SFU English 380: Mutilation and Foreign Relations in the Japanese Novel

A class blog for students of English 380 - "Literature in Translation" - at Simon Fraser University in Autumn 2005.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Ultra-Tradition - Sumo - & Blondes?

I introduced in lecture Tuesday, regarding the work of our present author Banana Yoshimoto, the nihonjinron group - an intellectual and literary movement which claims that Japanese people and culture are not just unique in relation to the world but "uniquely unique."
To help explain, I gave by way of analogy some examples of Japanese justifying their economic policy of protectionism in regard to international balance of trade: "Canadian beef cannot be digested by Japanese stomachs," for instance. An article in today's Washington Post, here, includes a wonderfully pertinent case of Japanese reacting to foreigners joining their Sumo wrestling leagues. Read the whole article, but one quotation is perfect:
But in a nation where outsiders are still regarded with unease, the stream of foreigners invading the most Japanese of sports -- and one whose rituals are strongly tied to the domestic Shinto religion -- has generated both controversy and backlash. Critics contend that the new European stars have longer arms and legs and allege that this gives them an unfair advantage. The huge growth in foreign-born pros led officials in 2002 to impose a limit of only one foreign wrestler per sumo stable. Some stables, all of which are permitted to be owned and operated only by Japanese citizens, maintain private policies barring foreigners.


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