Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Be Careful! It's Dangerous!!

A picture of an orange sign at the entrance to a small copse telling people to be careful of the mud
“nukarumi chūi” (be careful of the mud)
Here's a sign that suddenly appeared at the entrance to a small copse. No rain had fallen and it was not particularly muddy yet a local official had taken the time to plant the sign. It reminded me of the opening of Ichiro Ozawa's 1994 A Blueprint for a New Japan where he noted the lack of safety barriers and signs at the Grand Canyon in the U.S., noting that if this had been in Japan there would have been many. He was trying to make a point about individual responsibility which he later linked to a wider argument about Japan taking more international responsibility. Certainly in daily life, children (and even adults) are often told by that something is dangerous (abunai/kiken). Although these terms are certainly broader than the English equivalents, the question of individual responsibility and Japanese "friendly authoritarianism" (Sugimoto 2015, chapter 10) is a good one.