Welcome on board in our ‘Navis Argenti (Silver Ship)’!
Let us introduce ourselves first by why we have put up this site…..
After 1853, when the Black ShipsW first arrived in Japan, many people visited Japan from European countries and United States and had written many articles and left books on Japan.
Having read their impressions and analysis on Japan, we noticed that there are big differences between what were written by foreigners and the Japanese.
Many foreigners who visited Japan during the end of the Edo periodW to the beginning of the Meiji periodW, Japan was a very beautiful country and Japanese people looked happy no matter how poor they looked to them. While for the Japanese, Japan was a lesser place with an outdated civilization and was woefully industrially and technically behind many countries in the world. The modernization and the industrialization were the urgent tasks for Japan.
Which opinion is credible?
…To seek the answer, we have to look back the history.
With many geological changes, Japan was completely separated from the continent and became Japanese archipelago about 13,000 – 12,000 years ago. Since then, Japan had developed an unique culture with a moderate influence from outside world. Its civilization in Jomon era (14000 B.C. to 300 B.C.) is quite famous.
There are about 3000 remains of the Old Stone Age, more than 10,000 years ago, found until now and generally understood that the ancestors of the Japanese were already existing in Upper Paleolithic age (30,000 – 10,000 years ago).
According to some archaeologists, about 6000 years ago, Ancient Japanese started to settle their way of life from moving for hunting but made societies in selected places. The archeologists say that this choice had not been made before this era in the history, and this selection was practicable thanks for the gift of the nature.
Japan is famous for its landscape. There are many volcanic mountains and rivers. The mountain area occupies about 70% in Japan and the plain field is very limited. However, Ancient Japanese brought land into cultivation with teamwork and lived in a harmony with nature. The spirit of “Wa (Japanese culture)W” – meaning harmony, is said to be already valued at this period. In order to live in a group, people tended to focus on peace and order instead of individual freedom, which gradually created a culture of harmony. Jomon periodW lasted for about 3500 years.
Now, we are in 2013, and only about 160 years had passed since the Black Ships first arrived in Japan in 1853. Do you think it is possible to change the way of thinking and the way of living in such a short period? The drastic changes were not only once when the Black Ships landed in Japan in 1853 but there were at least another two great changes that Japanese had to face; World War II and the Bubble Economy burst in early 1990’s..
The changes happen easily and quickly after the high-technological revolutions. However, human beings are natural and mammalians even though they are intelligent species.
Back to the appreciation of the foreign visitors to Japan back in 160 years ago, here are some pickups from the articles written at that time;
- Life is simple and frugal. Still, people looked satisfied with their own life. They are healthy and in a good temper.
- People care how others feel and appreciate each other.
- The spirit of mutual aid is valued.
- People are kind.
- People are peaceful.
- Japan is socially organized.
- Japan is safe.
- Japanese are hardworking people.
- Japanese are imaginative.
- Japanese are innovative.
- Japanese use any kinds of natural things and use them in many ways.
- Japanese have high sense of beauty.
- Japanese love nature and they know how to coexist with.
We think some of these appreciations can be still heard today and they are exactly the reputations that the Japanese would appreciate from others abroad. This is simply imaginable if we see the presentation of Tokyo for the Olympics 2020.
Now then, has Japan dare to slough the virtues it had 160 years ago? Or negate the core spirit of Japan which has been forgotten long after the revolutions?
The revolutions occurred mainly in the capital city of Japan, Tokyo. Tokyo is now a gigantic metropolitan where there is everything. There are also internationalized unique cultures. Tokyo is a simulative city and many people outside Tokyo came to live for jobs and interests.
Great numbers of foreign people are living, have lived, visited and have visited Tokyo and there are many articles written regarding this great Tokyo. Tokyo is a city where you can easily live in western styles. There are internationally chained shops everywhere and you don’t have to make yourself fit into the Japanese culture if you don’t want to. But we know that the places which are not internationalized interest you more and many unique places in Tokyo are introduced by others a lot. But if you are looking for something really Japanese, it’s better, easier and exciting to get out of the big city.
Why not get out from Tokyo and go to other towns and villages?
Many of the towns and villages outside Tokyo are suffering from depopulation in inverse proportion to the prosperity of Tokyo. But we are sure that the virtue of Japan still remains outside Tokyo strongly, the beauty of landscape, the beauty of architecture in a good harmony with the nature, and the “OMOTENASHI” – a hospitality mind and thoughts of care to their visitors, which Japan accomplished 160 yeas ago by foreigners.
Take the our Silver Ship, ‘Navis Argenti‘ to find the beautiful mind and spirit that the Japanese had strongly 160-year-ago, where you can see and feel more outside Tokyo!
Navis Argenti introduces you the interesting spots to visit outside Tokyo and also gives you clues, tips and answers on living with Japanese concerning and the cultural effects of the Japanese behaviors, and more other interesting topics of Japan!