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View Poll Results: Do you find the claim that the Japanese like/love nature more than others justified ?

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  • Yes, they care much more about nature, animals and the environment than the rest of the world

    2 7.69%
  • They care a lot by international standards, but less than the Western average

    2 7.69%
  • Why would they care more than others ?

    10 38.46%
  • They care a lot about seasons and cherry blossoms but kill whales and destroy their environment

    6 23.08%
  • No, the Japanese care less about the environment and animals protection than average

    2 7.69%
  • I think it is impossible to compare because there is no national trend anywhere

    4 15.38%
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Thread: Do the Japanese really love nature more than all other people ?

  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaijinalways View Post
    Okay, Mike and others, you have shown a good justification in some cases for concrete retaining walls to avert mudslides and floods.
    But what about the bus terminal next to the idyllic river in the Kamikochi national park? Unfortunately, as Maciamo has hinted at, this is far too common. The Japanese have decided that access to 'natural' areas is preferable to areas becoming staying more natural.
    I don't think anyone is denying the fact that concrete is used in natural surroundings like that. But what is the sticky issue is as to whether that necessarily means that Japanese do not appreciate nature as much as Europeans do. Which is what the original proposition was that led to the concrete-in-the-river discussion.

  2. #52
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leonmarino View Post
    Your theory totally ignores the dynamism a country, its people and its language is subject to. Europeans has had many centuries more experience with cattle. Hence, we have more words that describe these mammals. The Japanese however, to give an very obvious example, having more experience with rice, have two words for rice: 米 and ご飯, uncooked and cooked rice respectively. The Inuit, as Sabro pointed out, are said to have many words describing snow and the states their in (icy, powdery etc.) In other words, the environment has shaped the vocabulary.
    What a whole lot of bullsh.. Do we have another, non-conjured word for that? Absolutely irrelevant. As I explained above most of these animals are native to Japan. You make it sound like Japan was a pre-agricultural and pre-domestication society before the 20th century. That is outrageous. The Japanese have been raising cattle (and using them for agriculture and cart drawing), riding and breeding horses, hunting deer or boars, or raising chickens for about 2000 years. I can give concessions for sheep and goats, but not for the others. The English language didn't exist in a form roughly intelligible to today's speakers until the 16th or 17th century. Are you arguing that the Japanese could not have invented new words over 2000 years ? This is preposterous and insult the intelligence of the Japanese. As I explained above (again; please read before posting) Japanese language has created thousands of new words to cope with the new scientific and political concepts imported from the West during Meiji, and thousands more words from European languages. There is no excuse for no having separate unique words for a rooster and a hen, or a cow and a bull.

    Speaking of care, the Japanese have two words for love: 愛 and 恋. Does that make us non-Japanese people insensitive bastards? Maybe some of us are, but I would like to argue that I am not, although the Dutch, like the English have only one word for love.
    Stop displaying your ignorance. You are a disgrace to the Dutch people (EDIT : didn't notice until now that you were half-Japanese). There are many words equivalent to 愛 and 恋 in English : affection, fondness, passion, liking, yearning, adoration, craving, crush, infatuation... These are just for nouns. You can naturally adapt them into verbs, saying "I adore you", "I am fond of you", "I have a crush for you", "I crave for you", etc. As for equivalents of 愛人 or 恋人, there are even more terms : lover, boy/girlfriend, darling, honey, sweetheart, beau, mistress, date, gallant, suitor, wooer, and more. Even the Japanese have come to use darling, honey, sweetheart or boy/girlfriend frequently (just listen to J-pop) because they didn't have enough words for that.

    On a more fundamental level, I think it is pretty ignorant to rate one people's attitude towards animals on the basis of its vocabulary. I might memorize all the names of all animals in the world, and even create new words for it, and still be a meat-eating, animal-abusing, pet-hating.. Linguist.
    And you are the one telling me about ignorance ? If only you tried to understand what I meant (I know it's difficult for some to use their cerebral organ). The extend of vocabulary of a language reflects the care given to some particular things in the environment of that society (continuously through the ages I should say, not just right now), not individual people. That is so obvious to me that I didn't feel the need to explain it. You, Sabro and others intuitively know that as you have given yourself examples of the Inuits having many words for snow, proving my point that they attached a greater importance to it than most other societies. Now it is not because someone has memorised all the words for snow in the Inuit language that they necessarily give a shi't about snow (as you explained so well yourself). But it does tell us about Inuit society's sensitivity about snow all the way through its evolution to this day. So how comes that Japan, which was as much exposed to horses, chickens, foxes or deer than Europeans (we could even argue that some Mediterranean regions don't have as many foxes and deer as Japan), did not develop what we consider to be fundamental differences ? Why don't they even have words to describe the cries of these animals ? Isn't that an undeniable proof that they just didn't care ? I am pretty sure that many Europeans do not care too (you maybe ?), but at least there were enough people that cared to make these words, and continued to care to keep these words alive up to this day.

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  3. #53
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaijinalways View Post
    Okay, Mike and others, you have shown a good justification in some cases for concrete retaining walls to avert mudslides and floods.
    But what about the bus terminal next to the idyllic river in the Kamikochi national park? Unfortunately, as Maciamo has hinted at, this is far too common. The Japanese have decided that access to 'natural' areas is preferable to areas becoming staying more natural.
    What about the vast areas of mountainous Japan into which, as far as is known to modern Japan, no man has ever set foot? What about the hiker in Hokkaido whose bones were found only years after he was lost, since not only do people not go where he went, but planes almost never fly over at such an altitude to spot the huge SOS he had made on the ground prior to his demise?

    Japan can be a land of extremes.

    As to the garbage issue, in the cities, Japan cities are hands down one of the cleanest I have seen.
    I take it you've never been down to the piers....

    But in the countryside, no. Seen plenty of illegal garbage dumps interspaced here and there. Saitama and Gunma are literally vast dumping grounds (never mind the radioactive jokes about Ibaraki)!
    As a longtime resident of Gunma, I have to take exception to that hyperbole.

  4. #54
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by craftsman View Post
    I don't think anyone is denying the fact that concrete is used in natural surroundings like that. But what is the sticky issue is as to whether that necessarily means that Japanese do not appreciate nature as much as Europeans do. Which is what the original proposition was that led to the concrete-in-the-river discussion.
    How can you possibly love nature when you do not respect it ? Or maybe we have different sensibilities about 'respect of nature'. I will never accept that concrete eyesores be built in a beautiful natural surrounding, as is so common in Japan. When I mentioned that to Japanese people (e.g. businessmen), the typical answered I got was "We Japanese have a selective vision; we can focus on the beautiful and make abstraction of the rest" (or something to that effect). Such a poor excuse, if you want my opinion...
    Quote Originally Posted by undrentide View Post
    If we say 女の牛 or 男の牛, that would sound very childish, if not primitive.
    But as to 牡牛 and 牝牛, we do not use 牡 or 牝 individually as an adjective. Each of them is one word, different from オスの牛 and メスの牛.
    女の牛 and 男の牛 would be "madame cow" and "mister cow" in English (or a "man cow" and "woman cow"). English is not the easiest language to explain this because "male" and "female" are also used for humans. But in French "mâle and "femelle" are used only for animals, just like "osu" and "mesu" in Japanese. As a French speaker I can only see it as childish.

    And putting 牡 or 牝 to show the gender is not unlike the word you listed as examples:
    chien - chienne
    perro - perra
    cane - cagna
    Each pair shares the same 'word stem'.
    chien - chienne may share the same stem, and in this regard it is less "evolved" than the English version. But it is not the same as saying "chien mâle" and "chien femelle", like the Japanese "osu inu" and "me(su) inu". "onna no inu" and "otoko no inu" would be "monsieur chien" (or "chien garcon") and "madame chien" (or "chien fille") in very childish French. So, whereas 雌犬 is just childish for me, 女の犬 is very childish. Chien/chienne is a normal gender differentiation without the use of an adjective, while "dog/b'tch" is more evolved because of the completely different words. But let us not forget about the young (e.g. puppy), which in Japanese is just 子犬 ("little/young dog"), while a small-size dog would be 小さな犬.

    I think having many words on a some specific things may indicate that the language (and maybe its people) have more interest in that aspect. But I don't think this "theory" works in the other way round. I don't think having less words about something does not necessarily mean that that particular thing has less importance or interests.
    Why not ? Why one way but not the other. It is actually nonsensical to say that a language that has a more specialised or varied vocabulary for something indicate a greater interest/concern, but that a language that has less specialised or varied vocabulary does not indicate a lesser interest/concern. When you compare two languages, if one has more words of a type (=greater interest), then forcedly the other has less words of that type (=lesser interest). When you comapre two things, if one is darker, forcedly the other is lighter.

    Perhaps the fox (kitsune) you mentioned is a good example. Having not many vocabulary does not mean it is not common or has small importance in Japanese culture.
    Yes it does. The Japanese thought until not long ago (and maybe so people still do) that foxes had magical power and could steal your spirit by entering under your fingernails (or something like that). This is a clear evidence of lack of scientific research about foxes. Foxes were seen as distant animals which the Japanese didn't understand well, hence the widespread fears and superstitions about them. It seems pretty obvious that a culture that lacks a scientific approach to nature (stimulated by a deep interest and desire of understanding) will have less chances to develop specific vocabulary about animal biology.

    So maybe it is not that the Japanese like nature less, but that they have feared nature more for centuries. Isn't it what Shinto is all about ? Fearing the spirits of the forest and nature in general ? Isn't why the Japanese have built houses very near from each others to seek mutual protection ? Isn't why, even in central Tokyo, people build walls around their house (like in Bali) or build shrines to prevent evil spirits from entering ? Isn't why the Japanese government has tried as much as it could to master the destructive forces of nature by cutting down forest (and replacing them by sugi), builing roads in the middle of mountains where nobody lives, and walls of concrete everywhere possible to find a sense of comfort that nature will not "attack" the people ? There isn't such an approach to nature in Western countries. On the contrary, people build houses in the middle of fields and forests, far from other people, in order to enjoy nature. There isn't this duality of fear-respect of nature omnipresent in Japan.

    Maybe it is part of a deeper aspect of Japanese culture yet, the relation of fear-respect in general toward authority, the elderly, etc. It seems that nature is no exception to it, while for Europeans nature is the opposite of human society. We call it "Mother Nature", as if it cradled and nourished us, rather than attempt to destroy us. Having greenery is a mean of relaxation, which is why so many people have gardens in their houses (no t isn't because land prices are cheaper, even Londoner have gardens, with landprices about 2 or 3x higher than in central Tokyo). And we do not need shrines to give offerings to the kami to appease their wrath. The only animals that people have historically been afraid of are animals that were actually dangerous to humans, like wolves (not cute little foxes ). Even bears were domesticated by street entertainers since ancient times.

    Maybe it is Indo-European cultures have a quite different relation to nature compared to East Asians. Eventhough cattle or buffalos have been domesticated for thousands of years all over Eurasia, East Asians have been reluctant to drink cow milk (and even more goat or sheep milk !) and dairy products up to this day (it is changing though). Many older Japanese people still do not drink milk or eat cheese. The Hindus see cows as sacred because they have provided us with their milk, like mothers, since the dawn of civilisations. The Indians (at least the Hindus and Jains) have been some of the most nature loving people on earth for centuries. Nowadays I would say that Europeans have overtaken them (only recently) because governments and people alike care more about environmental protection than in India. India has been overtaken by the industralisation and hasn't managed to adapt yet. Japan is a post-industrial country, like Western Europe, but there seem to be no will to really respect and protect nature.

    In Japan, nature has to be controlled and made to serve humans. Recyclying is only for humans, for economic reasons... People (in the country) still fear the kami and give offerings in shrines. Many people, I noticed, still believe in ghosts and spirits ! They don't see any problem with hiking along a crowded well asphalted road with signs, vending machines and shops/restaurants everywhere, for the sake of convenience, and have the nerves to call that a walk in nature ! Nature, for me, is a place far from human civilisations, far from buildings, asphalted roads and other people, where we can listen to the birds, observe animals in their habitat in all quiteness... In Japan I found that enjoying nature meant more things like going to an aquarium, take a guided tour around a small island with vending machines everywhere, or sit on a crowded beach where even seagulls are scarce. When they want something really wild, they go to Hokkaido...
    Last edited by Maciamo; Nov 16, 2006 at 19:31. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  5. #55
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro View Post
    I'm not certain that having differing names for males and females and the young of a species makes them more "childish and primitive" either. It would seem to be a jump in logic to make such an assumption.
    Children use more simple vocabulary than adults, hence saying "female deer" because they don't know the proper word (doe) does sounds more childish. If the Japanese constantly say "male/female something" instead of having a special word for it, it consequently sounds more childish for speakers of a language which has those special words. Considered as a "society's language" (as oppose to individual knowledge of a language), the absence of such words make this language look primitive compared to other languages with more words.
    I also don't know if it follows that vegetarians care more about nature than other humans.
    It depends what is the reason for vegetarianism. If it is just because you don't like meat or think it is not good for health, then not necessarily. But almost all the vergetarians I know are vegetarian because they do not want to kill animals. Strict Hindus and Jains are vegetarian because their religion tells them not to kill any animal. True Jains go so far as to watch their steps in order not to crush an insect, and wear a mask in front of their mouth to be sure not to swallow a mosquito. They also prohibit anything made of leather or other products made from dead animals. You cannot enter a Jaina temple with a leather belt, wallet or shoes. Doesn't that show a greater respect for nature ? Isn't that intricately linked to their vegetarianism ? (for the record, I am not a vegetarian)
    Last edited by Maciamo; Nov 16, 2006 at 19:23. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  6. #56
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikawa Ossan View Post
    I have always though that words like "centipede" and "octopus" were very childish English words. Not to mention "millipede". I guess English doesn't care enough about animals with more than 4 feet.
    I understand you claim about the centipede (which does not necesaarily have 100 legs), but octopuses do have 8 legs. Nevertheless, there are thousands of species of centipedes/millipedes, with a total number of legs varying between 80 and 400 legs for common species (up to 200 for centipedes), so in some cases the term centipede can actually be correct. I suppose it is for the sake of convenience that we have not given different names to each species according to their exact number of legs !

  7. #57
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    Sorry Mike, maybe you just got used to it (the garbage I mean)! I guess you missed the Oze garbage debacle recently in the news.

    No, I am generally saying that compared to other cities I have visited, Japanese cities are relatively clean. Of course I have visited the harbor, with the 'black' sand tanning beaches (worth it for some of the Japanese cuties wearing bikinis).

    Good points on bringing up Hokkaido, but that is a relatively small area as a part of the total of Japan (1 of 47 prefectures, and certainly no Alaska). I know of an area in Hokkaido where some missionaries lived; the roads were listed as impassable in the winter, hence I didn't go there when I visited in Jan. of 1995 (before I came to live in Japan).

  8. #58
    Banned sabro's Avatar
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    So, in my own defense, I asked if the Inuit had a dozen words for snow. I never pretended to know the answer... and the point was actually about some assumption of linguistics. I believe that Maciamo is wrong to draw conclusion about how much a culture cares about nature based upon his linguistic interpretation. It doesn't mean that he is wrong about whether or not the Japanese care about nature, just that the linguistic angle makes little sense and I have not heard it being used to determine such cultural values any where else. If he is correct however, cultural linguists could write some interesting stuff about what cultures value based upon word count.

    I get called ignorant. But responding will most certainly cause me more infraction points. I see insults and evasions and a thread that is off topic... but again, mentioning it will probably earn me consequences.

    Perhaps the question is phrased a bit too simply and the way the Japanese conceptualize nature and how they express appriciation is different in the cultural context.

  9. #59
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaijinalways View Post
    Sorry Mike, maybe you just got used to it (the garbage I mean)! I guess you missed the Oze garbage debacle recently in the news.
    I don't watch the news. I don't need to see the news to know that Gunma, while it has illegal dumping spots like any other place, is not a vast dumping ground. I live here.

    No, I am generally saying that compared to other cities I have visited, Japanese cities are relatively clean. Of course I have visited the harbor, with the 'black' sand tanning beaches (worth it for some of the Japanese cuties wearing bikinis).
    I wasn't talking about the beaches. I was talking about all the roadside trash down at the docks.

    Good points on bringing up Hokkaido, but that is a relatively small area as a part of the total of Japan (1 of 47 prefectures, and certainly no Alaska). I know of an area in Hokkaido where some missionaries lived; the roads were listed as impassable in the winter, hence I didn't go there when I visited in Jan. of 1995 (before I came to live in Japan).
    One doesn't have to go to Hokkaido to find places where no man has ever set foot. Nagano will do nicely.

  10. #60
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro View Post
    So, in my own defense, I asked if the Inuit had a dozen words for snow. I never pretended to know the answer... and the point was actually about some assumption of linguistics. I believe that Maciamo is wrong to draw conclusion about how much a culture cares about nature based upon his linguistic interpretation.
    I explained that if it wasn't because of a lack of care and observation, it was probably because of a lack of scientific-mindedness. Another possibility might just be that the Japanese do not care about details in general, thus oddly omitting to invent words not only to differentiate gender in animals, but also give names to their young (only a few exceptions, like ひよこ for "chick") and names for their cries (also a few exceptions, like 吠える and 鳴く).

    The absence of gender for animal names is only one of the numerous arguments that make me think that the Japanese society has cared less about animals and nature in general in the past and/or present (depending on the argument). Let me remind you of a few others mentioned so far :

    - absence of an elected Green Party (could also be said of the USA and a few European countries)

    - proportionally fewer members of WWF and Greenpeace, and fewer major organisations for nature protection (they do exist, but are nowhere as influential as in Western countries)

    - government-sponsored destruction of nature, relative lack of biodiversity in man-made nature (e.g. in parks), and especially disfiguration of the natural scenery through the unrestrained construction of (usually pretty useless) concrete eyesores nationwide.

    - abundance of illegal dumping sites, fairly frequent radioctive leaks from nuclear plants, numerous dioxin emitting incinerators (illegal in most of Europe)... Let's also remember the Minamata disease, Itai-itai disease, Yokkaichi Asthma, Sugi allergy and other diseases or public health issues caused by careless industrial or personal waste dumping or poor government policies.

    - "enjoying nature" in Japan typically involves crowded asphalted paths with vending machines, shops, signs and advertisments all along the journey.

    - Japan is the only major country with a whaling policy, which it strongly defends against the will of the international community (going as far as buying votes from developing countries).

    - virtual absence of vegetarianism in modern Japanese society, despite an ever growing trend in this sense in Western countries (esp. by animal lovers).

    - Impressively small mumber of zoological or botanic gardens in Japan (Belgium does better, despite being 13x smaller)

    - Huge national consumption of single-use wooden chopsticks causing reckless deforestation in many developing countries, when plastic chopsticks could be used instead.

    - Fear-induced respect of nature inherited from Shintoism, still well alive today, and probably part of the reason why the Japanese feel they have to protect themselves so much from their natural environment by damming rivers, placing concrete tripods all along the coast, or replacing diversified forest by sugi forest...


    Language is only a detail in all this, but a detail that goes in the same direction as the rest, that of a general lack of care, respect or understanding of nature.

    I get called ignorant. But responding will most certainly cause me more infraction points. I see insults and evasions and a thread that is off topic... but again, mentioning it will probably earn me consequences.
    I do not recall calling you "ignorant" in this regard. As for infractions, I have never given any for disagreeing with me, only for breaking the rules (e.g. posting specific offtopic comments when it is against noth forum rules and that thread's rules), or not wanting to comply with moderation request (only happened to 1 person so far) or free and unprovoked personal insults (as happened to you once).

  11. #61
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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  12. #62
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    I stumbled onto an article in the UNESCO environment centre just up the road and thought it might be interesting to relay it.


    In Jan 2005 a conference was held about NGOs and civil society organized by United Nations University and the Delegation of the European Commission in Japan. In the conference Wilhelm Vosse, assistant professor of social science at International Christian University, gave a speech and cited several opinion polls showing that and I quote


    "public concern in Japan about environmental destruction is much higher than in Europe".


    He also said that this did not result in a Green Party-type ecological political party because Japan's environmental movement was fragmented and underfunded and not powerful enough to affect national policy. He cited strict Government qualifications for tax exemptions on donations as one of the main problems in funding.


    With 336 state-accredited environmental groups and growing all the time, it is not the fact that Japanese don't care about their environment, in fact if we believe Mr.Vosse they care a whole lot more than Europeans, but that the bureaucratic state has prevented them, in the form of grass roots organisations from making any impact.

  13. #63
    puzzled gaijin
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    Sabro posted
    Perhaps the question is phrased a bit too simply and the way the Japanese conceptualize nature and how they express appriciation is different in the cultural context.
    I agree with this statement Sabro, though I do wish to add that I don't consider 'artificial' gardens as 'better' natural gardens. I think most people wouldn't consider GM food as 'better' natural food either, yes?

    Uh, Mike, so most of your news comes from this forum?
    Seriously, Nagano is not that unexplored, except where the bears are running around!

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    People saying their opinions like "Japanese still have fear-induced respect of nature" tend to trumpet their opinions "people unfortunately forget fear of nature" at the time of terrible disasters.

    The BBC's Chris Hogg in Tokyo says in the past tsunamis have caused extensive damage in Japan but they were of a far greater magnitude than is being predicted.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6150538.stm?ls
    Don't know if it was his arrogrance or ignorance of nature, but the 8.1 magnitude earthquake was a terrible earthquake.

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    What exactly was the reason for your new title of my old thread, Maciamo? It is a very strange angle to take and was never reflective of the discussion in my original thread nor has anyone since suggested that Japanese love nature more than the rest of the world. My only argument, even after citing the earlier polls comparing Europeans and Japanese, was and is that Japanese are really no different from any other country including the countries in Europe.

    If you change the title to a thread and add a poll in the middle of the discussion, it can change how people see what was said before. The posts that come before the split was made in my thread were, as you know, not under the title of 'Do the Japanese really love nature more than others?' but under 'What do you like about Japan and Japanese People' and specifically in defence of your premise that Europeans love nature more than Japanese and that there is no real nature in Japan when compared to Europe.

    If you take them out of the context they were written in and put them in a brand new context, (which I have no problem with incidentally - you can do as you wish) it would be handy to have a little further explanation on your part.

    I was just wondering why you didn't call it 'Do Europeans love nature more than Japanese?' or 'Are the Japanese really nature lovers?'

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Compared to British and French channels, the main Japanese TV channels have very few documentaries about animals and nature. I don't need to introduce the BBC in the matter. But I suppose that most of JREF's members are not well acquainted with French-speaking TV, so I will list a few famous programmes NB : TF1 if the most popular French channel, France 3 is the 3rd most popular French chanel, and RTBF is the Belgian equivalent of the BBC)

    - Ushuaia (originally a TV programmes on TF1, running since 1987, that has become its own channel in 2005 through its success; there is also a magazine version)
    - Thalassa (weekly TV documentary reporting on Nautical, Maritime and Oceanic matters on France 3 since 1975)
    - 30 millions d'amis (TV documentary running on TF1 since 1976; it is also a foundation for the protection of animals and a magazine)
    - Le Jardin Extraordinaire (Belgian TV documentary about nature broadcasted since 1971, and the first colour Tv programme broadcasted in Belgium)
    - Commandant Cousteau (the man made numerous films and TV documentaries, and the Cousteau Society continues to promote his work)

    There are many others but these are the most famous, longest running, and showed on the biggest channels and the best hours.

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by craftsman View Post
    What exactly was the reason for your new title of my old thread, Maciamo? It is a very strange angle to take and was never reflective of the discussion in my original thread nor has anyone since suggested that Japanese love nature more than the rest of the world.
    Your poll in your original thread included an option "A love of nature and nature-like artificial stuff". When I disagreed with that, you replied :
    Quote Originally Posted by craftsman
    Now I read lots of your posts about nature and I still don't get it. Do you mean the love of nature or the nature itself? As far as I am aware people still love nature as much as they always did, even if because urban areas have grown it may not be immediately around them any more.
    I didn't mean nature, but the love of nature. Japan has some great nature, but too much of it has been spoilt by careless government policies.

    I wanted a thread where I could discuss whether the Japanese really loved nature more than others (and not just Europeans) because I have read in books about Japan and heard from the mouth of many Japanese that they (the Japanese) think that their love of nature surpass anything in the world, or at least in the West, because of their long tradition of Shintoism which put emphasises the relation with nature, and their love of the seasons, chery blossoms, etc. Some Japanese have even told me that Art Nouveau (an artistic style inspired by nature) was part of the Japonism movement because Europeans didn't care about nature before coming into contact with the Japanese !! It is true that some Art Nouveau got its inspiration from Japanese art, but saying that the love of nature is originally a Japanese thing is going too far. Ancient Greeks and Romans already used nature fervently in art.

    If you change the title to a thread and add a poll in the middle of the discussion, it can change how people see what was said before.
    That is why I added a link to your original thread at the top.

    The posts that come before the split was made in my thread were, as you know, not under the title of 'Do the Japanese really love nature more than others?' but under 'What do you like about Japan and Japanese People' and specifically in defence of your premise that Europeans love nature more than Japanese and that there is no real nature in Japan when compared to Europe.
    I have never said that there is no real nature in Japan when compared to Europe.

    I was just wondering why you didn't call it 'Do Europeans love nature more than Japanese?' or 'Are the Japanese really nature lovers?'
    Because what interests me here is whether our members think (through Japanese propaganda, for instance) that the Japanese indeed love nature more than all people in the world (not just Europeans). Asking 'Are the Japanese really nature lovers?' is not suitable either because we need to compare it to other countries to be meaningful. Ask any similar question about any country and the answer can be either "yes" or "no" depending on what you compare it too. E.g. 'Are the Japanese big meat eaters?' => well it depends which country you compare them to... At least by asking whether they love nature more than everybody else (as I heard in Japan), the answer can be more clear-cut, as a single example of a more nature loving country suffice to say "no". So as not to make the poll too boring I diversified a bit the options.

    Quote Originally Posted by pipokun View Post
    People saying their opinions like "Japanese still have fear-induced respect of nature" tend to trumpet their opinions "people unfortunately forget fear of nature" at the time of terrible disasters.
    Don't know if it was his arrogrance or ignorance of nature, but the 8.1 magnitude earthquake was a terrible earthquake.
    A terrible earthquake had it happened on land, but in the sea it only produced a small tsunami.
    Last edited by Maciamo; Nov 19, 2006 at 00:48. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  18. #68
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    I moved the discussion about the meaning of "single word" to the offtopic about words for love, colours and snow.

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    A terrible earthquake had it happened on land, but in the sea it only produced a small tsunami.
    Don't forget what happened just two years ago.

    Shirakami-Sanchi, a beautiful mountain area in the northern honshu, has been registered as a world-heritage site. Some areas, however, turn to be off-limits to anybody incl. Matagi, traditional hunters.

    You may think it hypocratic that many institutes conducting animal tests here do memorial services for the animals, but it is a bit more peaceful than violent activists, isn't it? I totally agree the fewer tests, the better, though.

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    Because what interests me here is whether our members think (through Japanese propaganda, for instance) that the Japanese indeed love nature more than all people in the world (not just Europeans).

    ??
    BTW
    who is thinking like that?

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    長靴をはいた猫やねん ralian's Avatar
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    Maciamo, have you ever thought how much you are hurting our feeling by bashing Japan like this?
    Maybe you will say that you are not bashing Japan at all.
    However, what you are doing here is hurting JREF.
    I certainly do not appreciate your effort.
    Your aurgument here is quite irrelevant and incorrect.
    PEACE ON EARTH

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    Hmm - I have been following this discussion with interest, although a lot of the points about language escaped me because my knowledge of Japanese isn't good enough to follow them.

    It seems to me that Maciamo is making 2 main points to argue that the Japanese do not particularly "love nature" more than other nations (not to say that they love it any less, but merely not more):

    1. The language contains fewer separate/non-compound words for different species/sub-species of animals, and the classifications are less accurate than in many European languages - implying that historically-speaking (i.e. while the language was in development) the Japanese people in general did not have sufficient interest in and/or love of nature to classify animal and plant species as accurately as Europeans did.

    2. Proportionately fewer Japanese people visit countryside parks in their spare time.

    Well, I can't speak about the development of language, since I know nothing about it. Languages are very complicated in the way they develop (hence the other thread for this). Certainly, it seems logical that nations/races would develop the most extensive vocabulary in areas that are of particular use to them (and hence of particular interest) - whether that be hunting, fishing, agriculture, snow, whatever.

    It could be that it is rather an issue of "inaccurate" language, and a generally more haphazard approach to classification of species, rather than a disinterest. This could be more connected to the development of the Japanese language rather than their relationship to the natural world - but as I've said, I don't know enough about the language and its history, so that's just one possible hypothesis. So I will leave that point alone.

    The proportion of people visiting countryside parks and such... Hmm, I wonder, what would be the reason for a lower proportion? Of course, obviously one reason would be that fewer people are interested in nature, in the sense of going outside and experiencing it. But what could be the reason for this? I wonder if it is linked at all to upbringing and education. For instance, if the government doesn't think it's worthwhile for schools to teach much about the natural world, people would be much more inclined to grow up without much knowledge about "nature" (I see this happening in my own generation in the UK, sadly). So partly it's not that people have some kind of "inherent" disinterest, but rather that an interest is not awakened in them, either by teachers at school or handed on by their parents.

    Of course, that implies a deep-seated "culture of disinterest", and makes me ask even more questions.

    I find it hard to believe that the Japanese as a nation have always had a disinterest in the natural world, because like every other nation, this is essential for survival and to get strong and prosperous, and an involvement with "nature" can only actually be dropped when a nation has reached a certain stage of social and technological advancement that allows people to live their lives at something of a remove from nature - e.g., don't have to harvest and/or kill their own food any more, have substantial and reliable protection from adverse weather conditions, and other things like that. Japan is, of course, well technologically-advanced and in fact is well-known for being pretty up at front these days when it comes to such things. But it wasn't always the case. It is a country that has developed very fast in a relatively short space of time. So my little theorylet says that perhaps in some respects Japan and its people are in a kind of "honeymoon period" with technology. It's new, and it's great, and it could be that in this particular time of Japan's history, there is a keenness for "in with the new" and a consequent lowering of interest in the timeless background to life that is "nature".

    On the other hand, that could just be me blethering complete and utter rubbish.

    I tend to feel that Japanese people in general have neither more nor less love of nature than any other nation. I also think that, at least at the present time, their appreciation tends to be more "aesthetic" rather than "analytical". For example, I'm sure that Japanese people are as likely as anyone else to enjoy the shape and scent of a beautiful flower, appreciate an impressive mountain range, take photos of trees, enjoy the sound of a waterfall or the song of a bird, etc. etc., even without the precision of language to describe species or the education and encouragement to actively seek out such things.

    When it comes down to it, I suppose it also depends largely on whether you're discussing the Japanese "psyche" or the Japanese "culture", which are of course inter-related but not the same thing! (IMO while "cultures" are widely different around the world, "psyche" is not so different.)

    Another factor in proportion of people visiting countryside parks is about how easy it is for people to get to them. What proportion of the Japanese population lives in cities/urban areas? I imagine it's pretty high although I don't know the figures. I also imagine (although have no idea whether I'm right! :/) that transport links are pretty good, but it could also be costly. Ease and speed of access is a factor in things like that. It might seem a bit way-out to those of you who own cars and/or earn plenty, but I assure you that here in the UK I know a fair number of people who rarely, if ever, visit the countryside, not because they have no interest in it, but simply because, "stuck" in the city, they have not the time and/or money for a visit to be worth their while. I know the UK is not Japan (!) but I wouldn't be entirely surprised if this situation wasn't reflected to some extent in Japan, especially considering all that I've heard about the long working hours expected in Japan.

  23. #73
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralian View Post
    Maciamo, have you ever thought how much you are hurting our feeling by bashing Japan like this?
    Maybe you will say that you are not bashing Japan at all.
    However, what you are doing here is hurting JREF.
    I certainly do not appreciate your effort.
    Your aurgument here is quite irrelevant and incorrect.
    I could say the same. Do you have any idea how much you (the Japanese) have been hurting my feelings by bashing the rest of the world like this ?
    Maybe you will say that you are not bashing the rest of the world at all.
    Your argument here is quite irrelevant and incorrect.

  24. #74
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kinsao View Post
    Hmm - I have been following this discussion with interest, although a lot of the points about language escaped me because my knowledge of Japanese isn't good enough to follow them.
    It seems to me that Maciamo is making 2 main points to argue that the Japanese do not particularly "love nature" more than other nations (not to say that they love it any less, but merely not more):
    Yes, that is pretty much it. You are one of the few people in this discussion who actually managed to understand what I wrote.

    However, there aren't only two main points in my argumentation, but 12, as you will see if you go back to the first post in this thread and check at the bottom the 13 reasons that I have added later to summarise my thoughts. We have discussed a lot about language and parks so far, but I consider these 2 points to be the weakest of my 13 arguments. In fact I didn't even mention that the Japanese visit less often countryside parks, because I do not have verificable data on this (but I do for the percentage of houses with garden).

    The strongest arguments that make me think that the Japanese do not cherish nature more than Westerners (and probably less) are : the relative lack of houses with garden, the little number of botanical and zoological gardens, the little number of nature documentaries on the main TV channels, the absence of elected Green Party, and the near absence of vegetarianism. These are all provable facts. The whaling policy doesn't concern the whole population (although a higher percentage of Japanese than Westerners support whaling, polls have shown), and government-sponsored destruction reveals more about the people working for the government than the general population.

  25. #75
    長靴をはいた猫やねん ralian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I could say the same. Do you have any idea how much you (the Japanese) have been hurting my feelings by bashing the rest of the world like this ?
    Maybe you will say that you are not bashing the rest of the world at all.
    Your argument here is quite irrelevant and incorrect.
    Is this what you think?
    You have quite an interesting opinion.

    Anyway, I don't quite understand why you want to label Japanese and their culture in such a way.
    What's the point?

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