The purpose of this paper is to discuss the Oedipal issue among the Japanese. Before elaborating on this topic, I would like to mention some of the characteristics of the Japanese that are rather antithetical to the Oedipal manifestation of capacity and power. Japanese culture is often noted for its passivity, secretiveness and non-expression in various social contexts. What is hidden and obscure tends to be given a deeper meaning than what is external and eye-catching. In his work “In Praise of Shadows,” Tanizaki (1934) describes the Japanese inclination to give aesthetic value to “darkness seen by candlelight.” Japanese culture has more affinity to “penumbra” (a partial shadow), the opposite of the “too-much-light-explicit false-self world” (Abram, 2016).
This inclination of the Japanese mind toward passivity and non-expression coincides with my own trans-cultural experience. During my extended stay in the United States, I had many chances to see American family members hugging and kissing each other in airport lobbies when they were reunited or departing. Some of my American friends were puzzled to see Japanese family members showing very little emotion in these situations. Some Japanese would say, however, that overt shows of affection, such as hugging and kissing, as well as verbal expressions such as “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” strike them generally as too blatant and conspicuous, sometimes to the point of being empty and ritualistic.
Another poignant example that may well depict the above-mentioned Japanese characteristics is Japanese people’s behaviors in group situations. They tend to be very quiet and keep a low profile in situations such as lectures and discussions at universities, while students from different countries are rather more assertive and expressive. Quite often, Japanese students are mistaken as subdued and dejected in these situations. (以下略)