‘Kokoro’, Harmony Between the Heart and Mind
Meaning ‘heart’, ‘mind’ and ‘essence’ alternately, this Japanese term bears a philosophical dimension unique to the country.
© Japan House
Shinzou, ha-to, kokoro… In Japanese, these three words refer to the heart, whether the physical organ or the feeling of love. However, the latter term also comprises the notion of the mind.
Its ideogram appears in the construction of Japanese words like ‘psychology’ and ‘anxiety’. ‘Kokoro has three basic meanings: the heart and its functions; the mind and its functions; and the centre, or essence’, states Shohaku Okumura, a Soto Zen priest.
An untranslatable expression
To the Japanese, the heart and mind prove to be intrinsically linked in the definition of kokoro. Historically, it derives from the terms kogori, kogoru and koru which signify a place where something doesn’t move, or the act of standing still in itself. This ‘something’ therefore represents the soul, sentiments and thought.
In Western languages, its translation is limited to one word, ‘mind’. ‘Kokoro is well understood in Japanese, but difficult to explain in English’, Sakiko Yoshikawa, director of Kyoto University’s Kokoro Research Centre, explained to Quartz.
Depending on its use, kokoro can be interpreted in several ways. For example, ‘your kokoro is weak’ would refer to mental strength, while the expression ‘put your kokoro into something’ would relate more to feelings.
The Tattoos that Marked the Criminals of the Edo Period
Traditional tattoos were strong signifiers; murderers had head tattoos, while theft might result in an arm tattoo.
Toulouse-Lautrec and His Japanese Influences
Inspired by his Japanese counterparts, the painter reinvented form and technique within his art and is indebted to printmaking techniques.
Recipe for Ichiraku Ramen from ‘Naruto’ by Danielle Baghernejad
Taken from the popular manga with the character of the same name who loves ramen, this dish is named after the hero's favourite restaurant.
A House Uniting Modernity with Okinawan Nature and Tradition
Atop a small hill in Nanjo City, Okinawa, there sits a large house with a concrete roof. It is the home-cum-office of Toshiyuki Igarashi.
Recipe for Green Tea Pudding by Emi Shimizu
Matcha is appearing increasingly more often on Western dessert menus, like in this creamy pudding that contains no dairy products.