Before the commencement of the Olympic Games in Beijing, some Japanese were concerned about anti-Japanese sentiments among the Chinese, that their athletes might be booed and taunted in the competitions, and that the Chinese audience might refuse to pay proper respect to their national flag and anthem.
None of these problems has materialized. Instead, the Chinese-Japanese interaction during the Olympics is dotted with symbols of conciliation.
During the opening ceremony, in the March of the Nations, each member of the Japanese team waved a Japanese flag and a Chinese flag in one hand, pressed together, at the audience. Fukuhara Ai (福原愛) was the flag bearer of the Hinomaru. Ai-Chian spent a significant part of her formulating years in the Northeastern city of Shenyang (in the heart of the old Manchuria) for Ping Pong training, and acquired native-level mandarin with a sweet Northeastern accent. She played in Chinese provincial and national tournaments and has a significant Chinese fan base. Did anyone hear her Chinese fans chanting “小爱加油” during her matches?
In the artistic performance of the opening ceremony, the giant Chinese character harmony (和) was displayed with human formation covering the entire floor of the National Stadium. How did the Japanese instinctively react to this Kanji at the subconscious level? Harmony (和) is in the Kanji representation of Yamato (大和), which is embedded deep in the core of the Japanese identity, historically, anthropologically, and mythologically. Director Zhang Yimou had not designed this part of the show with the Japanese in mind; harmony within the Chinese society and with the rest of the world was the show’s key message. Still, harmony (和) is a conflation of shared values of the two East Asian cultures.
Ai-Chian Gambari！Gambari Nippon!