Friday, September 25, 2015

How the Japanese Contain their Emotions?

Small floral diorama of the Clock Tower in Sapporo, Hokkaido
Yesterday was my school's Sports Day or Undokai in Japanaese. It's my fourth time to attend but I'm still amazed by how the Japanese control their chaos. 

What do I mean with controlled chaos? 

It's like this. During the games and the cheering competition, the students are full of enthusiasm and noise. They'd be cheering ever so loudly and running around in circles. Then as soon as the games finished, everyone will be quiet, behave and disciplined. There was no cooling down of emotions nor fading out of voices. It's just like a rock music that ended abruptly. 

Even in the classroom, the students would be all attentive when I'm presenting the lesson. I learned not to expect any reactions, just attentiveness. Then, when I say it's "Game Time!", the room would suddenly erupt with cheers. The students would do the games or activities with surprising energy. As soon as I say, time's up, everybody would just quietly go to their seats with very few and very rare hushes. The shift of emotions is so distinct, it's worth thinking about why.

One of the best reasons I came across is from a report by Richard Lewis entitled "How Different Cultures Understand Time."   He wrote that Japanese treat time in clear segments. The Japanese is concerned with "how time is divided up in the interests of propriety, courtesy and tradition." This simply means, "doing the right thing at the right time." If it's lecture time, students should listen. If it's game time, students should all be participating. During the sports fest, students are all active when it's expected of them to be enthusiastic. And they are quiet when they are expected to be quiet. 

Lewis also mentioned the following examples: 

1. There are marked beginnings and endings in Japanese social gatherings such as weddings, parties and graduations. Literally, a person in authority would come up to announce "This celebration for this year is about to start or about to end." That signals the beginning and the end. Very very clear indeed. If you're an observer, you could see the sudden shift of emotions and beheviour of the people. 

2. In school, classes start and end with ritualistic greetings. Students are required to stand and greet the teacher to mark the beginning and ending of each class. 

3. He also mentioned the phase-switching rituals Japanese do during tea ceremony, New Year's routines, annual house cleaning, hanami, midsummer festivals and gift-giving routines. "

I'm supposing that because the Japanese treat time in clear segments, they also learned to segment their behavior and emotions distinctly. Thus, the controllled chaos. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...