Have you heard of the word「品格」(hinkaku)? I can’t come up with a good English translation for it (my Genius Japanese-English dictionary gives me “style,” but it’s not quite right), but this past week I read two interesting books that made me rethink what it means to “be” Japanese or a Japanese woman with 品格—with style, baby.
Actually, let me take that back. A Japanese woman with 品格 would never say “baby” at the end of a sentence.「国家の品格」by 藤原正彦 (Kokka no hinkaku by Fujiwara Masahiko) and 「女性の品格」by 坂東眞理子 (Josei no hinkaku by Bandō Mariko) were published in 2005 and 2006, respectively, and they both discuss the proper emotions and etiquette that an upright Japanese person/woman should possess.
For example, we should learn to appreciate the beauty of nature. Or memorize and recite poetry from centuries ago. We should also have particular dishes that we are good at preparing, and we should also be skilled in choosing the proper gifts for our friends.
I’m not sure I agree with what Fujiwara and Bandō say (nor do I really want to work on my 品格 anyway), but it sure is good to think about what kind of 品格 I would like to cultivate on my own time. And I suppose it doesn’t hurt to learn what some people consider Japanese “style” while working on our Japanese language skills, too.