The word that provoked me in Japan was “anone”. It’s a Japanese word. This is how it sounds. „anono “. Yes-no if I translate to English. It means nothing and is just an unnecessary introduction to speech. Something like “mm” or “eee”. But the question – Is it yes or no? – always came to my mind. I don’t know if you know, but sometimes it’s hard to get a clear Yes or a clear No from the Japanese. Especially with the No they have a problem. They do everything possible so that they do not have to disappoint the other person and close the road. Nice nonsense is much acceptable and more pleasant to them. So that they don’t have to say yes or no, they will sometimes say the “anone” and then try to describe the matter. They leave on things to present themselves and wait for the listener to guess. Until he or she gives self an answer. The speaker is a little exempted from responsibility and it irritated me. For example, when I wanted to buy shoes, chose which I liked, told my size, waited for the saleswoman to bring me the shoes, and she, even though she knew from the beginning that they did not have the given size, did not tell me so because she could not say from the beginning „No “. It seemed rude to her. She preferred to nod and went in vain at least five times to see if the shoes would show up somewhere in the back shelf. Then I said thank you and left. That’s the way it is in Japan. Neither yes nor no.
Of course, the Japanese do not know at all that the Czech yes (ano) is consent and no (ne) disagreement. In Japanese, yes is said “hai” and no is said “iie”. But even if they knew, they would say anone and not change their style of interpersonal communication. They like it when a little love and taste is mixed into human expression. They like it when the logic of things is a bit suppressed for a while. Unspecified and uncertainty – in Japanese aimai, is welcome. But for me, it expressed a mysterious infinity with vague shadows. In the unknown Japan, I wanted to know what I was up to. Their aimai culture irritated me. But I know now with gratitude that it also raised me.
Why do I mix love and even taste in the aimai idea? I will explain. The word aimai consists of two characters.曖昧. The latter means “taste” similar to food. 味. And as we all know, it’s different for everyone. “No disputant against taste.” The sign for “ai” 曖is synonymous with the word love 愛, and even part of that sign itself contains a notation for love. Added to it is a radical that means sun or day.日. I may be a bit of a speculator and linguists would laugh at me, but I put it all together in my mind and writing the word „aimai “is a loving lesson for me. I know that words in a language have their justification and can contain the deep truth about human life. I remember how squarish and puritan I was in my twenties. I knew in advance how things should be. The Japanese were scared of me. It was a good thing that their provocative „anone“was a reminder to me that I should think about my black-and-white world of Yes or No and doubt it a bit.
Yes, I was often more Japanese than the Japanese. You slide easily into it. For example, in the school canteen at the ICU (International Christian University), I never took a bowl of tofu when I chose Italian spaghetti to eat that day. The Japanese students had no problem with that. But I was sick of their choice. How can they, I thought? It took me quite a while to calmly add the Japanese soup mishoshiru to the western like meatball or croquettes on my tray. The funny thing is, how reluctant I was to bite the lettuce leaves in half and put the rest back in the bowl. I imagined a bitten dumpling that would be back on a plate. When a bite didn’t fit in my mouth, I left it on my plate uneaten. Of course, over time, I understood that even the Japanese eating without slicing knives can be done very elegantly. But that’s what the Tea ceremony and its etiquette taught me.
I think that anyone who really wants to know the Japanese soul and the Japanese table etiquette and fall in love with it, they should look closely into the secrets of the Japanese tea art, Tea ceremony, Chanoyu. Being a guest is extremely instructive, that is, if you accept the humble position of an attentive and grateful companion. And it is in the Tea ceremony that you will understand that in the middle of all the rules, of which there are thousands, in the end, an inconspicuous „anone “with its „aimai“ energy rules. In the relationship between host and guest, it is primarily a matter of mutual friendship and satisfaction. Every little thing is ultimately subject to their reciprocity. Just as it is subject to every human-to-human encounter.
I am therefore sending you a message of „aimai“ for your holiday days. Let people and things affect you, even if you can’t put them on your old scales and rules. The holidays are here so that we can experience what we don’t experience other time. So, let love and good taste accompany you!