The Universal Appeal of the Japanese Concept of Ma Cover Image

The Universal Appeal of the Japanese Concept of Ma
The Universal Appeal of the Japanese Concept of Ma

Author(s): Yamanashi Makiko
Subject(s): Studies of Literature, Other Language Literature, Philology
Published by: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego
Keywords: ma; civilization; modernity; Japonisme; transculturality; Japanese art and theater
Summary/Abstract: The Japanese concept of ma is an abstract and complex notion which constitutes an essential aesthetic attitude present in the Japanese society and culture. It has been well-developed as an aesthetic notion in the Japanese visual and performing arts tradition. It has played an important role in Japanese modernization since the bunmei kaika, which is when many Western influences started to take hold in Japan and impact the everyday lives of the Japanese people. While the West adopted ma as a Japanese artistic sensitivity within the trend of Japonisme, Japanese culture also sought out a new equilibrium in ma and used it as a means of balancing foreign and domestic factors. These processes led to the simultaneous creation of a sense of modernity on both sides of the globe. This paper investigates the Japanese notion of ma that overcomes the dichotomy between opposing components and helps to connect the differences by crossing borders of conflicting cultural codes instead of separating them. Furthermore, analyzing modernity by using the concept of ma enables us to connect Japanese culture of the past and present, and to generate through this process a unique ‘Japaneseness’ which at the same time has a certain universal validity. If the civilization of our times becomes focused on increasing the unity and balance of transculturality, the idea of ma might still contribute to world civilization.

  • Page Range: 153-173
  • Page Count: 21
  • Publication Year: 2023
  • Language: English