Thursday, September 02, 2010

Anime Word of the Week - Yamato Nadeshiko (大和撫子)

Yamato Nadeshiko (大和撫子)

...the Japanese ideal for a woman, being humble and skilled in domestic matters.

Yamato Nadeshiko is a complex Japanese concept meaning "personification of an idealized Japanese woman" - "ideal" in the historical context of the patriarchal, traditional culture of Japan. This floral metaphor combines Yamato (an ancient name for Japan) and nadeshiko (Dianthus superbus: large pink or frilled pink carnation) literally translated as "Japanese Dianthus".

The term is often defined as figure of speech for the beauty of Japanese women who are neat and tidy. Per Confucianism, it revolves around acting for the benefit of the family and following instructions or acting in the best interest of patriarchal authority figures. Virtues include: loyalty, domestic ability, wisdom, and humility.

Today, in most cases, the term "Yamato nadeshiko" is used in the context of nostalgia, referring to Japanese women with "good old" traits, as they are critically endangered.

Western Anime fans often mistake this type of characterization as a sort of 'doormat' type, but this is a very ignorant assumption. The nadeshiko is a 'wildflower'. A properly crafted Yamato Nadeshiko will show a subtle, but present 'touch of iron' in that she is unwilling to let circumstances hurt the ones she cares about or distract her from her goals. This is often accomplished very subtly. Older Yamato Nadeshiko are better at this, while a younger one will make up for it in determination - especially when it comes to the man she loves, because that trumps every other consideration.

Some Anime characters that are said to personify examples of Yamato Nadeshiko include Tsubaki from Soul Eater, Yakumo Tsukamoto from School Rumble (who exists as a sort of deconstruction of the concept), Sawako Kuronuma from Kimi ni Todoke, Ruka Souen from Vampire Knight, Belldandy from Ah My Goddess (after all, if she wasn't the universe would cease to exist), Cherry from Saber Marionette J (who is also a Tsundere), Juli Mizrahi from Xenosaga, and of course - my personal all time favorite and the best example of them all - the beautiful Aoi Sakuraba from Ai Yori Aoshi. Kaoru Hanabishi is one of the luckiest men alive - even if he is an idiot sometimes.

More information on this complex concept can be found in the sci.lang.japan FAQ.

1 comment:

Guardikai said...

Right, I've signed up for a google account so I can post because i'm enjoying these posts far too much now. The cornerstore emails are always informative and I devour them happily but this is a really nice bonus. Plus, since I love ai yori aoshi, I'm really happy to have found an amv of it set to when you say nothing at all. Cheers Robert.

For older but craftier iron examples of this - would the grandmother from Summer Wars count? Also perhaps Eruru from utawarerumono?