Saturday, December 17, 2016

Etiquette of "Happy Masks"

He never shows his real face to me; he wears the mask of happiness as an etiquette.


Japanese Sensitivities

Sensitiveness exists in the Japanese to an extent never supposed by the foreigners who treat them harshly at the open ports. In Izumo I knew a case of a maid servant who received a slight rebuke with a smile, and then quietly went out and hung herself. I have notes of many curious suicides of a similar sort. And yet the Japanese master is never brutal or cruel. How Japanese can serve a certain class of foreigners at all, I can’t understand- Possibly they do not think of them (the foreigners) as being exactly human beings—but rather Oni, or at best Tengu.

Well, here is another thing. My cook wears a smiling, healthy, rather pleasing face. He is a good-looking young man. Whenever I used to think of him I thought of the smile, I saw a mask before me merry as one of those little masks of Oho-kumi-nushi-no- kami they sell at Mionoseki. One day I looked through a little hole in the shoji, and saw him alone. The face was not the same face. It was thin and drawn, and showed queer lines worn by old hardship. I thought ‘’he will look just like that when he is dead.” I went in, and the man was all changed—young and happy again—nor have I ever seen that look of trouble in his face since. But I know when he is alone he wears it. He never shows his real face to me; he wears the mask of happiness as an etiquette. — From
 the Correspondence of Hearn, in the Atlantic, 1909

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia