Culture In Japan Nature Analysis

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Arne Kalland’s thesis in “Culture in Japanese Nature” is that Japan is not a country that loves nature despite the image of Japan that many Western countries have. He theorizes that the Japanese love of nature in literature is metaphorical, rather than literal, and argues that “the Japanese try to control nature, or ‘conquer’ it by the process of taming (Kalland 243),” and that “only by idealization, or ‘taming’… does nature become palatable (Kalland 246).” However, he presents his argument as if there is a present movement to tame the wilderness; this is untrue. The Japanese “abhorrence toward ‘nature in the raw’ (Kalland 246),” is created by a long literary tradition that glorified and embellished the landscape and scenery regarding the meisho, …show more content…
The novel tells the story of two twin sisters, one, Naeko, who is raised as an apprentice working on Kitayama, and the other, Chieko, is raised as the daughter of a kimono designer. These two eventually meet, and although the beginning of their relationship shows them exploring the wilderness, the depictions of the storm show that Chieko is obviously uncomfortable being in the wilderness once it fails to live up to poetic and idyllic expectations. Furthermore, a major theme in the novel is Chieko’s increasingly desperate attempts to convince Naeko to move to Kyoto, first, by asking Naeko to move in with Chieko’s family, then by giving her a kimono and obi, and later by trying to convince her to marry Hideo; this is in essence, Chieko trying to tame the wilder Naeko by attempting to convince her to move to the city, giving her impractical clothing that can only be worn in the city, and asking her to marry a man who is also urbanized. The attempt to urbanize Naeko is a metaphor for the attempt to control wildness. The fact that both Chieko and Hideo are described as traditional characters while they try to urbanize Naeko further proves Kalland’s thesis that the Japanese tradition only loves tamed nature as opposed to “nature in the raw” because both of these characters attempt to deny Naeko her self-autonomy because they believe that it is …show more content…
Wilderness refers to nature in its pristine state and includes a sense of rawness. Wilderness, though men can visit it, must be entirely separate from society and civilization. Wildness, however, is nature that is connected and present within civilization. Here, man and nature share space rather than being entirely separate. Wilderness is the antithesis of a city whereas wildness is an intermediate. In the passage where Masako and Chieko visit Kitayama, Kawabata initially characterizes it as wilderness by introducing it to us as a pure place that Chieko uses as a retreat from the city, emphasizing that Masako and tourists don’t visit, and creating the image of a relatively untouched mountain and forest. He describes Kitayama in beautiful, poetic detail, stating that “the steep mountains pressed against the banks of the Kiyotaki River (Kawabata 64),” showing reverence. Lastly, he describes the men who cut the trees for wood as “jumping from the top of one tree to the next like monkeys (Kawabata 68),” thereby removing some of their humanity in favor of comparing them to animals. All of these descriptions show an attempt to make Kitayama feel like relative wilderness (especially compared to Kyoto), however, the existence of Naeko’s town means that by definition, Kitayama is not

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