Category Archives: Research

Presentation on April 5

I mentioned a while back that I am giving a presentation on Confucian Cardnial relationships, so I thought I’d give a few more details about the presentation. The event begins at 10:00 AM in the Social Sciences Building at UMSL. The event is University of Missouri – St. Louis’ annual “Japan on Campus” day. I will be presenting how ancient Confucian values are still very much alive as the underpinnings of Japanese society, albeit with a twist. Certain cardinal relationships have greater meaning than others, while values of on, giri, rei, and jin are undeniably persistent. We will be applying this knowledge to contemporary Shonen animation to drive the point home. It will be fun to examine the postmodern animation in the context of Confucian values! Welcome to Mechademia – anime examined from the academic perspective.

I mentioned this book before, but since I recently re-read it, I think you may truly enjoy it. T.R. Reid presents a very positive, engaging, and entertaining take on East Asian societies, particularly Japan, and theorizes how Confucian values help keep society together. This book was published in 1999 and is a bit dated, so many other social issues have come up since then that this book could not have addressed. But, the theory and basics are still correct for most of society. Thought this would be a nice contrast to Zielenziger’s Shutting Out The Sun, which, while having good facts, is also a Western perspective and a bit negative.

I am ordering a bunch of Japanese books from Amazon.co.jp shortly that are about Shakai-Mondai (Societal problems and issues) by Japanese and for Japanese readers. I want to see their take and contrast as well.

Confucius Lives Next Door:

What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living In The West

Confucian Cardinal Relationships

So I am doing another presentation soon – but this time it’s going in different directions from where I’ve taken it before. See, last summer I used T.R.Reid’s book Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living In The East Teaches Us About Living In The West to walk the class through the idea the Confucian morality and philosophy still has great underpinnings in Japanese society. The thing is, from a postmodern perspective (I know, there I go again) the relationships look a bit different. The husband-wife relationship looks vastly different from that of husband and wife in the West in certain instances. The father-son relationship as well. The friend – friend and elder sibling-younger sibling have a huge impact on today’s younger generation, and the ruler-ruled? Well, the ruler tends to be the group that X-san or Y-san belong to. Not much attention is paid to the political leadership on day-to-day things. I’ll never forget my host family’s mother in 1994 saying that she really didn’t follow what was going on in the government, and that the emperor didn’t matter much to anyone anymore. This was so different from what we were led to believe from our global studies textbooks.