Respect

Limits, boundaries and respect

The picture above is of a common sight in Japan. It is a stick of bamboo placed low on the ground to mark an off-limits area. But if you do not respect it, there is no way it can keep you out!

The humble bamboo stick is called a kekkai, which means “barrier”.

Setting Limits

Barrier is a strong word.

Look it up is the dictionary. Various definitions include words such as “obstacle” and “hurdle”. Webster also defines it as “something that makes it difficult for people to understand each other”.

The Japanese word for barrier (結界, kekkai) is comprised of two kanji characters. The left side (結) means “to connect”. The right side (界) is the character for “the world”. It implies that a barrier is something which connects, rather than separates.

Respect, an Essential Element

When Japanese want to declare something off limits, they typically place a small, personal object in front of it.

Japanses-children-and-boundaries (kekkai)This picture to the right is of children being taught manners and respect for each other’s space by placing a fan—as a kekkai barrier—in front of themselves.

The “barrier” is simply meant to declare to the other children where their space begins. It teaches them how they can be together, while still respecting each others’ boundaries.

The picture below is from a tea ceremony class. The sensei (to the right) has placed a kekkai fan in front of her.

Boundary marker (kekkai) in Japanese tea ceremony

The implications of seeing a boundary as a connecting and not a dividing line can be significant.

If there is mutual respect, we do not have to erect impenetrable barriers to protect our personal space, whether physical or mental—a gentle reminder will do.

Yuri

Yuri

Yuri is a contributing editor for Miyazaki Whispers. She has graduate degrees from Ochanomizu University in Tokyo in Japanese classical arts and Yamaguchi University in nutrition and food science. Yuri’s interests are Japanese herbal science and yoga.
Yuri

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Yuri

About Yuri

Yuri is a contributing editor for Miyazaki Whispers. She has graduate degrees from Ochanomizu University in Tokyo in Japanese classical arts and Yamaguchi University in nutrition and food science. Yuri’s interests are Japanese herbal science and yoga.
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