This will be about Sun-Rooted People Theory (日本人論).
This topic is something that can be discussed from two perspectives involving either:
- the political history or
- the religion (of a people).
Japan (like many, many other nation-states) was made up of little, small Countries (国=kuni). It didn’t use to be the whole Japanese chain of islands from
- the contested Northern Territories / Kurile Islands in the north to
- the contested… islands to the south of Okinawa. (What do we call the southern islands? Senkaku or Diaoyu? Who is “we”?)
The concept of Japan (Nihon-koku 日本国 Sun-Rooted-Country) as the chain-of-islands (and not a mosaic of prefecture-sized countries) is very modern (post-1860s).
At some point somebody started calling all this a “country”.
When did this happen? It started when other people (other countries) start coming in.
The Bright-Fixing Time-Era (明治時代 Meiji-Jidai) is the most conspicuous point when Sun-Rooted People Theories begin to take root, but the seeds were there already.
The notion had been entertained since
- at least Edo (Bay-Door 江戸, currently known as the Eastern-Capital 東京 (Tokyo)) and
- probably going back as far as Heian (平安 Peace-Rest) period, when the emperor was located in Kyoto (Capital-Metropolis 京都).
Let us remember that the emperor is descended from the Sun (Amaterasu 天照 Sky-Illuminating) God.
Let us remember that the emperor’s family lineage can be traced back thousands of years using some scrolls.
Now, you have to understand that in Japan the family scroll business is taken very seriously. Personally, I don’t think it goes back as far as Yayoi (Increasingly-Alive 弥生) period before Christ. It might. I don’t know.
However, for your average Japanese family living nowadays it goes back pretty far into the past. If you don’t believe me, read some anthropological study about the family register system in Japan (koseki 戸籍): The Door-Register for the House-Tribe (家族=family).
I’m not sure whether the current emperor is descended from one specific person living in the 6th or 7th century:
Before Common Era we have Emperor Jinmu (God-Warrior 神武) and in the Common Era we have Emperor Tenmu (Sky-Warrior 天武).
There is a whole book about this.
How is it called? Inscriptions of Old-Things (Kojiki 古事記) written circa 8th century CE.
I will not go into that because I’m not knowledgeable (or smart) about the Old-Things, but I will tell you this:
For the average person living in Japan until Meiji period the above was not common knowledge and the sense of identity was perhaps different from what the current Japanese people feel about Nihonjin (the Sun-Rooted People).
Since the Bright-Fixing (Meiji 明治), when there were conscious efforts at state-building, the Sun-Rooted Theory had to be emphasized with a great deal of attention paid to those Western powers threatening to break up the country, like they were doing with the Middle-Country (China 中国).
Recall that at this point (at the end of the 19th century), whereas
- in Europe the Western powers (and Russia) are scrambling to gobble up parts of Turkey (the Ottoman Empire, which, by the way, included some parts of Romania),
- in Asia the Western powers (and Russia) are just pushing into China (Hong Kong, Singapore, Macao, Port Arthur…).
If you’re an Asian person at the end of the 19th century, you see that people coming from across the ocean try to plant colonies in your country, the way they did in the United States 200 years before.
What happened in the United States, in what was called America?
Why was it called America? Because of the name of some guy from Europe.
Let us remember the names and their etymology.
The name of the country was decided by those White guys coming from Europe.
So how do you feel if you’re in the Sun-Rooted Country?
- Will you bow your head to these guys?
- Will you let them settle in and try to make inroads into your country?
- Is it safe (to let them)?
Obviously, the Tokugawa (Virtue-River) family thought it was not, so for 250 years Japan becomes “Closed” (Chained-Country sakoku 鎖国).
While the Sun-Rooted People prepared to fight the foreigners, they also fought to assimilate (by force of arms) other people nearby such as the Ryukyu people (Kingdom of Okinawa) and the Ainu people. The Sun-Rooted People had to come together and this is when the Sun-Rooted People Theory came in as a unifying concept.
The Sun-Rooted People Theory goes through cycles of positive and negative feelings.
The Meiji period (the Bright-Healing 明治) starts with the BAD feeling that we (the Japanese, the Sun-Rooted People) are inferior, uncivilised in some ways. By “uncivilised” it was meant
“we may lose in the battle for survival with the other races, so we need to adopt some of the techniques of those other guys, because ours are not as perfect (although we will keep ours in store)”.
Then we have re-discovery of a GOOD feeling once we (the Japanese, the Sun-Rooted People) managed to copy the Western know-how and technology and combined it with the Sun-Rooted Theory to make Japan strong. We felt confident enough to spread Sun-Rooted People Theory across Asia.
The problem is that we tried to spread the same spirit of aggressiveness which, take note, was
- the same as the one Japan had feared,
- the same which inspired the Sun-Rooted People to become strong.
This GOOD feeling about our own Sun-Rootedness also inspired us to attack weaker places by creating
a huge wave of enthusiasm and patriotic fervour which swept the whole chain of islands of Sun-Rooted People and threw them like a wave across Asia, until they smashed upon the rocks of their own arrogance and the rocks of a different people…
As soon as this wave breaks, the Sun-Rooted People think that their Sun-Rooted Theory is trash, so we have (again) a BAD feeling about ourselves as we have to ask
Who made the Sun-Rooted Country bad?
For several decades after the war everybody goes through a phase of self-recrimination, but then we reach the economic boom of the late 60s: The miracle of Asia.
This is a time during which the Sun-Rooted People produce such a huge amount of wealth for themselves and (in some ways) for many other people that one cannot help but feel GOOD about oneself as we see the name “Japan” on
- so many things that
- so many people in
- so many countries used.
This phase lasts until the 80s when the bubble bursts and Japan finds itself in the current BAD mood:
A cyclical return since things eternally recur.
Why was the Sun-Rooted Country in the gutter (again)?
- Over protectionism?
- Too much confidence in land prices going up in Ginza (Silver-Sitting 銀座)?
Fast-forward a quarter of a century later where the mood may be swinging again to a positive one. The Sun-Rooted People have started to think that the Sun-Rooted Theory has some GOOD parts which could be adopted by the rest of the world.
What are the GOOD parts which can become models for others to follow?
These can be found in that tradition which had been held in store for so long, from before that time when new stuff was brought in to protect the Sun-Rooted People in the 19th century.
There is more to be found within the Sun-Rooted Theory. It’s not limited to showing you how to make a really good car. Somebody had developed in this land a method on how to approach things:
- zen (禅 Meditation)
- zen (善 Good)
- zen (全 All)
- zen (漸 Gradual)
- zen (然 Just-so)
We need to remember the principles and the paths which our ancestors everywhere have walked to enable us to arrive here.
Where is “here”? This is the Land of the Rising Sun and the Rising Sun does not mean conquering and subjugating other people. It means
- shining a light upon other people (where possible), and
- holding a mirror to ourselves to see the light shone back, and
- allowing that other humans such as ourselves have also come from the same place, and
- being in this world together we should let others’ light shine upon us.
Hopefully this dialogue of lights will reach some resonance point to allow us to live in harmony and peace, Sun-Rooted People, Middle-Country People, everybody coming together, as One.