Wasabi Stories vol.49: “The Essence of Manner is LOVE”


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“The Essence of Manner is LOVE”

Today’s story teller is a “manner designer”, Noriko Iwashita.

The story is when she taught manner to school children and junior high school students at a workshop as a part of a company’s project to contribute to society by providing farm experience to children.


During dinner time, they sat on theirs heels on zabuton (Japanese flat cushion) , but because the children weren’t used to sit on zabuton right, they stepped on zabuton first, and then folded their legs.

According to Iwashita, the basis of manner is “love”, and when the English word “love” first introduced to Japan, it was translated “precious”.

Iwashita explained to the children, “manner is to treat people and things preciously, so you can’t step on zabuton.”

She showed how to sit right on a zabuton.


“Sit behind the zabuton or entrance of the room first, and slide up to the zabuton.”

Watching how she slid up on a zabuton, children went “Cool! Can we see it again?”

Another thing she noticed was that children opened and closed a fusuma (Japanese sliding door divides rooms) while standing.


She told them, “In a Japanese room, eye level is an important tool to measure the relationships of the people in the room. If you opened a fusuma while standing, you look down on the people who sit in the room. It is considered rude, so you have to sit when you open and close the fusuma.”

“Think about jidai-geki (period drama). Only a master opens fusuma while standing and other family members and servants sit and open.”


Right after they listened to her explanation, they started to sit to open fusuma.

Lately, Japanese rooms are getting fewer even in Japan.

People live in houses without tatami mats.

That is why she wants children to take over Japanese traditions.

The NIKKEI Jun/6/2009 by Noriko Iwashita (Manner designer)


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