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Old 19th April 2010   #1
Emily
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Default Reki-jo: the History Girls

Whenever discussions of the emerging appreciation of timeless femininity come up, the hope is always expressed that by rediscovering the beauty ideals of history, young people will develop an appreciation of the ideals of the past in general -- the values and principles of pre-20th-century eras, which were invariably superior to those of today.

This may actually, finally, be happening.

Numerous posts on this forum have noted the Japanese veneration for the beauty of the past -- particularly in the form of Victorian-inspired "Lolita" fashions. Well, a new trend among young women in Japan has them learning to venerate their heritage:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/...oryId=125898462

The most significant portions:

Quote:
For Japanese Women, the Past is the Latest Fad

April 13, 2010

by Anthony Kuhn


In Japan, the number of female visitors to shogun castles, samurai battle re-enactments and history bookstores has recently increased. Observers attribute this to the rise of the "history girls" — a new urban subculture that some believe signals a kind of empowerment for female Japanese hobbyists.

One of the more public faces of the history girls, or reki-jo, is a fashion model named Anne. She's the daughter of actor Ken Watanabe, and she goes by one name. She's carved out a niche for herself writing and speaking about history and history buffs.

Reki-jo all have their favorite historical periods and characters. Speaking in a Tokyo cafe, Anne says hers is the Shinsengumi, the elite swordsmen of Japan's last shogun, or military ruler.

"The Shinsengumi is popular among Japanese girls because its members are all young, in their teens to early 30s," Anne says. "They changed Japan. The interesting part of their era is that we can see some photos of them, so we can imagine them better and feel closer to them. This history gives courage to young people today."

In TV dramas, the Shinsengumi are all played by popular, young male actors.

The reki-jo idolize these historical figures like rock stars.

Ryo Watanabe (no relation to Anne) is one of the media and marketing entrepreneurs who has helped build the reki-jo phenomenon. He created music, a Web site, TV shows and a bar where they can congregate. Watanabe says that history girls populate both virtual and actual worlds.

"The virtual ones just play games and follow individual characters," Watanabe says. "The real ones start with games, but they also do research, read books and visit historical sites. These are the real history girls."..

This really is quite exciting, especially because these young women are not focussing on the politically correct aspects of their heritage, but are celebrating truly nationalistic elements, like "the elite swordsmen of Japan's last shogun, or military ruler" (!).

Consider what a refreshing alternative this is to the interests of Hollywood-brainwashed America, where young people obsess over empty, vacuous role models like actresses and celebrities and rappers.

The article notes that these girls "idolize these historical figures like rock stars," but the pertinent point is these historical figures are not rock stars. They are aristocratic heroes, men of principle, and these young women are thrilling to their unmodern values.

The girls' activities are also quite sophisticated. As the article notes, they "also do research, read books and visit historical sites."

Imagine if such a "trend" were to develop in the West, with young girls rediscovering their Old World roots, reconnecting to their European heritage. It could lead to a true cultural revival.

I envy the Japanese that they still have so much vitality in their culture. And it's very telling that this is the latest development of a cultural fascination with the past which began with a focus on timeless beauty. One can only hope that this site's promotion of the Classical aesthetic can help lead to a similar cultural reawakening in the West.
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Old 20th April 2010   #2
Kristina
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Default Re: Reki-jo: the History Girls

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emily
Imagine if such a "trend" were to develop in the West, with young girls rediscovering their Old World roots, reconnecting to their European heritage. It could lead to a true cultural revival.

What about those of us who love Jane Austen? And then there are the Medieval and Renaissance re-enactors, the SCA...
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Old 21st April 2010   #3
Tamika
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Default Re: Reki-jo: the History Girls

This is an absolutely fascinating phenomenon that one hopes will soon develop in the West. In the past, youth movements have been predominantly about rejecting the past and rebelling against history; here, however, we have a group of female youths who seek to reconnect with the history of their culture. How exciting. If a similar movement gained momentum in the West, it could have an exceedingly positive influence on our culture.

What's more, in relation to the recent thread on a revival of traditional masculinity as a compliment to feminine beauty, some writers have expressed the idea that a portion of the followers of the reki-jo movement may be looking to the samurai culture of the past as an example of ideal masculinity. Many mainstream male celebrities are effeminate metrosexuals, and it is an interesting thought to ponder that perhaps part of the appeal of Japan's history for the reki-jo is to revive traditionally masculine and noble characteristics which are lacking from modern society.

http://www.rjkoehler.com/2010/01/05...-ladies-prefer/

This post expresses the following in relation to the possible motivations of some of the reki-jo:

Quote:
...many Japanese women are now looking for men who exhibit stronger characteristics demonstrated in … Japan’s past. In what could be a tacit revolt against the rise of “girly” and “wimpy” men of Japan’s pop culture, many of today’s Japanese women are looking to the past for inspiration.

Today’s Japanese young ladies are looking to the samurai warriors of old as an example of men who exhibit the “strong” characteristics they often see lacking in today’s men.

What a fascinating idea. These young ladies, dissatisfied with the modern skewering of traditional masculinity, look to the past for ideals that they can promote in their lives.

Isn't that exactly what the Judgment of Paris is doing? We're taking the best of the past and using it to develop an exciting and positive future, one in which traditional values and ideals are restored to their former glory.

Already we can see evidence of this emerging in our culture. The lolita fashion subculture is rising in prominence amongst Western girls who want to rediscover the elegance of the past. Related movements, like steampunk and neo-Victorianism, are gaining more momentum. Slowly, little traces of the culture of the past are leaking into mainstream consciousness. Reactions to the harsh Modern aesthetic imposed upon us, and the ideals that it accompanies, are already taking place- and it can't happen soon enough.

One can only hope that a parallel to the reki-jo movement takes hold in our own countries. Perhaps then, as more young people become aware of the virtues that modern society has thrown away, our culture can finally change for the better.
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Old 21st November 2010   #4
HSG
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Default Re: Reki-jo: the History Girls

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamika
some writers have expressed the idea that a portion of the followers of the reki-jo movement may be looking to the samurai culture of the past as an example of ideal masculinity. Many mainstream male celebrities are effeminate metrosexuals, and it is an interesting thought to ponder that perhaps part of the appeal of Japan's history for the reki-jo is to revive traditionally masculine and noble characteristics which are lacking from modern society.

What Tamika postulates is absolutely correct. The modern degeneration of society into an androgynous form has nearly eradicated true femininity, but it has also undermined traditional masculinity. Whereas in another time men were warriors and heroes, now they are effete wastrels, devoid of any sense of dignity, or honour, or nobility.

It wasn't always thus.

While we envy Japan for the reki-jo veneration of its warrior past, the West too has a grand tradition of masculine values that deserve celebration.

The great heroes of Northern Europe were strong and courageous and self-sacrificing in like measure as their beloved sweethearts were soft and delicate, needy and vulnerable.

These days, women have no one better to idolize among the male "luminaries" of postmodern culture than adolescent actors or pusillanimous pop stars. But in the early part of the 20th century, young women would thrill to the derring-do of men like the "Red Baron," Manfred von Richthofen, the famous air ace of World War I, who fought to protect his homeland from foreign invasion by single-handedly duelling the enemy in the skies. Women throughout Germany swooned over him. But far from dallying in female company, he remained focussed on the desperate struggle of his nation with steely resolve, and ultimately died a warrior's death--a true hero.

Today, makeup-wearing rock singers drone on about the trivialities of life. The real men, the men of another time, however, composed very different verses. These days, when one thinks of "poetry," one imagines doggerel about daffodils. But in a time of true masculinity, a poem was something that a soldier wrote in his own blood on the battlefield as he lay dying from his wounds.

The latter contrast isn't even an exaggeration. It literally happened. The great Prussian poet Theodor Körner composed stirring war poetry which inspired his fellow soldiers and gave them courage to fight on against the French tyrant Napoleon. Körner did, in fact, die in combat, writing poetry in his own blood as his life ebbed away.

One of his most famous verses, the heroism and audacity of which measures up to anything that the reki-jo might celebrate, is called "Lützow's Wild Band":

What gleams through the woods in the morning sun?
Hear it nearer and nearer draw!
It winds in and out in columns dun,
And the trumpet-notes on the roused winds run,
And they startle the soul with awe.
Should you of the comrades black demand--
That is Lützow's wild and untamed band.

It tells of a small unit of Prussian soldiers--freedom fighters--who valiantly engage the French soldiers in combat, drive them back across the Rhine, and liberate Prussia, even as the cost of their lives.

Where the vineyards flourish, there roars the Rhine;
There the tyrant thought him secure;
Then by thunder-crash and lightning-shine
In the waters plunges the fighting line;
Of the hostile bank makes sure.
Should you of the swimmers black demand--
That is Lützow's wild and foolhardy band.

The final stanza is one of the most stirring passages in German poetry, and as thrilling an expression of traditional masculine values as has ever been penned:

The wild, fierce band and the Teuton band,
For all tyrants' blood athirst!--
So you who would mourn us, be not unmanned;
For the morning dawns, and we freed our land,
Though to free it we won death first!
Then tell, at your grandsons' rapt demand:
That was Lützow's wild and unconquered band!

Dying for a principle. Sacrificing their life for their Fatherland, for the safety of their sweethearts, for the preservation of their national culture. Boldly running into the jaws of death for honour. These Old World ideals are the essence of manhood. They have been defamed or suppressed in our modern culture, where simpering Slave Morality has been imposed at the expense of the aristocratic morality of the past. Yet the human heart still yearns for them.

In the German city of Leipzig there stands a 91-meter-tall monument called the Völkerschlachtdenkmal, in the forum of a colossal, megalithic tomb. It stands on the ground of the Battle of the Nations, where Napoleon met his greatest defeat (far more crippling than Waterloo, which was a mere coda), at the hands of Prussia and its allies.

Click to enlarge

The monument is crowned with a ring of statues of soldiers holding their swords before them, ever vigilant, facing in all directions, ready to protect the Fatherland from enemy invaders. As statues go, this is to masculinity what the Venus de Medici is to femininity--a perfect sculptural representation of traditional, noble, masculine values.

Click to enlarge

Just as the Cultural Marxists and their allies have defamed femininity in the modern age, so have they attempted to suppress traditional masculinity. But despite the cultural degeneration that the alien ideologues have wrought on society, the possibility of renewal is ever present. These natural identities, the softly feminine and the valiantly masculine, live on in the human heart. And today, after a century of androgynous emptiness and pointless gender conflict, the public is ready to recover these timeless traditions and embrace them once more.

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