Tuesday, 6 January 2009

C is for chrysanthemum club



Speaking as a former member, Our Man knows the chrysanthemum club is not about flowers and is not nearly as fun as the Mile High Club (although Our Man really wouldn't know, sadly). The term was originally used as a gibe against Edwin O. Reischauer and his buddies in postwar Japan. Well, here's a gosh-darn real Japan expert to explain, this from Patrick Smith in Japan: A Reinterpretation:

So named for the seal of the Japanese imperial house, the term was never meant to flatter. Chrysanthemum club members were called geisha. They were considered uncritical apologists for Japan, a role they fulfilled on many occasions. Theirs was the perspective of results. That is, they left out or glossed over the unattractive things about Japan so that ‘success’ appeared to be the sanitary consequence of altogether agreeable arrangements. The appearance of ‘cultural schizophrenia’ and corruption are put down to ‘the untutored Western eye’.

Today, members of the club include English re-writers at the Japanese newspapers, foreign English teachers flattered by being called kawaii, quite a few bloggers enamoured with all things Japanese, and of course journalists who know which side their bread's buttered on. Now, you are probably wondering, if Our Man were a flower, would he be a chrysanthemum? An English rose? Or a noxious weed? Well, he did used to work in the Japan/LDP propaganda industry as a copy editor for the Daily Yomiuri. These days, Our Man likes to think of himself more as one of those unnoticed plants behind the vegetable patch that every now and again produces something edible - somewhere between rhubarb and stinging nettles.

2 comments:

dk said...

dandelion and burdock makes a lovely drink...

Guyjin said...

Personally I'm a fan of 'cultural schizophrenia'... It always makes life fresh and interesting...

I always liked apple rhubarb with custard as a child too... Although the stinging nettles I could do without...