Friday, July 8, 2011

Novel Japanese Americans

It seems that I am reading a number of novels retelling the stories of Japanese Americans. First, I read Juliet Kono's book, Anshu. Then I followed it up with John Hamamura's book, Color of the Sea. Yesterday on our Costco run, I found a book by Gail Tsuchiyama, Street of a Thousand Blossoms.

Although I have just started Tsuchiyama's novel, what I have observed about the Japanese is their willingness to sacrifice for the better good of the family. To suffer and to make the best of the situation. The sense of duty seems to obliterate the lighthearted sense of frivolity and joy. Instead, joy is experienced in quiet and subtle way. The way a petal from a cherry blossom floats to the ground.

Unlike the Koreans in the Korean soap operas, one rarely sees Japanese in literature express themselves is loud ranting and raging. Hide your suffering behind a stoic face. To make a scene means to lose face, to show weakness.

Watching old samurai movies will acquaint the audience with the solemn nodding of the head and the watchful eyes that speak volumes. "You are dearly loved. You are forgiven. I understand." Only in the fight scenes do we see emotion and energy released through the kyat...the sound that comes from the core of the stomache filled with ki or energy. "You are an evil enemy. You will die. Kyaaaaaaaaaaa!"

I am waiting to read more books about modern Japanese Americans. Have they changed their core values? Have their modes of expression changed? Has Americanization whitewashed their cultural selves? While I would like to see more joy in the families, I also don't want to lose the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good or to suffer through gaman (patience and endurance). These attributes are the backbone of the culture.

No comments:

Post a Comment