Gaman (term)

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Translations of
Gaman
EnglishPerseverance
Japanese我慢
Glossary of Buddhism

Gaman (我慢) is a Japanese term of Zen Buddhist origin which means "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity".[1] The term is generally translated as "perseverance", "patience", or tolerance.[2] A related term, gamanzuyoi (我慢強い, gaman-tsuyoi), a compound with tsuyoi (strong), means "suffering the unbearable" or having a high capacity for a kind of stoic endurance.[3]

Gaman is variously described as a "virtue",[4] an "ethos",[5] a "trait",[6] etc. It means to do one's best in distressed times and to maintain self-control and discipline.[7][8][9][10][11]

Gaman is a teaching of Zen Buddhism.[12]

Analysis[edit]

Gaman has been attributed to the Japanese-Americans and others held in United States' internment camps during World War II[13] and to those affected by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan.[14] In the internment camps, gaman was misperceived by the non-Japanese as introverted behavior or as a lack of assertiveness or initiative rather than as a demonstration of strength in the face of difficulty or suffering.[15] Gaman and the related term yase-gaman are, in Japanese society, closely related to complying with conformity,[16][17] and silent heroism, which seems to be hidden pride for compensation for sacrifice[18][19] and be satisfied to pay reciprocal service in advance[20],or to be seen themselves as victims by folks[21][22]. Gaman toward authority, 'unquestioning obedience[23]' or 'blind obedience[24]', is supposed to be unfit to a healthy democracy.[25]

After the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, the resilience, civility, lack of looting and ability of the Japanese to help each other was widely attributed to the gaman spirit.[10] The 50–70 workers who remained at the damaged and radiation-emitting Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant despite the severe danger demonstrated what was regarded as gaman as well.[26]

Gaman is also used in psychoanalytic studies[27] and to describe the attitudes of the Japanese. It is often taught to youth and largely used by older Japanese generations. Showing gaman is seen as a sign of maturity and strength. Keeping your private affairs, problems and complaints silent demonstrates strength and politeness as others have seemingly larger problems as well. If a person with gaman were to receive help from someone else, they would be compliant; not asking for any additional help and voicing no concerns.[28]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Smithsonian, "The Art of Gaman", "Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946" Archived 2011-03-03 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "WWWJDIC". users.monash.edu. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ DeMente, Boye. (2003). Japan's Cultural Code Words: 233 Key Terms that Explain the Attitudes and Behavior of the Japanese, pp. 74–75., p. 74, at Google Books
  4. ^ "Japanese resilience shines in light of tragedy",CTV Ottawa (Canada), 19 March 2011; excerpt, "... "it can't be helped", as well as the virtue "gaman" which defies easy translation, ... "
  5. ^ Arnold, Wayne. "Enduring the unendurable", Business Standard (India). 15 March 2011; excerpt, "Experience with crises has shaped the Japanese ethos of "gaman" — "enduring the unendurable". Even after the March 11 disaster ..."
  6. ^ Jones, Clayton. "A nuclear meltdown in Japan? Not if these brave workers can help it", Christian Science Monitor(US). March 15, 2011; excerpt, "One noble trait that the Japanese admire is gaman. It is their word for the ability to persevere, endure, and overcome, with patience ... Japan may remember them for their gaman despite personal exposure to dangerous levels of radiation.
  7. ^ Shibusawa, T.: Japanese American Elders In: Kolb, Patricia J. (Ed.) (2007). Social Work Practice with Ethnically and Racially Diverse Nursing Home Residents and Their Families, p. 146., p. 146, at Google Books
  8. ^ Burns, Catherine. (2004). Sexual violence and the law in Japan, p. 51., p. 51, at Google Books
  9. ^ "A nuclear meltdown in Japan? Not if these brave workers can help it", Christian Science Monitor (US). March 15, 2011; retrieved 18 March 2011; Arnold, Wayne. "Enduring the unendurable",Business Standard (India), 15 March 2011; retrieved 18 March 2011
  10. ^ a b "U.S. troops exposed to radiation", Detroit Free Press (US), March 16, 2011; retrieved 18 March 2011; Lloyd, Mike. "Japanese remain calm while dealing with quake aftermath", Archived 2011-03-24 at the Wayback Machine Archived 2011-03-24 at the Wayback Machine National Post (Canada). 16 March 2011; retrieved 18 March 2011
  11. ^ "Japan as nuclear crisis worsens", Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine USA Today (US). March 17, 2011; retrieved 28 March 2011
  12. ^ West, Mark I. (2009). The Japanification of Children's Popular Culture: from Godzilla to Miyazaki, p. 4., p. 4, at Google Books
  13. ^ Japanese National American Museum, "The Art of Gaman: Enduring the Seemingly Unbearable with Patience and Dignity", March 2010; retrieved 18 March 2011; "Art by Japanese-American Detainees During World War Two Shows Their Struggle and Humanity", VOA News (US). May 18, 2010; retrieved 18 March 2011
  14. ^ Köhler, Nicholas and Nancy Macdonald with Jason Kirby. "Why the world is wrong to count Japan out", Maclean's (Canada). March 25, 2011.
  15. ^ Niiya, Brian. (1993). Japanese American History: An A-to-Z Reference from 1868 to the Present, p. 143., p. 143, at Google Books, citing Betty Furuta, (1981). "Ethnic Identities of Japanese-American Families: Implications for Counseling", in Understanding the Family: Stress and Change in American Family Life (Cathleen Gerry and Winnifred Humphreys, eds.), pp. 200–231, 212.
  16. ^ John W. Dower, War without Mercy, 1986, p. 230
  17. ^ Alan Macfarlane, Japan through the Looking Glass, 2007, p. 228
  18. ^ Lafcadio Hearn,Japan:An Attempt at Interpretation,1904,Dodo press,p.245,246,250,251
  19. ^ John W. Dower,War without Mercy,1986,p.132,133
  20. ^ Ruth Benedict,The Chrysanthemum and the Sword,1946,p.116,230,232
  21. ^ Takeo Doi,The anatomy of dependence,1971,p.129,130
  22. ^ John W. Dower,Embracing Defeat,1999,p.518,284(self-dramatization)
  23. ^ Lafcadio Hearn,Japan:An Attempt at Interpretation,1904,Dodo press,p204,243
  24. ^ Karel van Wolferen,the Enigma of Japanese Power,1989,p250
  25. ^ John W. Dower,Embracing Defeat,1999,p218
  26. ^ Mateo, Ibarra C. "Japanese show power of patience, stoic discipline amid triple crises", Philippine Daily Inquirer, 27 March 2011; excerpt, "Fueled by gaman ..., the workers did not abandon their posts even if it seemed suicidal to go on. They showed another Japanese trait: putting first their country, community and group over their individual concerns."
  27. ^ Johnson, Frank A. (1995) Dependency and Japanese Socialization, p. 181., p. 181, at Google Books
  28. ^ Burns, p. 51., p. 51, at Google Books; Kolb, p. 146., p. 146, at Google Books

References[edit]

  • Burns, Catherine (2004). Sexual Violence and the Law in Japan. New York: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0-415-33651-1.
  • Hirasuna, Delphine and Kit Hinrichs. (2005). The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 9781580086899; OCLC 494064406
  • Johnson, Frank A. (1995). Dependency and Japanese Socialization. New York: NYU Press. pp. 181. ISBN 978-0-8147-4222-8.
  • Kolb, Patricia J. (2007). Social Work Practice with Ethnically and Racially Diverse Nursing Home Residents and their Families. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-12533-8.
  • Niiya, Brian. (1993). Japanese American History: An A-to-Z Reference from 1868 to the Present. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 9780816026807; OCLC 26853950
  • West, Mark I. (2009). The Japanification of Children's Popular Culture: from Godzilla to Miyazaki. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810851214; OCLC 232786129

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]