I was reading a book and saw Lafcadio Hearn described as a “Japanophile.” This seemed a strange way to describe him. The Latin root “Phile” means love. So a lover of Japan.
(If you don’t know who Lafcadio Hearn is, he was an esteemed writer and interpreter who was active around the turn of the twentieth century. He’s mega famous here in Japan. His famous book Kwaidan can be bought for free on the kindle. If you don’t have a kindle, it’s public domain and can be found on the internet.)
I suppose Lafcadio Hearn was a lover of Japan. I think the word, though, carries the connotation of somebody who loves Japan on a very superficial level, as a hobby. It’s kind of a nerd word–“Oh that Japanophile is into everything Japan.”
Japanese culture definitely was not a hobby for him. It was his career and his life. He contributed to western understanding of Japanese culture, and that should not be dismissed lightly.
So am I a Japanophile? A lover of Japan? Hmmmm…….
I married a Japanese man, but before I met him I wasn’t the least bit interested in Japan. It’s only because of him that I know anything about Japan. I don’t feel I love Japan more than other countries, it’s just where I live and therefore I know about it.
I consider myself more a Francophile. (Although not especially so. Not to an obsessive degree or anything.) I personally like the idea of wearing a beret and carrying a baguette under my arm and wearing smart clothes. LOL (I guess I could do that here in Japan. I definitely should.)
Have you ever seen the movie Breaking Away? It’s about a regular American boy in a small American town and he loves bike racing, and therefore Italy. (To an obsessive degree.) I don’t think this movie is watched much anymore, but it’s really a great family movie and it gives the viewer a lot to think about. Can you love another culture while retaining your own? Is loving another culture an odd and unhealthy thing, or a normal part of growing up?
If you get a chance to watch this movie, definitely do. And watch it with your kids!
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