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You could imitate it or change it. Its meaning could be shared among people. Maybe the word was "food" or "love" or "God.

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It just was. And the word constituted culture, because the word carried meaning. If there were only one concept to be considered in the discussion of culture, it is this: meaning. How do we know whether the group of letters a-p-p-l-e represents that sweet-tart yellow or red fruit, or a brand name of computer? How do we know whether the group of letters l-e-a-d represents that blue-gray metallic chemical element, or the verb that signifies "to show the way? It is because we have learned to share the meanings of words. Of course meanings are not limited to written words but began with thought words and spoken words, signed words, gestured words, pictured words.

All these kinds of words carry meaning. And it is in the meanings of things that culture resides, regardless of whether it is traditional or modern culture. So we can commence with the idea that our traditional ancestors, like their modern descendants, learned and shared meanings. Traditional and modern culture are alike in another way. Both developed to accommodate their surroundings. Both traditional and modern culture work for people because they are suited to local environmental conditions. A farming culture would not work as well in Antarctica.

Inuit Eskimo culture would not survive as well in the Sahara. Bedouin culture would not function as well in Manhattan. Culture of any kind works best and longest if it is well adapted to local conditions. It should perhaps be noted that there is apparently nothing genetic about the presence or absence of traditional culture; traditional culture is not the sole province of any one ethnic group. For example, in ancient Europe the Celts and Teutons lived traditional culture.

In ancient North America the Anishinabe and Lakota lived traditional culture. In ancient Africa the Bantu and Yoruba lived traditional culture.


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At some point back in history all human beings -- regardless of what continent they occupied and which ethnic group they constituted -- all lived in a traditional tribal culture. Modern culture developed in some areas of the planet as human societies grew larger. Mass organization in some form -- first the development of large work forces and armies, and later the development of mechanized means of production -- was an important force in changing traditional culture into modern culture.

The shift from rural life to urban life is at the core of the development of modern culture. While traditional and modern culture may be similar in some ways, in some very significant ways they are clearly different from each other. Traditional culture, such as our human ancestors enjoyed, is held together by relationships among people -- immediate family, extended family, clan and tribe.


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  8. Everyone lives nearby. Everyone knows how he or she fits into the mix because relationships, and the behaviors that go along with them, are clearly defined. If I violate what is expected, everyone will know. Perhaps there will be severe consequences. But this does not rob the humans who live traditional culture of their individuality. Some brothers act differently from other brothers. Some uncles take on different roles depending, for example, on whether they are mother's brother or father's brother, or whether they are particularly gregarious or more somber, and so on.

    But in general, well-defined family and clan relationships, and the kinship terms that signal them, make daily operations in traditional society take a workable course. If you have the proper relationship with someone, you can get just about anything accomplished. If, on the other hand, you don't have the proper relationship, you find it difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish anything.

    You learn that kinship terms are key phrases in getting along. In traditional culture, relationships and people seem to be what matters. In the modern culture of mainstream America, most people live in nuclear families: Mom and Dad and 2. Many have only occasional contact with family members outside the immediate household.

    Young people quickly learn that their importance depends on how many and what kind of things they can control. Eventually they learn that power -- personal, economic, social, political, religious, whatever -- gets things done. Modern culture has a tendency to spread out, to build empires, to capitalize on as many resources as possible.

    Modern culture seems to be held together by power and things, not by people and relationships. In modern culture people learn that business life is separate from personal life, for example that church and state can be kept apart. We learn to compartmentalize our lives. Still, the intimate, pragmatic practices of Okinawan karate required fundamental changes to transition to Japan where they were ritualized, formalized and militarized.

    These modifications were not always carried out at the direct order of the Japanese government. Itosu Anko and Miyagi Chojun were influential in the simplification of the system and its dissemination through the development of their series of Pinan and Gekesai dai kata, respectively.

    Though examples such as Itosu and Chojun illustrate the role of individual agency in modifying karate, the structural setting that the Okinawan art found itself in vis-a-vis the government and culture of mainland Japan should not be neglected. Part of this approach to child development included the belief that students should be taught the martial arts. It was the government's position that martial arts instruction would lead to healthier students that would make better citizens. Moreover, such training would instill in them a martial spirit- making them ideal conscripts for military service Amdur ; Madis Problematic for education officials was the possibility that the classical disciplines of Japanese martial arts were not suitable for instruction in the public school setting, due to their demands of loyalty to the discipline itself rather than to the Emperor Amdur On Okinawa, the introduction of martial arts into the school system happened much earlier Despite the importance of karate in Okinawan culture, which eased its incorporation into the educational system a decade ahead of the mainland, here too, simplification and modification of the art was required.

    Itosu's endeavors should be set against the politico-cultural background of a Japan that, though it did not view Okinawans as fully Japanese Friman ; Hudson , was compelled by its imperialist aspirations Befu Though previously viewed as subordinate and differentiated from the Japanese of the mainland, in the build-up to war, it became more important to the Japanese government to incorporate or assimilate the Okinawan people via nationalist programs.

    In this conversation between government policy and Okinawan tradition, karate underwent changes that some felt were necessary for the survival and dissemination of the art. Yet, individuals are not absolutely powerless within the structures of their society. Changes can as easily come from the motivations and actions of participants making use of the frameworks provided to them by the structure, as from the structure itself.

    By he had established more than 30 dojo, or training halls, mostly aligned with educational institutions Madis He was also instrumental in convincing the government to make karate part of the curriculum in Japanese schools in , as it had been in Okinawa for over two decades Krug The system was reduced to punches, blocks, kicks, and weapons, while advanced techniques were considered unsuitable for school children or the general public.

    These changes should not be characterized as simply a process of subtraction as techniques were pared away. So, the idea of combat was deeply ingrained in us In response to his students requests, Funakoshi introduced jiyu-kumite, or sparring, into the practice of karate in Japan Krug This represented a departure from the kata centric, or pattern-practice focused, nature of karate as performed in Okinawa until that time.

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    This change also opened the art up for sportification and competition, and it is credited for greatly increasing the popularity of karate in Japan Krug ; Friman Funakoshi was quite aware of the judo and kendo sport culture that his Japanese students had grown up in and were motivated by in their requests for live competition.

    From judo he adopted the ranking system of colored belts and degrees of black belts, as well as the basic uniform or gi Mottern Before adopting uniforms, karate practitioners in Okinawa simply practiced in their everyday clothes. In many cases they practiced in nothing other than their underwear because of the oppressive heat and humidity of their tropical island home Madis These innovations included Most of these procedures already had been implemented in judo and kendo training and reflect a blending of European militarism and physical culture with Japanese neo-Confucianism, militarism and physical culture.

    These practices also signal a distinct shift from the karate practiced on Okinawa as described earlier Friman , Krug , Mottern and mark the beginning of what is thought of as 'karate' today. Through the adoption of the sport and militaristic elements, as well as the spiritual philosophies of Japanese martial culture, karate was able to find a place in the culture of mainland Japan. Often supported by and disseminated through the government, these adaptations of the practice found their way back to Okinawa and were largely embraced both by masters and students. To this day, in Okinawa as well as Japan, students wear the gi and colored belts, line up in order of rank and drill in precise lines.

    In , a collection of karate instructors who had followed Funakoshi's lead and had emigrated to the mainland, gathered together to discuss karate's future at the invitation of Ota Chofu of the Ryukyu Shinpo Ryukyu Press. This move was largely precipitated by and in recognition of Japanese animosity and contempt for China at the time. Central to the continuation and success of karate was this decision to align the art more appropriately with Japanese ideologies, particularly those of a spiritual nature.

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    Without such concatenation of elements karate may never have found purchase in mainland Japan. In doing so, those Okinawan masters responsible for such changes sought to make the art something more in line with the Japanese martial art tradition, or budo. Either as actors with their own agency who found value in these changes, or as the victims of structural forces that capitulated to the assimilation programs of the Japanese government, these practitioners modified their practice to align with the ideologies of mainland Japan.

    Despite these efforts and compromises, karate was viewed as a foreign martial art, largely because the Japanese government as well as many Japanese people still did not consider Okinawans to be fully Japanese Friman This foreign connotation was not merely a neutral, geographic marker to the Japanese of the mainland, but was also wrapped up in the stereotypes applied everywhere to a minority culture. The traditional forms of the samurai class were held to be of great antiquity, having a history into the early part of the millennium- but such a characterization is an oversimplification Goodman It is true there was a samurai culture for centuries in Japan and that it powerfully shaped and influenced life and culture in certain ways Nakane Due to the power of their position politically and economically, core subcultures, such as the samurai of the Tokugawa Era, are able to project their idealized version of what society should be into the everyday world, where society is constituted.

    Through a near monopoly of legal and legislative powers, media channels, and even military force, a core subculture is able to frame the cultural discussion and shape it to their own desires or beliefs. Sugimoto The extent to which core subcultures are able to accomplish such a task is connected to their ability to minimize those subcultures within their society- either through compliance or capitulation- that do not come from the same cultural traditions or perspectives Goodman Thus, though the samurai class was the most dominant subculture both politically and culturally in Tokugawa Japan, the samurai lifestyle was lived by only a few Sugimoto Interestingly the core subculture of the samurai class obtained its widest currency not when its political power was ascendant, but rather when it was on the decline and the very class identity of the samurai verged on extinction Ueno It was not until the Meiji Restoration, when the Tokugawa regime was seemingly dismantled, that the samurai class was able to effectively project their ideological influence further afield than ever before by offering a viable way to the other subcultures of Japan to adopt the samurai lifestyle.

    The samurai class was abolished, as were the other classes that ordered Tokugawa Japan, but the samurai class, not willing to give up their ethos, opted instead to share it. Many commoners seeing the benefit of adopting the mores and norms of the former ruling class as a way to increase their own cultural status, embraced these changes Ueno Nihonjinron is an ethnocentric ideology that celebrates the indicative qualities of Japanese culture as imagined by its proponents.

    In its varied guises this cultural discourse has been the major vehicle through which the core subcultures of Japan have broadcast their ideologies. Following the surrender of Imperial Japan to the Allied Forces, this cultural discourse suffered a major setback in defeat, unable to explain why the uniquely potent Japanese could not overcome their foes. In time, the discourse was resumed under the title of Nihonjinron Befu Though perhaps less rooted in the mythological origins of the Japanese people and the Imperial Family, this later discourse still referred to the superiority and uniqueness of what its commentators conceived of as the Japanese people Befu The framework of these arguments relied heavily upon the ethos of the samurai core subculture of the Tokugawa period Sugimoto ; Ueno The discourse of Nihonjinron offers comparative and normative models.

    As such, karate came to mainland Japan at the same time that this cultural discourse held its greatest sway. In the years directly preceding World War II, the structural pressures created by the ethnocentric discourse of Imperial Japan cannot be overstated.

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    In those instances where Okinawan karate masters exhibited personal agency in the modification and adaptation of karate during this time, it should be remembered that such structural pressures limited the choices available to them. Despite such pressures and the work of Okinawan masters in Japan to conform to Japanese ideals, the practice of karate was not fully assimilated into the culture of Japan by the time that the Allied Forces took control of the government.

    Unlike the other contemporary martial arts practiced in Japan most notably kendo and judo karate practitioners were able to remain comparatively undisturbed in the dissemination of their art. With the closure of other avenues to study martial arts, karate experienced greater interest from the Japanese people as well as the Allied service personnel stationed in Japan Donohue Through the normative discourse practices of Nihonjinron in post-war Japan, karate could be incorporated into the Japanese cultural awareness.

    This incorporation of an Okinawan martial art was made possible when the separation between the Japanese people and the Okinawan people was minimized to satisfy the needs of the Japanese core subculture's preparations for war. Specifically, this was accomplished through the reconfiguration of the conceptual models of cultural bounding. In the late Meiji period the term jinshu,or race, became overshadowed by minzoku, which most ably translates into 'volk' or the 'folk' Morris-Suzuki Karate successfully applied this rubric to its advantage in the years surrounding World War II to be adopted by Japanese culture and promoted by the Japanese government.

    Both of these martial arts were only formalized in the years following the Meiji Restoration, though they are held to be of ancient origin Chan Following the dissolution of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Japanese society rapidly underwent a program aimed at industrializing and modernizing the country Befu For the martial arts of Japan, this meant the adoption of standardized curriculum, ranking and uniforms.

    In most cases these martial arts underwent the same changes as karate a mere handful of decades earlier Madis Thus, the adaptation of karate in Japan should not only be seen as a cultural translation from Okinawa to Japan, each with their own cultural traditions, but also as the product of a localized culture translating to a rapidly industrializing culture.

    This 'modernizing' of practices was not a limited enterprise, but touched all parts of Japanese society, culture, and economy. The hallmark of the Japanese modernization programs was to combine elements from the traditions of the core subculture and marry them to exogenous advances in technology and organization. In Meiji Japan though, this worldview of temporality and progress was so endorsed that it carried the weight of reality Arnason If many of the innovations or perversions that were incorporated into the practice of karate in Japan had failed to find footing in Okinawa, then it might indicate that the process was merely a geographical and cultural one: as karate moved from Okinawa to Japan, it became more Japanese.

    A Buddhist service is held early every morning at Shukubo temples. During the ceremony, the chief priest and monks of the temple chant Buddhist sutras in the main temple hall. It may be noted many temples offer a course on meditation. In the past, temple lodgings were only for monks engaged in disciplined practices. However, Buddhists temples these days are open to tourists regardless of their beliefs. This is why religious tourism and the hospitality that temples give, is a popular choice among overseas visitors.

    The best example of this would be Koyasan which has more than 50 temples. The Geisha are considered living custodians of Japanese culture and one of the known symbols of Japan. In essence, they are performing artists, adept at playing a range of musical instruments, traditional dance and mannered conversation.

    Tea Ceremony. The ceremony is to form a bond between host and guest that demonstrates the spirit of generosity and respect. The Japanese tea ceremony is a long standing tradition, the refreshing brew first being introduced during the 9th century. Its initial use was for religious rituals in Buddhist monasteries going on to become a status symbol for the well-off and military officials.

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    Over the years, tea drinking has been extended to different levels. Sumo Wrestling. Sumo has a long and proud history and is considered the oldest sport of Japan. It has strict rules and traditions that have survived modernity and are still rigorously adhered to. There are rituals and ceremonies performed before practice and bouts. The idea behind the sport is that two Rikishi's wrestlers contend, push and try to throw each other out of the Dohyo circular ring.

    The winner being the wrestler who forces his opponent to the ground or out of the circle. The Rikishi's wear their hair in topknot, wearing nothing but a Mawashi loincloth. Traditional Performing Arts - Noh. The music, dance and drama all originated the 14th century. The well-known Noh founder, Zeami, is one of the most important historical figures in Japanese theatre.

    Many years ago, all Noh players were men, but lately there have been a growing number of female players. The hero or heroine wears a mask during the performance and Waki —a stock character, acts both as a performer and musician. Traditional Performing Arts - Kabuki. The main audience are townspeople and farmers. It is one of the three major classical styles in Japan. Originally, the cast were performers of both sexes, male and female but later all parts were played by men and this tradition continuous up to the present day.

    Kabuki is performed by men wearing Kesho kabuki make-up. There are two types of roles, which are Aragoto rough style and Wagoto soft style.