[Book Passage That Left an Impression] Nakagami, Japan: Buraku and the Writing of Ethnicity (M2 Lian)

Konnichiwa! This is M2 Lian Castillo, this will be my final blog entry as a master's student for University of Tokyo/Yamauchi Laboratory. Time flies and parting is such sweet sorrow. My book excerpt will be of personal significance, but may also be relatable to people from all walks of life.

Last year on my second semester as M1, I took some number of elective courses to cover for delaying 2 of my major subjects for the succeeding school year. With this, I took on ITASIA125: South and East Asia Compared, wherein we discussed various "caste type" systems within India and Japan. That of which is the Burakumin community- the untouchables, if you will. As such, in a very academic manner, one passage that appropriately describes /left an impression/ to me is the following from which I took a photo of on said date:

[05/21/2016] Time of Reading:

Nakagami would describe how his family spent the money for school supplies "given by the city, or the prefecture, or the country" for their daily needs. He describes being asked at school to draw a picture with a crayon and realizing his mother didn't know that was part of the school curriculum. He raced home to get money to buy crayons, and, when it came up short at the stationary store, the elderly shopkeeper let him have the crayons at a discount. He writes that from that day forward, the "cheap crayon" is the stuff his literature consists of, even to the present day.

Wherein I respectively captioned: Struggle is beautiful.

This passage is an excerpt from one of my assigned readings on Japanese Buraku author, Nakagami Kenji. It is quite a long passage in itself, but I deeply appreciated how a simple narrative could draw together a very vivid account of how we should not play victims to circumstance. Rather, the constant and upward progress towards a better standing is something that is truly even more so, deeply admirable.

I would like to supplement this stance with a famous quote from Pokmon: The First Movie, quoting Mewtwo:

I see now that the circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.

In the context of the movie, it relates less on a person's socio-economic status, birthright, or any of the seemingly worldly attributes. It was a basic trope on an entire race (Pokmon) versus the humans, who are at their worst are cruel, vicious, and malicious. However, in their humanity and imperfections, they are unpredictable with the other end spectrum: kindness, empathy, and altruism- all complement the darkness that encompass the world.

From the utterly real unfairness of things, the burakumin, down to the representation through anime, my point goes down to embracing the colorfulness of our experiences. There will be ups and there will be downs, but the contrast between the two will makes the ups all the more worthwhile. Being born with privilege might make one not want for much, but throughout my studies coupled with rich life experiences, I find that people who have something to yearn for are at their maximum fulfillment.

Conclusively, dear reader, I leave with the message that whatever your dreams and aspirations may be, keep peace with yourself. Never compare your progress with that of others, and be proud of the little things that you have accomplished- for one day, we will look back and see that they were the big things.

For one last time, signing off
Lian Sabella Castillo