steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

The Fruits of Misunderstanding

Drama is conflict, so the saying goes; by the same token, intellectual argument is powered by misunderstanding - one of Earth's few truly renewable resources.

Just this morning I saw not one but two misinterpretations of things Japanese by Westerners. I mention this not to be smug, for I've done as bad and worse on many, many occasions, but because misinterpretation is productive in a way that pure understanding is not. Could anything be more fatal to conversation than complete agreement?

First, we have the Welsh YouTuber (now resident in Japan) CDawgVA (aka Conor) visiting Dreamton with Chris 'Abroad in Japan' Broad. If you want to know about Dreamton, then by all means check out the blog I made when I visited three years ago. It's a 'Cotswold village,' based in part on Castle Combe in Wiltshire. What was interesting was that Conor had somehow got the impression that it was meant to be a Welsh village, and thus judged everything he saw by whether it felt authentically Welsh or not. Interestingly, quite a lot did - although he was a bit bemused by the absence of Welsh dragons amid the superabundance of Union flags. A clincher seemed to be the name of the restaurant, the Pont Oak. 'Pont' of course is Welsh for bridge - but, as the owner of Dreamton explained to me three years ago, she called it that to mimic onomatopoeically the satisfying sound of something being placed (plonked, if you will) precisely in its correct position.

Then, this morning on the Facebook M R James Appreciation Group (where I am a keen follower) someone posted this ad, with the caption: "Ghosts for the Garden." What the ad shows, of course, are luminous versions (why??) of kodama, or tree spirits, as imagined in the Ghibli film Princess Mononoke. But yes, it's not hard to see how they could look like (cute) ghosts, if squinted at down the wrong end of a cultural telescope...
Tags: cotswolds project, nippon notes

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