The Other Side of Lost in Translation


Mu-En-Shi Lonely Death

A while ago,
I read some intersting article on the internet
about a little phenom that
a surprising number of TV viewers had been really moved
by the documentary aired by NHK(Japan's Public TV),
which was about "Mu-en-shi."
And it was reported that more than 600 entries about it
were written on their Blogs.

"Mu" means No, Not or Nothing.
"En" means Relations or Connections.
"Shi" means Death.
So "Mu-En-Shi(無縁死)" is a(Lonely)death
of the person who did not have any family or friends.

Actually, for the first time,
I have heard this word.
Usually "Kodoku-shi(孤独死, lonely death)"
has been used for this kind of occasion.
Also "Mu-En-Botoke(無縁仏)" is the commonly used word for
graves that no longer has any visiters
as their entire family members have died off.

According to its report,
about 35000 people die alone each year in Japan.
As the rising rate of divorce cases
and people staying single into their middle ages,
many people related themselves to this story.

Though I have not seen this program yet,
I have seen the similar documentary on PBS
about agents who work for the cases that
old people died alone in their New York apartments
and nobody came foward to take care of them
like what to do with the bodies and things left behind.
Probably Americans can accept things like this
better than Japanese as something inevitable in life
though they feel sad about it as well.

On the other hand,
Japanese are still not used to this
since they have had the society that
the collectiveness had been highly important.
Until like '60s, most of Japanese live within a large family,
three or even four generations under the same roof,
where they could get a plenty of Family support.
However, as the Japanese society grew wealthier,
many peope prefer to live in a nuclear family
as they do not want to be interfered
by their old parents too much.
One reason that Japanese used to live with a large family was
that they had to help each other to survive
especially economically.

This system that family members help each others
started to eloded '70s, even in '50s in the urban areas,
Since then Japanese yet have found
the supporting system to replace that.

Until like '70s,
for people who could not find their mates,
their parents found ones for the arranged marrige.
Though this convention still barely exists,
most of people of younger generations
choose their mates on their own.
However, there are always lots of people
who are too shy to do so, especially in Japan.
As Japanese education does not put much emphasis on
being a strongly independent individual,
expressing themselves freely,
or speaking out his/her mind publically,
Japanese tend to be more shy,
and some of them are too shy to meet their opposit sex.

Though people prefer to have a life style
with a minimum interferance by their family members,
this did not make peole less shy or more attractive to find someone.
So a large number of have been left out,
and many of them have turned out to be lonely Otaku(s).

On the other hand, In American culture,
people always had/have to find their mates on their own
besides exceptions of some minority groups' traditions,
If you cannot find one, you had/have to accept that.
And even though they seems to be never enough,
there have been many support systems like Churchs,
therapies and various support groups
out side of people's close families.

I think what Japanese have to learn and invent is
the new support system to replace the old tradition
of the collective-ness driven society.
Otherwise more and more Japanes will commit suicide
because of the loneliness.

Being a single without any relationship for a long time,
I accepted the notion a long time ago
that I would die alone someday
as it is something naturally to come for people like me.
But it could have been much harder to do so in Japan
as they may feel that it could be a shame to die like that
in the society that the collective-ness is very importnant,
also as a failure to raise a happy family,
which seems to be very essencial for human beings.
In other words, Japanese are afraid of being viewed
as a failure by other people when they die.

I will have a "MU-En-Shi."
Even though I do not say I will be happy to have one,
I feel a bit lucky to be living in the society
that people do not judge me much for that.


9 件のコメント:

  • ブルーさん、

    Sometimes when I read your blog, it's as if I'm looking in a mirror. It is sad to think you have simply accepted this as your fate, though. You cannot exist alone in isolation, like an island, my friend. Even I had to learn this lesson.

    Is it too much to say I hope for you? You continue to blog, and talk about these deeply personal topics...I cannot believe that in your soul you have completely given in. A part of you continues to reach out, yearns to touch and connect with the humanity in others. I know you haven't given up yet. Your words have touched a chord ... in me, in others... by virtue of the posts people leave you.

    So take heart, Blue. Sometimes, all it takes is the warmth of a smile.

    Anonymous ケン さんのコメント, 2010年3月2日 19:22 に投稿  

  • Thanks for your comment!
    I will comment on it later.

    Blogger blue さんのコメント, 2010年3月4日 4:06 に投稿  

  • Hi, I just found your blog today through your youtube channel page. And I found your channel page through a comment you made on a J-Vlog video.

    I know I'm commenting on an older post, but I fell my comment fits here the best.

    I'm a white man in my 20's over in Michigan. I've been partway through college, but I have not graduated and I do not have a degree. I'm currently unemployed but I do not know when I will find a job at this rate. I say that just so you can know a little about who I am and my perspective.

    I just want you to know that I appreciate the entries you've made into your blog here. I've read perhaps 10 or so of them. Like you, I too am close to being a NEET, so I can relate to you.

    I also agree with many of the things you've said in your postings. I believe that wherever a person goes on earth, many things are the same. Humans are so alike but they don't realize it. Lonely people like us will be lonely regardless of where we live in this world, and we are the only ones who can change ourselves.

    I hope that for your sake you are able to find a decent job soon, and I hope so for myself as well... alas, my words alone cannot help us with that.

    Still I wish you the best and will try to continue following your blog in the future.

    Anonymous 匿名 さんのコメント, 2010年7月5日 6:32 に投稿  

  • Thanks for your very kind words!

    I really hope you will find the way to finish your education. I only can guess how hard it could be to get your education on your own since I got the full support from my family for that. Especially as the education is ridiculously expensive now, probably there are tons of young people like you and some of them end up being in military only to lose their lives for the war for riches.
    But no matter how hard it is, you should not give up getting it. Though having it does not assure you to get a exciting job with a good pay, still it can provide you some self-esteem, and that's very important for people like you and me.
    If you are a popular person, it is easy to get verification about your existence from others. But if you are not, you have to find it from anywhere else.

    It is definitely not easy to find a job now, exactly same here. And in difficult times like this, many of us have a tendency to be weak, timid, negative and LAZY. I know that's what I am. But we have to keep on trying if we are not totally ready to give up everything or too timid to do so.

    Though I feel sorry for not being able to give you any wiser thoughts or any useful advices, at least I hope you can feel a little better to know it is not only you have to struggle to live a life.

    Looking back, I definitely got used to living an isolated life as it is a norm now for me not to talk to anybody for days. But still I am not completely alone. Though I have never got lots of friends, I still have a few, and a cat. Unfortunately we simply cannot live completely alone as we are animals of society. So never isolate yourself completely. Communicationg with others provides you not only consolation but also new inspirations to live a life.

    Well, saying about something better to do or thinking about something better to do is always much much easier than actually doing them. And many of us have a tendency to hide ourselves inside of our shells. And by doing so we make ourselves further isolated and more and more depressive. It is a sad cycle and I am in it right now.

    I keep you in my thoughts and really hope you to find the way and get more inspirations and motivations for your life wherever they come.

    Thanks again,
    and I try to update this blog, hehehe.
    Take good care!

    Blogger blue さんのコメント, 2010年7月6日 2:45 に投稿  

  • Good things happen to good people. That's what I really like to think. It seems utopic, but never give up hope. It's the one thing that carries us through tough times. With enough dedication and effort, you can overcome your loneliness.

    I bumped into your blog randomly via tokyocooney and wanted to say these words to you because I, too, resonate with your words of sorrow sometimes... Realizing the responses you've received in these comments, there are people out there who still care for you. I really want to hope that you get someone who will cherish you for who you are.

    You're right, we do live in a society where appearances matter, but I think that there's plenty of the kind of people who look beyond the book cover to find your real story.

    Best of luck, my friend.

    Anonymous 匿名 さんのコメント, 2011年9月9日 12:28 に投稿  

  • Thanks for your kindness!

    Too bad,
    I almost forgot about this blog.
    This really should be updated soon
    though I still keep writing on my other blog.

    So you found my comment among tons of them he got on his Vlong??
    If so, that's WOW!

    Blogger blue さんのコメント, 2011年9月10日 3:36 に投稿  

  • Hi, first of all excuse me if I have broken english or bad grammar or whatever thing I could be lacking, I don't speak english so... expect some mistakes.

    I won't say that I am like you but at the very least I understand what you're going through, it really is hard... I'm also a lonely person and know how it feels like, sometimes I even dream with having friends (as stupid, weird or funny as it sounds but it's the truth), I also like walking at nights sometimes and think a lot (I even like walking under the rain, I feel like I'm punishing my foolish me for wasting my life).
    I've just started reading some of your posts and I can tell you're having a harder time than me, you have been through this probably way more time than me too.
    I'm still young and I know I can still do something about this without thinking "I can't believe I wasted so much time", but it's easier said than done...
    Im afraid of time passing by and me STILL not doing anything about it.
    I won't say I'm happy that there is more people like me out there with my same problems and I'm not the kind of people to leave comments on blogs either (I only read) but for some people is a kind of relief knowing they're not the only ones with some specific problems so thats why I felt like commenting and letting you know this if it helps you for anything.

    This time I'm really serious, I made a "plan" wich I'll start following 1/1 next year including a lot of things I need to change or rather improve in myself and some things I'm going to do that I know will give me more chances to meet people. Hopefully I will be able to escape from this lonely life, make friends, finding that special someone and then make my dream come true... yes, I at least have a dream though it's kind of childish haha.

    So... blue pal, I encourage you too to think of a plan, make like a list of things you know you need to improve in yourself and posible solutions to each of them, then think of something to increase your chances of meeting people, everything else depends in you and only you.
    I'm probably more lazy than you (from what I've read so far in your blog I can tell I'm lazier) but you can kill laziness with having a motivation to do something, for example if you have a dream then go for it and think everything you're doing is for the sake of making it real (you must have a dream, if not then think about it).
    You also said you're negative, the only solution for negativeness I could think for myself was actually very simple: even if I don't make my dream come true I can rest in peace knowing that I tried my best. Now some people may think this solution is also negative since you're thinking in posible failure already but thats just it, I couldn't think a solution to completely cure being negative (and I think it's not posible to be negative in your life even once) so I figured I could just try to be as little negative as I could, and I came up with that "solution".
    Keep that up with anything else you know you need to improve and remember that if this is your plan then you have to actually DO IT and not just think about it.

    I'm trying to learn japanese (after japanese I wan't to learn chinese, then french and then... I'm a languaje maniac haha), I saw some "Gaijin" blogs for more info about japanese culture and stuff and then I thought what a foreigner japanese would say, thats how I found you're blog. Told you just in case you were curious.

    Well... thats it, like someone else said I too wish you luck and hope you find happiness, you seem to have endured a lot (enough of that!!).

    By the way whats the link of the blog you said you keep writting? thanks in advance.


    Anonymous 匿名 さんのコメント, 2011年11月8日 11:46 に投稿  

  • Thanks for your comment, Izac. I am a bit amazed by the fact people keep commenting something that I wrote a while go even I do not update this blog any more. Well, I will try to do that in the near future. I will comment on yout comment a little later.

    Blogger blue さんのコメント, 2011年11月9日 2:06 に投稿  

  • Hi izac, I agree with your idea, especially this part "even if I don't make my dream come true I can rest in peace knowing that I tried my best." I also think life is about trying to improve our lives and our surroundings because we were programmed like that. The happiness, or the feeling of that, is the reward for achieving of those improvements as we contribute to the human community and its future by doing so. But our lives are long and you can be lost during that time. If you keep failing to achieve what you have hoped for after years of trying, you might feel like wanting to give up and withdrawing from the world. But if you really do those, you can be depressd. Which is better, keep trying only to get frustrated more and feeling bitter, or giving up and hiding yourself to get peace in your mind, but depressed? It is a difficult choice. When you are young, you still have some youthful unreasonable hope/dream as you still have not experienced a true hardship of life yet. But after you have lived more than half way of your life, a disappointment and disillusion about life set in. And you have to find a way to deal with them too. But right now I feel much better than a year ago, and have been trying to meet more people, and also trying to improve other aspects of my life.
    Thanks for your kind words, izac!
    My other blog is in Japanese and I wonder if your Japanese reading ability is sufficient enough or not. If you think you can read, I can give you URL of it.

    Blogger blue さんのコメント, 2011年11月9日 13:00 に投稿  


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