I was heavear. With a full heart. Maybe because I woke up that morning hearing the heart mantra, maybe because I was finally able to catch a beetle before moving on to Kyoto. The last article was about generosity and I shared an activity that can be done with children from 5 -10 years old. Today I travel to Kyoto and the importance of tolerance. Kyoto, evan naming a stringent gas control protocol, is a very relaxed city. Her story required to be a city essentially tolerant. Tolerant to changes, to differences, to tourists and lifestyles. It began by being the capital of the empire, later Tokyo stoled her place. That´s why today they call it “Old Capital” and (although for me, Kyoto is more futuristic than ancient) the streets of Machyas – traditional houses before World War II – leave no doubt of its ancient wisdom. The city center is ordered according to Feng Shui, but the peripheral areas do not maintain the same standard, as if from the outset, Kyoto distinguished itself by its rebellion against the lines of traditional cities. Undoubtedly, when we travel we experience changes at various levels. In Japan, my biggest journey is on prejudices. And it was through art that I confronted myself with tolerance and with my Western prejudices. It was still in Tokyo, in the Manga and Animation stores of Akiabara, like the stores of Sonic, Dragon ball or Jay World where i felt again the adrenaline that only the fantastic world can give us. And that we stop using as we grow. These shops, contrary to what one would expect in the West are above all for Adults. It is through the animations of Manga that Japanese apreciate literature. The Books of Tankôbon occupy many shelves of bookstores, and Miyazaki with its Totoro movies is often sold out in cinema. It´s with a lot of color, fantasy and joke that they talk about adult issues approaching themes like science, romance that makes you cry or even ethical dilemmas or life philosophies.
It is inevitable to compare adult Japanese society with Portuguese one. And i wonder when did we learn that having leisure time, humor and flexibility (also in the physical level), was children´s issues and would compromise responsibilities of grown up people. Why being an adult seems to require a serious, heavy, bullying, and undoubtedly “knowing everything about everything” posture?
The art in Kyoto also led me to think about the womens role in general. In the streets of Kyoto there are still Geishas, many Geishas. And if there is something they are not, it is the equivalent of the prostitutes of the West, as the bad western languages say. Geisha is woman passionate about art: an excellent student of Japanese art, song and dance. Distinguished at a distance, by her costume, delicacy and status, the Geisha is someone who knows much about the culture of her country, an artisan. Often the Japanese themselves use their services, for that reason, to know more about their cultural roots. Being a Geisha is a life option that should be made early, when the young woman (around the age of 17) decide to join the Geisha school, and for that, she should have a savings account to pay for the school fees, the meetings with older Geishas, and buy her first kimono. All this In order to be able to dedicate her self to the entertainment life. Some geishas even earn up to 5000euros / apparition. But this is just one way of life.
Another way of life is the familly path. The Japanese women who go through family life. And unlike Western stereotypes, the woman who decides to devote herself to a family project is not submissive or self-reliant. In fact, the figures show that about 64% of Japanese women work, even on a part-time basis. Modesty and her self-sufficiency are something highly valued in this culture. Self-reliance, because the “Needy” woman is seen as a burden to others. Modesty and description will help to have a better sense of opportunity in relationship with others.
The family woman is someone who has enormous family and social power. The “koiko mama” – the mother who is responsible for the family budget, for ensuring that everyone is well and yet, that children perform well in school – is what they are commonly called. Besides that is someone who should contribute to the community life the neighborhood and therefore, volunteer for such. As Marta, a Portuguese friend married to a Japanese monk told me, “Perhaps here the great difference between the Japanese housewife and the Portuguese Housekeeper is the fact that there is an almost official and very great recognition when the woman makes the choice to be a house wife.
And as I look at the streets of Kyoto, I realize how many tourists women are passing by. I would say its the third big group in the city and undoubtedly, with a huge miscellany of languages, ages, cultures, families, cameras and life choices.
Some take unpaid leave to travel, other change their way of life, other even bring their children to show them the “World” and even those who save money to travel, even if only once a year: “For me, the most important thing is to see the world; change your perspective and feel that there are many ways to live, grow and feel, “said Anne, a 40-year-old traveler.
These realities are just a few that intersect in Kyoto. People who cross daily on city streets, in supermarkets or public transport, and at the end of the day sleep with a clear conscience. If there is anything that Japanese society is not, it is moralistic or judgemental.
Tolerance is a fundamental attitude for those who live in society. A tolerant person accepts opinions or behaviors different from those established by his social environment, without judgments or moralities.
What about Portugal? are we tolerant?
How do we know if someone is different from us? It is the question I ask the children in order to understand what they feel about tolerance and what kind of tips on respect they can give us.
The 8-year-old Diogo replied “It’s by the look. But if they are twins, by the posture”. The five-year-old Daniel said: “because we have different things in the body … but I do not understand much of that part … Then added” But I think we can, show respect, by making agreements. ”
Miguel, 6, said it was for the flavors “Some people like the other and this one may like or dislike the first”.
In Japan, 8-year-old YeChan and 5-year-old ShizukoChan, 6-year-old Yuki and 7-year-old Caiu did not know how to answer this question. Only 7-year-old YuChan told me she should be … like her and her twin sister. Her sister is very good at ballet and she’s just a chopstick expert.
And only 15 interviews later I understood why only Yo had been able to answer “If you ask me what we have in common, it’s easier, but if it’s different … I do not know …” she told me.
Sohei, a painter friend also explained to me, what I now understand as the basis of tolerance: “If I focus in the differences of who is in front of me, i will distance myself from him/her, if on the other hand, I try to identify what we have in common, I finally come to the point that we are human, with the same fears, the same acceptance need , to feel safe, with the same desire to be happy and afraid of not being able to, and because we are the same species, it is worth looking at him/her in an unique way and putting into practice my responsibility to respect that person “.
According to the study published by Jornal Público in 2016, Portugal was the third country in Europe that was most opposed to welcoming immigrants. Even though we know that about 1.2 million people seek protection in Europe (number higher than in World War II). Even if cultural tolerance is one of the values of Portuguese Democracy.
I admit i was shocked and I also believe that we must be more and more tolerant towards difference, less moralistic in general, and that tolerance, empathy and compassion are the keys to ending wars in the generation of our children.
So I leave you one activity that can promote tolerance in your children.
1. Picking up magazines or old newspapers from home, the child must choose images (parts that constitute a face, nose, mouth …) to cut and build a face. Then they should choose the images they like best and use them to make a mask through collages on a sheet that will serve as portraits.
2. Do a multi-cultural dinner and serenade: Choose a continent and then a country, decorate the house with elements of that country, make a food that represents it and show the child how to play (eg Asia: mount a TiPi, and to dinner show how you eat with chopsticks, for example). I can also take the opportunity to suggest adult to practice his tolerance at home and to tolerate the “today we eat as we want” day the meal is chosen by the children and the way they eat as well (by hand, at the table without dishes … yes, sorry for the mess! !)
3. As a family, everyone must identify the differente and simillar characteristics of each one and say why each is important to the group.