Would Intelligence and Emotion Go Together?
English, Japanese Culture art, Chinese, Cool Japan, futon, Geisha, Heian period, japanese, japanese art, Japanese beauty, Japanese culture, Japanese customs, Japanese history, Japanese tradition, Kawaii, Maiko, makeup, ohaguro, Shironuri, Tale of Genji, Ukiyo-e
Sometimes emotions cannot live in peace with intelligence.
Imagine that you come upon a very beautiful guy and fall in love with him at first sight. You may be so happy just to be with him and you may think you want to be with him forever. But a single piece of information may destroy your happiness.
Let’s say, he is married… Or he is your actual brother who was separated when you were small… If only you had known it at the very moment when you met him for the first time, you would not have let yourself fallen in love with him. With that information you’ve got, it may become so hard to love him as you did before. Normally, while walking for example, people don’t carry a signboard on which the detailed personal information is written, so all you know is all the information caught by your eyes, nose and ears. A wedding ring could have been invented in order to avoid this kind of accident. Yet, no one has invented anything to avoid the accident with someone who is related by blood!
From the above, SNS or dating websites for which people register their own profile can be a great help. It can be defined as an ‘information-first-and-then-emotion system’ to avoid any vain attempts or fruitless emotional ups and downs. It may be an excellent wisdom to eliminate the waste of time which could be spent in vain too. But there is something that you cannot enjoy 100% if you are informed about it 100%. Sometimes it is more enjoyable to make up for the missing part with your imagination.
Do you know about The Tale of Genji? It is a love story written in the early 11th century in Heian period. The main character is Hikaru Genji, who is the son of an ancient Japanese Emperor but is removed from the line of succession, which means he has name, money and time. In fact, he dedicates his time to love affairs with hundreds of noble women.
The Tale of Genji is so popular among the Japanese and has been rewritten in modern language by several novelists, performed in many dramas, theatrical plays and films. Moreover, several comic strips have been made based on this story.
Before reading my analysis on Tale of Genji, please take a look at the search result of Google Images as I cannot put here, unfortunately, all the photos which can help you visualize the same image of Hikaru Genji that majority of the Japanese have.
OK? Here goes my analysis.
I found all the works regarding the Tale of Genji made in modern times had certain things in common determinately;
- Hikaru Genji is beautiful.
- The women are beautiful (several exceptions included).
- All the love affairs that Genji had are nothing but romantic.
Now, we have to go on to the second step, “Intelligence Stage” with the knowledge on history and culture. As Tale of Genji was written in Heian Period, we may have to get informed on the cultural background of 11th century in Japan.
How was the bed?
Our traditional Japanese bedding is Futon, consisting of a shikibuton (bottom mattress) and a kakebuton (thick quilted bedcover). But the Futon appeared in the Japanese culture after 16th century when cotton was imported from China. So Genji did not make love in Futon. According to the History of Futon, in the mid Heian Period, the flooring changed into a wooden floor from an earthen floor. Tatami mats were put on a wooden floor, when our tradition of taking off the shoes when we go inside the house started.
The bed room is quite romantic, covered with hanging cloth. But inside this sacred bed room, there was no bed, and as a coverlet the clothes (I mean Kimono) was used. So, it may have been little bit too firm but they made love on a Tatami mat. Those who know what Tatami is like should refrain from imagining that Genji had the Tatami scars on his face.
How was the sense of beauty and the makeup in Heian Period?
The sense of beauty varies time to time and place to place. So, we must not judge whose opinion is right. But I would like to share the woman who was considered beautiful in Nara Period which influenced the sense of beauty that people had in Heian Period.
I know it is very rude but I can’t help it… Here is a zoomed-up pic.
To know more about the beauty of Kichijo-ten, I would like to invite you to visit this very interesting Chinese site that I found!
As Heian period was long before Edison invented a light bulb, it was dark inside even in the houses of noblemen. Therefore, in order to make their faces noticeable they had to make them white. They used Oshiroi, the powder used for skin whitening. You may be reminded of famous geisha or maiko in Kyoto. Yes. The history of the Japanese culture of whitening the skin has started in this era.
There is still more to be worthy of special mention about makeup.
Eyebrows were pulled out or shaved off as they were not necessary for noble people. Eyebrows are to stop the sweat pouring into the eyes, thus being without eyebrows had the meaning to be someone who did not have to engage in physical labour.
Ideal eyebrows were;
- Drawn in higher position on the forehead to look mysterious.
- There should be much space between eyebrows to look noble.
- The both ends should be shaded off to look elegant.
Teeth should not have been shown… It doesn’t mean the people covered their mouth with a hand when laughing as we do now, but they dyed their teeth black.
Again. Zoomed up….
Teeth dyeing was mainly done on married women, though men of higher social status did it as well. In the late Heian period, not only girls but also boys who had shown secondary sex characteristics or who had attended coming-of-age practiced tooth blackening. Several reasons of these habits are considered but I think it was to emphasize the whiteness of the face or to prevent tooth decay. In fact, the custom of tooth blackening had been continued until the Meiji Government banned it in 1870, which is only about 150 years ago… Outside Japan, it is often considered as a bad custom to make the married women ugly. But I strongly disagree to this idea because the sense of beauty differs place to place and there is not a universally correct concept.
However, I strongly agree to the idea that we should not know the reality if we want to take more joy in reading. It would be definitely more enjoyable if we recreated the story in our own brain with imaginary Genji and imaginary princesses in imaginary castles. Moreover, I have one more dream breaking reality to inform you. In Heian Period, people washed their hair once a year even though they used to comb their hair every day with the water used for rice washing. With these circumstances, the culture of incense could have been well developed. Now I’ve found that not only knowledge but also the progress of civilization could ruin the emotions!
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