I don't mean anyway to disparaging Lafcadio Hearn or any other foreign figures in Japanese history.

      Most of foreigners widely known in Japan, are ignored by their homeland.
      And yet, they are the voice of western world.

      Since they don't say anything bad about Japan
      We don't hear any criticism from outside world.

      Japanese people believe only people who criticize us are either Korean or Chinese.

      We have some English site for foreigners in Japan.
      Even Dolphin and Wales hunt,
      there are full of western people attacking western world for cultural superiority.

      We are blind for the extent, getting really serious.
      So bear with me when I criticize Japan,
      somebody have to do it.

  •  real life similarity (3+ / 0-)

    I lived in Tokyo for thirty months.  A young and very beautiful Japanese woman for whom I had great affection that was never carnally consummated got engaged to be married about a year after I left the country.  Another woman who I didn't know well but held an infringement of etiquette against me tried to destroy my friend's engagement by badmouthing her reputation, accusing her of being a slut. Of course it was important that my friend be a virgin on her marriage bed.  A third friend conveyed the situation to me.  I wrote a letter attesting to the honor of my engaged friend.  I believe her honor was restored.  

    •  this is another misconceptin (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      against the westerners.
      I guess, it hasn't changed since GHQ era.

      Just being with foreigners qualified to be a slut.
      Because sexual relation are always implied

      Some strangers often swear at the women whom with westerners.
      "You must like bigger dxxx! "
      - which should more humiliating themselves than toward girls...

      anyway, that is what I'm saying about,
      There are full of prejudiced people, stereo typing all foreigners.

      Most common idea in Japan is
      "It's not the discrimination, it's just different."

      meaning, you cannnot live, work and play with us, because you are different.
      It's nothing personal, certainly not discrimination, you are just different.

      So not much you can do about,
      because to Japanese eyes, Westerners are more sexually and violently aggressive. And that is the fact.

      They even use that excuse at the international court.
      Do you know about Japanese child kidnapping?
      Japan is the haven for the child kidnapping.
      Many Japanese kidnapped the children after divorce, and never contact the kid's father again.

      International society has been trying to change that.
      And Japanese government official statement for that accusation is

      "Japanese need to be protected from violent westerners."

      believe or not, that honestly is the official defend

      I don't want to threaten you or anything,
      I'm sure your lady must be a fine person.
      but information never hurt, I think.

      •  I had a friend who did a year in Japan (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        for study abroad and he encountered that 'You are just different' mentality.

        Culture differences can be quite jarring but they can also be  quite positive. I want to thank you for posting these diaries. You are rapidly become a favorite author of mine. It's simply fascinating to get a glimpse inside Japanese culture.

        Der Weg ist das Ziel

        by duhban on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 09:34:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  There are places with signs (0+ / 0-)

        saying "Japanese only".  There are apartments that will not rent to gaijin.  Even having a Japanese passport is not enough; you have to look Japanese.

        This is not against the law.

        Partly this is a reaction against boorish American servicemen who do not speak Japanese and make no effort to learn local ways.

        •  and usually for the sex industry (0+ / 0-)

          since only Foreigners have HIV

          We had the big scandal about the HIV tainted blood transfusion.
          which blamed on American.
          (which is a lie, of course)

          I think American should know, what's going on in Japan.
          Since probably only country which can stop us.

  •  Very interesting diaries! Thanks! (3+ / 0-)

    Since 95% of what I know of Japanese culture I learned from anime, this helps to provide a bit more perspective.  :-)

    Article 196. Health care is a right of all persons and an obligation of the State, guaranteed through social and economic policies that provide...universal and equitable access to programs and services....

    by SLKRR on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 10:54:34 AM PST

  •  So interesting! (3+ / 0-)

    I think the Asian sensibility in general is very different from our own in matters of romance. So true -- we are expected to FIGHT for what we want. It is the romantic ideal --and, perhaps, the source of much suffering.

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 11:33:08 AM PST

    •  What we have to think about (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duhban, waterstreet2013


      That rule doesn't apply to all Japanese.

      Because most of Japanese refuse to fight what we want, since we already know we are not going to get it.

      But if nobody get anything,
      where all those good things go?

      To the privilege of course.

      There are no such thing,
      "Japanese Mind"
      We believe we do, or we are taught there are.
      So we believe all Japanese think the same way.
      and we are all equal.

      We can ignore the fact, most of us are cheated...

      Once again, US is the same way,
      but the extent of unfairness is different.

      •  Four truths: life is suffering, desire and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight

        fear cause most of it, happiness requires living one day at a time and not losing yourself to desires or fears, from there the 8-fold path leads to knowledge.

        Desire, itself, is not good. It is not to be trusted.

        In the West ??? A different world. The stuff of Miley Cyrus and Ted Cruz. (Phony sex and lies.)

        "I hesitate to agree with Ted Nugent...."

        by waterstreet2013 on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 05:56:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What strikes me about these stories (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lonely Texan

    is that they remind me of stories from western antiquity. The story of the vengeful ghost of the first wife calls to mind the tale of Medea, who not only killed the rival for her husband's affections but also murdered her own children to exact her revenge against Jason.

    The conflict between duty/honor and passion in the second two examples reminds me of the themes of the Iliad and the Aeneid. In the first Paris' violation of the rules of hospitality leads not only to his own destruction but that of his family and city/state. In the latter, Dido sacrifices everything to her passion for Aeneus who abandons her in the name of duty, knowing that the consequences will be fatal for her.

    The folktales of Europe are full of similarly grim meditations on the effect of human passions.

    It seems to me that the comparisons being made here are to the products of modern American mass popular culture rather than the broader and deeper stream of western culture per se.

    Not sure that such comparisons are apt.

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:43:36 PM PST

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