Two Sides of the Sun Elizabeth Linares
Author’s Note Despite having no connection with Japan or any for of Japanese culture while growing up, I find that the Land of the Rising Sun has secured a firm foothold in my heart. I never had any great interest in Japanese “pop” culture in all my time in this relationship with Japan, I always delved into the study of Japan’s history, historical philosophies and this idea of extremes of humanity somehow living within a society. This concept, which has been well documented from the first European encounters with Japan, is perhaps best known through Ruth Benedict’s words from her 1946 work, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword. The Japanese are, to the highest degree, both aggressive and unaggressive, both militaristic and aesthetic, both insolent and polite, rigid and adaptable, submissive and resentful of being pushed around, loyal and treacherous, brave and timid, conservative and hospitable to new ways.
This love for that far away land where extremes exist within a balance continually calls me to do my own research and investigation. In this newest manifestation of this ever present interest, I’ve turn from my own interests and opinions to find out more about the opinions of fellow Japan enthusiast and club mates from the Ohio University Kendo Club and the Ohio University Japanese Association Nihon Buyo Club. I questioned them not only on their opinion on the dualism of Japan but on their own personal interactions with their respective traditional Japanese activities. I’ve also taken this opportunity to spend more time with more time with the people I’ve grown closest to over the past four years while studying this common interest. Of all the people and experiences I’ve encountered, my time with these people in these actives have given me more than any textbook could hope to give me and in turn I hope this work is something I can give them in return.
For those who have no prior knowledge of Japanese fencing called Kendo meaning, “way of the sword.” It is a martial art form that evolved from the the training and use of Japanese swords. The equipment used today is a far cry from the armor used by feudal Samurai but still carries the distinct characteristics expected from such origins. The Ohio University Kendo club started just under seven years and has continued to grow and compete. Nihon Buyo, Japanese traditional dance, is a style of dance specifically used for stage entertainment. The most famous form of Nihon Buyo is Kabuki Buyo, often equated with European opera. The club is relatively new, having started only two years ago. While small, the club maintains a dedicated group makes appearances at cultural functions such as the annual Cherry Blossom Festival and events during Ohio University’s International Week.
Ayumi Maetsjui, Ohio University Nihon Buyo club founder.
Kendo never disappointed me. Even when my body was exhausted, my soul has always told me â€˜one more time.â€™ I stood up again and attacked my teachers and colleagues. This kind of warrior spirit was what I expected and found from kendo. Jay Eungha Ryu, faculty advisor to Ohio University Kenod Club.
I joined kendo out of curiosity. I wanted to learn a martial art, and kendo was pointed out to me by a friend. Kendo opened a new world for me. There was far more to it than I had imagined. I was learning something new, both in physical practice and in culture. I quickly grew to love it as a sport and a martial art. I also made new friends, who shared many of my interests and ideas. Adric Shifley, Ohio University Kendo Club memeber.
Brittany Parsons, member of Ohio University Nihon Buyo Club.
In Benedict’s quote she is describing the Japanese as a living contradiction. This contradiction is present in the art of Kendo. Kendo as sport on paper sounds straight forward enough, hit designated targets on one’s opponent before they do. The thing is that the judging of the points is subject to the discretion of the judges. The judges are looking for elements that to a non-kendoka are unclear, elements like amount of spirit put into a strike or whether or not the sound of a strike is correct. The Japanese people to an outsider seem to be a contradiction but to an insider or at least someone a bit more familiar with Japanese culture don’t see this as a contradiction but just the way it is. Garrick Rosario, Ohio Univerisy Kendo Club member.
Laura Kay, Ohio University Nihon Buyo Club.
Jay Ryu and Alex DeLap, Ohio Univesity Kendo Club members. Ana Lutrell, Ohio University Nihon Buyo Club member.
Lolita Brannon, Ohio University Nihon Buyo Club member.
Tiy Oppurnt, Ohio University Nihon Buyo Club member.
Original Art Do to various republisings, it is not always possible for the producer of this work to provide titles of pieces or and artists’ names.
Last Stand of the Kusuniki Family Artist: Kuniyoshi 1857
Shibai kinmō zui Illustrated Encyclopedia of Theatre Artists: Utagawa Toyokuni and Katsukawa Shun’ei 1803
Nakamura Utaemon III (Shikan) as Ukiyo Mataehi and Nakamura Daichi I as his wife Otoku. Keisei hangonko at the Nakamura Theater Artist: Ashiyuki 1815
Arashi Kichisaburō II (Rikan) as Kaiya Zenkichi (right) and Kanō Minshi I as Oruko (Left) from the play Kamikakete chikai no tsuma-gushi. 1814 Yakusha gakuya tsū Connoisseur’s Guide to the Actors’ Green Rooms Illustrated Nakamura Noshio II (right) and Ichikawa Yaozō III (left). Artitst: Utagawa Toyokuni, Utagawa Kunimasa and Kitagawa Utamaro. 1799
Nakamura Utaemon III (Shikan I) as farmer Gosaku (really Ishigawa Goemon right) and Ichikawa Danūjurō VII (Hakuen as Saeda Masaemon (left) Play: Keisei setsugekka Artist: Shigeharu (right) and Hokushū 1830
Ichikawa Ebijūō (Shinshō) as Jūrō Sukenari (right), Arashi Kichisaburō II (Rikan, Kitsusaburō I) as Kudō Suketsune (center) and Nakamura Utaemon III (Shikan) as Gorō Tokimune (left). Artist: Yoshikuni Mid-1821
Nakamura Shikan II (Uetaemon IV) Artist: Kokuei 1834