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Tenno Heika Japan is a society whose culture is steeped in the traditions and symbols of the past Mt Fuji the tea ceremony and the sacred objects of nature revered in Shintoism The most important tradition and symbol in Japan the Emperor endured through Shogunates restorations of imperial rule and up to the present day The leaders of the Meiji Restoration used these traditions to gain control over Japan and further their goals of modernization The institution of Emperor has declined in recent decades due to its conflict with democracy western thought and religion These perceptions are vital to understanding different peoples reactions to the death of Hirohito as described in Fields book In the Realm of a Dying Emperor For example in the Japanese papers two relatively unfamiliar words entered the national vocabulary toketsu and geketsu 1 These words more or less mean vomiting blood and rectal bleeding and were being used by the media to refer to the condition of the Emperor Later journalists assessing the media coverage of the Emperors illness and death observed that the use of the word geketsu was tantamount to a second human declaration 2 This shows me that many people believed the Emperor to be human while others still thought of him as god-like Also when his death occurred almost every newspaper in Japan referred to Hirohitos death as a hogyo This is a term used only for the most holy of people This contradiction in thought is how many Japanese operate on a daily basis Some Japanese are rightist some leftist and others incorporate both in daily living In the Japanese nineteenth century an imperial system refurbished to serve as potent symbol for unchanging tradition was harnessed to an economic transformation envisioned initially without but subsequently within a cosmos defined by the terms of Western modernity 3 The Meiji leaders had realized that they needed to harness the concept of the Imperial Will in
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