Red Japanese Samurai

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THE MAKING OF THE JAPANESE: The Role of Kata in Japanese Life

Many foreigners are familiar with the Japanese term kata (kah-tah) from its use in the martial arts, where it describes the forms or processes used in training. But kata are far more important to understanding and dealing with the Japanese than this martial arts connection implies.      The whole of Japan’s traditional culture, from personal etiquette to how one learned to do all of the routine things in life, were based on precise kata —on precisely prescribed ways of doing them.      There was a way of eating (tabe-kata), a way of walking (aruki-kata), a way of thinking (kangae-kata), a way of reading (yomi-kata), a way of writing (kaki-kata), a way of talking (hanashi-kata), a way of doing things in general (yari-kata), and so on across the entire spectrum of Japanese behavior.      In earlier times the interjection of personal preference or deviation for any reason from these prescribed kata was both immoral and unethical from the viewpoint of Japanese culture. Failure to follow the prescribed kata invariably had an immediate and sometimes fatal effect.      Failure to bow properly to a samurai warrior, for example, could get one shortened by a head. There was a shogunate edict which said that a samurai could kill anyone on the spot who failed to follow the prescribed forms of behavior. [This edict was known as kirisute-gomen! (kee-ree-suu-tay go-mane), literally “kill-by your leave,” or “kill-pardon me.” In effect in meant to kill, say “excuse me” and walk away.]      This prescribed and enforced conformity to exact ways of doing things had a profound influence on the character and personality of the Japanese, making them homogenous to an extraordinary degree as well as predictable, because everybody was taught and trained to think and do things the same way.      The kata concept in the arts and crafts was also responsible for the remarkable manual skills that have long been typical of the Japanese, for their ability to focus on things with great intensity, and their compulsion to “get things right.”      I became acutely aware of the presence and role of kata in Japanese culture in the 1950s and began to write about it but it was not until 1990 that I put the whole thing together in a book first published as THE KATA FACTOR – Japan’s Secret Weapon.      Shortly after the book came out in a Japanese edition I was asked to address an assembly of some 400 Japanese businesspeople and scholars. I was astounded to learn that the Japanese themselves had never looked at or discussed the role of individual kata in their culture.      They were so kata-ized in their thinking and behavior that the idea of analyzing their behavior with individual kata as the starting point had apparently not occurred to anyone.      They were, however, acutely aware of the effect that kata had on their thinking and behavior, and continuously pointed to the fact that they had one of the world’s most homogenized culture. But they did not attribute this specifically to the overall effect of kata.      In the large group I addressed only one individual took exception to my explanation of the Japanese way of thinking and doing things. This grey-haired distinguished gentleman stood up and said:      “Everything Mr. De Mente said about Japanese culture is wrong!  The essence of Japanese character and behavior is derived from Shintō!  He does not mention Shintō at all!”      I knew instantly that the gentleman [who turned out to be Japan’s premiere Shintō authority] had not read the book thoroughly because I did bring out the role and importance of Shintō in Japanese culture.      Still today no one can fully understand and appreciate the typical attitudes and behavior of the Japanese without knowledge of the kata that created their mindset and continues to control their behavior to a remarkable degree.      While the legal and social sanctions against ignoring traditional kata are no longer life-threatening, they are nevertheless severe in modern terms.      In business and all other professional relationships failure to follow the traditionally prescribed behavior can have all kinds of repercussions, from an employee not being promoted, or being sent to a workplace in the boonies, to relationships being terminated.      In the meantime, I have updated the book and it has been republished as KATA – The Key to Understanding & Dealing with the Japanese [Tuttle Publishing]. Copyright © 2009 by Boyé Lafayette De Mente ______________________________________ Boyé Lafayette De Mente is a graduate of Jōchi University in Tokyo and Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona. He is the author of more than 50 books on the business practices, cultures and languages of China, Japan, Korea and Mexico. For a list and synopses of his books go to: www.boyedemente.com .

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41 Kagemusha Hand Forged Damascus Blade Samurai Sword with Burgundy Scabbard
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40 Katana Sword RED Dragon Carbon Steel w Stand Collectible Samurai Ninja
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40 Red Dragon SAMURAI NINJA Bushido KATANA Japanese Sword Carbon Steel Blade
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Black Rayskin Wood Handle Tsuka Red Cord For Japanese Katana Samurai Sword 26cm
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Full Tang Japanese Samurai Wakizashi Sword Red Damascus Steel Iron Tsuba Sharp
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40 RED Katana Sword YIN YANG Dragon Carbon Steel Samurai Ninja w Stand
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Japanese samurai sword katana knives high quality red silk bag
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41 1095 HIGH CARBON STEEL RED JAPANESE SAMURAI SWORD KATANA VERY SHARP
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2 layer welding Red Copper Habaki Collar For Japanese Samurai Sword Katana
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FULL TANG Japanese Samurai Sword KATANA Damascus BlackRed Steel BATTLE READY
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Full Tang BlackRed DAMASCUS Katana Japanese Samurai Sharp Blade Sword HANDMADE
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Handmade Japanese Samurai Katana Sword Damascus Steel BlackRed Blade Very Sharp
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hand forged red damascus Katana japanese samurai real sword no shake fitted
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Collected wearable Japanese Rstung Samurai Armor Suit Black Red H05
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Black red Shiny Lacquered Wooden Saya Sheath For Japanese Samurai Katana Sword
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Purplish red saya Japanese Samurai Katana red rayskin sharp sword can cut bamboo
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Hand Forge Japanese Samurai Sword Red Folded Steel Blade Katana Full Tang Swords
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