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Japan Trivia 9: 禊 (Misogi)

In Japan it's so easy to get purified.

If you draw the Old Maid, however, you get penalized for what you are not really responsible for. But don't worry too much because Japan is a civilized country - so they say. From time to time, you have to perform a harakiri ritual, but a symbolic disembowelment will suffice these days.

They call the whole process of ablution 禊 (misogi) or お祓い (oharai.) Although these words have their origin in Shinto terminology, they still remain everyday words because this is an essential part of Japanese life. Even when a construction company builds a modern high-rise building, the centerpiece of the groundbreaking ceremony (photo) is purification of the site conducted by a 神主 (kannushi or Shinto priest) or two.
In Act 5 of the political kabuki, Naoto Kan takes center stage as the new prime minister.

His past misdemeanors included a case in which it was revealed that he had neglected his duty to pay pension premiums. In 2004, he had to step down as head of the Democratic Party of Japan as a fallout of this "scandal." Then he took a long pilgrimage (photo) to cleanse himself.

Now fully purified, he came back as the DPJ chief and Japan's prime minister.

When it comes to Kan's predecessor Yukio Hatoyama and his de facto boss Ichiro Ozawa, hordes of kannushi in the media are saying in concert that they are quite OK now because they have already gone through their part of ablution ritual by symbolically stabbing each other to (feigned) death.

The only thing the mainstream media were concerned about was how Kan could distance himself from Ozawa who is still on parole, so to speak. But the sticking point quickly dissolved when Kan said, as he was supposed to say: "Despite everything we owe him, I will ask him to sit out and keep quiet for a while."

For a while means until the dust settles.

Along these lines they are now saying --

Let's forget about all the money Ozawa has stolen from taxpayers because it's all over now.

Let the thief retain his latent power as the Shadow Shogun because otherwise the most powerful Ozawa faction might spin off from the party.

Let's put the lid on Pandora's Box carelessly opened by Hatoyama to seal off what the Okinawans and some other Japanese glimpsed inside.

In order to "reset" DPJ's weak-kneed stance toward North Korea under the influence of the pro-Pyongyang Ozawa in the past, let us ratchet up pressure on North Korea. Who cares if Japan's economic sanctions against it have already been "maxed out"? This is crucially important in duping the Okinawans into believing the U.S. military presence in their islands is essential to the stability of this region.

To that end let's also refrain from talking too much about the major setback Lee Myun-bak's Grand National Party suffered in the June 2 local elections. It looks as though the South Korean president was wrong when he thought he could reverse the recent downtrend in GNP's dominance by leveraging the miraculously timely release of the investigative report on the Cheonan sinking. Just take note we should avoid a similar setback in future elections.

Under the circumstances it's all the more necessary to whitewash the fact that in 1989 Kan and his colleagues, including current Justice Minister Keiko Chiba, sent a letter to then South Korean president Roh Tae-woo to beg for his mercy to release from prison a North Korean agent who had allegedly abducted Japanese citizen(s) - on the ground that the perpetrator had been given permanent residence status here. (See the YouTube video embedded at the bottom of this post.)

And it is equally important that Yukio Edano, the leader of the budget screening team, to turn a blind eye to Japan's defense budget that tops $50 billion and make believe the country needs to keep the fattiest sacred cow to get prepared for a possible but unlikely attack by North Korea whose military spending is a mere $6 billion.

Only on that condition, we will award Edano, the avowed anti-Ozawa element, the party secretaryship.

-- and so on and so forth.

With Kan's approval rating soon to shoot up to the vicinity of 70%, we are now seeing a fully cleansed new Japan emerging on the horizon.

Wasting no time, those surface-scratching, Japanophilic pundits in the West have already started to reinstate Japan as a key member of the "international community" and America's most important ally in this region.

The venue of Japan's comeback will be the upcoming G8 Summit to take place in Huntsville, Canada, later this month.

These are what the misogi ritual was all about this time around.

It's really a piece of cake for this country to get reincarnated, over and over again.

An LDP lawmaker is asking Chiba whether or not the current Justice Minister knew the kidnapper of a Japanese cook was among the 29 prisoners in question when she signed the letter to Roh Tae-woo. Chiba's answer: "I may have been careless enough to overlook his name." And that is that. ·

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Japan Trivia 9: 禊 (Misogi) and お祓い (Oharai)
Authored by: samwidge on Friday, June 04 2010 @ 11:06 PM JST

I presume you are suggesting that this does not happen elsewhere?

We are a world of powerful people doing powerful things in powerfully independent ways. I read an American blog comment elsewhere that said the Russian response to Somali pirates probably was best -- Shoot 'em, ditch the bodies and explain it later in the briefest fashion possible.

America is a wholehearted ally of Israel. Unfortunately, we have a large contingent of people who clearly remember Israel's cruel, illegal and inappropriate attack on the USS Liberty. Surviving sailors mounted a massive "Remember the Liberty" campaign. Aftermath of that debacle has been managed rather successfully by large-scale outright denial of the motive. Nobody remembers the Liberty.

That is management of the masses by talented (but not nice) people.

Remember Bill Clinton? Everybody remembers his friend, Monica, too. In fact, we all tend to imagine ourselves building an hour or two of remembrance with the smiling brunette. Unfortunately, the childish media frenzy over her personal services seems to have been carefully orchestrated to keep us all from remembering Bill's more serious misdeeds in the matter of environmental extremism. Monica also helped prevent inquiry on some missing files and a suicide. (I will bet that you never realized the reason behind Monica's otherwise pointless confession. I will bet that you never wondered why the whole thing seemed so odd.)

Now that's professional! That's high-class manipulation of the masses. Neither James Bond nor his adversaries could do better. Harry Houdini was an amateur illusionist next to these guys.

Somehow, I imagine your popular leaders calling Clinton up, "Say, Bill. Can you help me out. I made a boo-boo and 10,000 people died. Would you please show me how to make people forget. Ablution just isn't working any more."

Japan Trivia 9: 禊 (Misogi) and お祓い (Oharai)
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Saturday, June 05 2010 @ 02:53 AM JST


I don't see the slightest resemblance between Shinto rituals practiced by the Japanese and the brutality of the Russians or Israelis. Japanese are much more sheepish, dovish, forgiving, blood-phobic, peace-loving, effete, sissy, civilized, or whatever you may call them.

The shortest way to describe them is: neotenized.

Believe me, I don't have any ideological, religious or more practical reason to distort or exaggerate their attributes. I won't lose, let alone gain, anything by doing so. I'm just telling my audience the truth about their pathology, expecting absolutely nothing from anyone.

Buddha is always telling me, "Nothing really matters."

Yu Yamamoto