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Old Tradition and New Styles

It has been an interesting week in the news. Princess Ayako marrried Moriya Kei. I saw the report on television and the couple looked very happy. I thought that it was so wonderful that even though they are a young couple, they used many traditional elements in the wedding. Of course, it is not usual for someone in the royal family to marry an ordinary man, but maybe they will have a wonderful life together.

Maybe you have heard from older people that Japan will have a lot of trouble in the future. There are many older people and not so many younger people. Maybe you hear that older people worry that Japanese customs and art will not continue in the future because there are not enough younger people.

I think that the older generation has a good reason to worry. But, I also think that the next generation, your generation, will make good choices for the future. Some tradition will continue the same way, and some will change, and some will wait quietly for a few years and maybe grow again in the future.

For foreigners who come to Japan we are amazed at Japanese life, culture, and history. We are amazed with art like calligraphy, flower arrangement, kabuki, Noh, aikido, sumo, kyuudo, and shogi. We are interested in Japan art like ukiyoe, tea ceremony, kimono, and the ancient history of Japan. We love the music of Japan. We love the sounds of the koto, the shamisen, and the sanshin.

But art and culture change over time. The old people must give the art to the young people. The artists of the past like Hokusai and writers like Bassho do not live today, but there are new artists. Old musicians of the past do not live today, but we find people like the Yoshida Brothers.

So, in everything that is old and traditional, time comes and things change. The old and traditional will become the new and traditional. Old sports like sumo and karate will change to be modern sumo and modern karate. Old tea ceremony will change and become a new kind of tea ceremony. Old art will become new art. Old music will become new music. Old theater will become new theater.

I am a Canadian, so the history and culture of my country is very short. We do not have anything like Kabuki, Noh, and Rakugo. We do not have haiku and ukiyoe. We do not have tea ceremony, calligraphy, flower arrangement, and traditional music. We do not have kendo, iaido, or judo. We do not have the rich history and rich art of Japan. So, of course, we are very jealous.

Maybe you have received from your grandparents and your country some great gifts. You have wonderful gifts of culture, art, and history. So, you also have a responsibility to keep those things in your mind and heart, and to keep them safe and growing. How can your generation keep the great art and culture of Japan growing and changing?

Princess Ayako and Moriya Kei will take old traditions and make them new. Japan will continue to make art, and music, and theater, and history. There may be hard times coming, but the future will always have a great line of tradition and history. You will have to think about how to keep Japan’s culture and art new and fresh for the future.

I’m very interested to see how Japan will grow and change in the future. It is going to be great.