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The Land of Consumption and Advertisement

Kawaraban No. 18


by Kenji Shimizu

Some days ago Erhard Schneider, 38 years, an aikido student from Germany, visited the dojo. He came to Japan for training and some sightseeing. It was his first trip to Japan, and although he had some previous knowledge, everything was new to him, and he showed great interest.

When we were driving towards Izu the other day, he asked with surprise or better said with a disgusted look: “Sensei, why is there such a lot of advertisement in Japan?” And when I had a look at the surrounding area again, there was indeed a flood of terrible billboards to be found. I remembered a book written by somebody with the title “Japan a poor country, where there is only Consumption and advertisement”, and I did understand Erhard Schneider’s question. You are struck by flashy letters on big boards everywhere. He, having had an esthetic view on the Japanese characters (kanji), was disappointed, and probably this image was just destroyed in his heart. In Europe there are regulations preventing environmental damage in the respective areas, as the streets of a city or the outskirts. And no matter where you are going these regulations are being observed. In Japan the environmental damage done by city highways, which are in fact functional, is remarkable. Furthermore many people get used to this situation and become insensitive regarding the limits of placarding. When you travel abroad you will recognize for the first time, why environmental damage has progressed so far in Japan. In the region there are still some magnificent sites, but if fixing advertisements to telegraph poles will continue, weariness will be further increased.

Surely I am not worshiping Europe, but particularly concerning the European landscapes; there is no advertisement at all. Your heart will rejoice simply by beholding and you will strongly feel your own vital force. When we go into the nature we do not want to see any advertisements as a sign of urban civilization. It is because in doing so, the heart is being ignored. I want the beauty coming from nature and bestowing us vital power to be preserved.

Well, aikido is like the beauty of nature. It will take time and much effort to move without selfish movements, natural and extremely strong and elegant. When you according to this, without unreasonableness, become one with the ‘opponent’ free movements will become possible. I am proud that aikido, which is popular all over the world, is a martial art, that also contains the means to contribute to universal peace. It is said, environment has a major influence on human health.

Let us all work together, so that Japan will become a beautiful country.

© translated by Birgit Lauenstein and Peter Nawrot 07/2004