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The Beauty of Transience in Japanese entertainment?

 
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Sima Qian
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:58 am    Post subject: The Beauty of Transience in Japanese entertainment? Reply with quote
After a rough couple weeks in terms of scheduling and work, i decided to take a few days vacation and visit a few friends for some fun.

It was while hanging around that i was subjected to a concentrated overdose of Japanese pop culture via my friends' or in some cases their children.

And after recovering from that, i think i gained a small bit of enlightenment that i was hoping someone could elaborate on - namely the beauty of transience.

Its something i seemed to have completely ignored in my delvings into Japanese culture. But does anyone ever get the feeling that "fleeting moments" and "things that are passing" tend to be common themes that are romanticized in Japanese entertainment?

Random examples (i don't expect these to be representative of absolute proof but hey..)

Ex. Music - I think one of the most common phrases i've heard is "Ano hi" - like in "That Day"

"That Day" usually refers to something special - a Graduation Day (wherein its the last time the singer's seen their friends), or "That Day that day the sky was beautiful" (and everything was ok, but well your gone and dead...oh well)...etc.

Ex. JDorama - 'Nuff said i think. Pair it up against American Soap Operas plots (i think that's a good equivalent) and the contrast can be quite striking. And 9 out of 10 times, there's a reference to high school as a time when a character was surrounded happily by friends, etc.


Nostalgia seems, at least to me, held at such a high premium. What do you folks think?
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Ashigaru
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
There's a sentimental streak a mile long in Japanese culture. It's readily visible in all types of media, but if you really want to get beat over the head with it, check out the movies of Ozu Yasujiro.

I think it's a subset of the "mono no aware" ("the sadness of things") thread in Japanese art that's been present since around the Heian area.
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heron
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The "wistful melancholy" of Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto in modern fiction
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kitsuno
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ashigaru wrote:


I think it's a subset of the "mono no aware" ("the sadness of things") thread in Japanese art that's been present since around the Heian area.


Katori Shingo's recent drama "Bara no nai hanaya" played it to the absolute hilt.
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Oyakata
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:13 am    Post subject: Re: The Beauty of Transience in Japanese entertainment? Reply with quote
Sima Qian wrote:
.

Its something i seemed to have completely ignored in my delvings into Japanese culture. But does anyone ever get the feeling that "fleeting moments" and "things that are passing" tend to be common themes that are romanticized in Japanese entertainment?


Yes for sure the beauty - and sadness - of transience is a core esthetic value in Japanese culture. Someone else already named it - it's ものの哀れ. Up the street a few houses from 無常. Lives with his cousins 会者定離 and 一期一会. Across town from わび・さび.

The stereotypical way to represent this is the beauty of the cherry blossom. It's absolutely stunningly beautiful, but only around for a week each year - less if it rains or if it's windy. This esthetic of transience or 'ephemerality" is at the roots for why 花見 is the national pasttime of Japan.

Also represented in the famous song of Atsumori 敦盛の歌 http://www.odanobunaga.com/atsumori.gif

人間五十年
下天の内を比ぶれば
夢幻のごとくなり

It's a truly core esthetic, i would say. In that sense it doesn't usually take "discovering". It's a full on frontal assault at all times. It's also one of those navel-gazing things - the Japanese are so very aware of their own esthetics.

On the other hand "fleeting moments" are not the same as "nostalgia". The idea of "the Glory Days" or "the golden years" that you mention (be it high school or something else) isn't quite so archtypically Japanese as ものの哀れ. For me, nostalgia is slightly different from the beauty, sadness, and melancholy of transience.
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