education shrinks or shrines?

Shrinks or Shrines?

A 24-year old Japanese girl frantically enters a shrine and consults with a Shinto Priest about her decision to leave her boyfriend and move out on her own. She is here to ask for advice on the move. As her boyfriend cheated on her, the Priest agrees with her decision and begins his rituals in search for the divine truth. The Priest then stares her straight in the eye and asks, "In which direction from this shrine does your boyfriend reside?" The young lady replies, "North". He closes his eyes for a moment and says solemnly, "Move to the South". The girl sighs with relief and thanks the Priest for his guidance. She reaches into her bag, pulls out a few ten thousand yen notes, makes her donation and sets out to start her new life.

This is a common scenario here in Japan and this is how the Japanese have typically solved their problems. It makes good sense to me. If you want to get away from someone, move in the opposite direction. Throw in a little smoke and a ringing bell and it adds to the drama. The only thing I have against it is every time they ring the bell, I begin salivating.

Can this ancient system handle the highly complex problems of today's society in bustling Tokyo? Can superstitions and rituals help to reduce the rapidly increasing rates of divorce and instances of bullying in our public schools? Or will Tokyoites have to continue to resort to jumping in front of trains as a solution to their emotional and financial problems? The answer is obvious - western psychology.

Japanese society has become westernized. American film, sports, food, and fashion have seeped into the roots of society. Western culture influences business, education and the values of the Japanese. However, this has left Japanese society with severe problems and with few tools to solve them. Western society has been held together for the most part by law, Christian values and what is known as western psychology. As Japanese lack strong religious values and few consider themselves religious, society must rely on the custom of saving face to enforce adherence to morals and ethics. The Japanese alternative to psychological counseling is strict adherence to the "Gaman Theory". In other words, put up with your problem, don't discuss it and hope that someday it will go away.

Psychological and counseling services are far and few between. Many clinics in Japan which boast of having trained "therapists", or as I like to refer to these quacks as "the rapists", are simply drug stores which provide government discounts to those with health insurance. The majority of Japanese Mental Health Clinics delve out potentially harmful and addictive drugs as a solution for nearly any problem. According to one couple who recently visited a mental health clinic for marital counseling, the doctor listened to their story and then issued them a healthy stock of Valium to be taken whenever they run into difficulties.

It is my belief that over the next ten years, Japanese social problems will continue to escalate at an increasing rate. If the Japanese want to import western culture, they will have to face the problems that go along with this. It is therefore wise to import western solutions such as providing counseling services given by trained therapists. The problem here is that there are very few reputable clinics and although there are plenty of psychiatrists, there is a great need for trained therapists. When there is no longer a need for the Ekimae English Conversation School, we should replace them with Counseling Clinics but as the idea of visiting a Psychologist to deal with emotional problems is shameful to Japanese, Clinicians will have to promote themselves as Stress Therapists rather than Psychologists. For those educational administrators looking to offer a much needed educational program, might I suggest "Western Psychology 101". Hopefully, by offering more Psychology courses, Stress Therapy Clinics may not only put English Conversation Schools out of business, but they may also replace the Shinto Shrines as the place to go for spiritual cleansing. 

There are a handful of legitimate counseling organizations that are available here in Tokyo. I have listed contact information for a few of these organizations.

TELL Community Counseling Service
Itabashi-ku, Tokyo
English Life Line Tel: 03-3968-4099
Counseling Service Tel: 03-3968-4084
Offers counseling in English, Japanese, Spanish, French, etc. Flexible fee scale. Operates the Tokyo English Life Line for phone counseling by trained volunteers 365 days a year.

Inochi No Denwa
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-3263-5794
Japanese phone counseling service that has been in existence for many years.

Japan Growth Center
Nerima-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-3993-1648 (leave a message)
e-mail: [email protected]
Run by Dr. Katsumi Osuga, a therapist trained in Western Psychology by the legendary Carl Rogers, and Chinese Chi-Goung Therapy. Runs encounter groups and various other training and therapy sessions in English and Japanese.

Did you know . . . ?

. . . that it takes only one psychologist to change a light bulb? But first, the light bulb has to want to change.
(Source: Anonymous)



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