By Steve Purdom, MD (Type 3, SP/1:1/SC)
Sandra Maitri is a well-respected enneagram teacher. In her book “The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram”, she described Japan as a Type 4 country. I understand clearly her reasoning. The Japanese find beauty in everything. However, as I stated in the previous article, I think Japan’s dominant type is type 6 and type 4 is second in importance. The most helpful aspect of determining an individual’s enneagram type is their motivation. That is not possible for a country and therefore I have based my comments on my observations of Japanese behavior over the past 30 years.
So why do I think that Japan’s second most dominant behavior is Type 4? They are consumed with the beauty and elegance in the arts and have expanded the arts to multiple phases of everyday life. Calligraphy is a great example. The simple art of handwriting has been elevated to a high art form.
Then in clothing there is beauty. Formal kimonos and wedding kimonos in particular are an art form.
Japanese workmen’s clothing has its own unique style. The latter has been adopted by western designers.
When Mika and I walk on Omotesando Street, there are numerous young people dressed in long, flowing black clothing. I describe them as “uniquely alike”.
Ikebana, flower arranging, has been studied since the 7th century and, as they have done with numerous other artistic skills, the Japanese have brought out the creativity, meaning, and the interface of nature with humanity. The short description of Ikebana below emphasizes the creativity and meaning of each flower arrangement.
“More than simply putting flowers in a container, ikebana is a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together. Contrary to the idea of a parti- or multi-colored arrangement of blossoms, ikebana often emphasizes other areas of the plant, such as its stems and leaves, and puts emphasis on shape, line, and form. Though ikebana is an expression of creativity, certain rules govern its form. The artist’s intention behind each arrangement is shown through a piece’s color combinations, natural shapes, graceful lines, and the implied meaning of the arrangement.” (source: Internet)
This photo is at the entrance of La Tour D’Argent, our favorite French restaurant.
The elegance and beauty continues with food presentations and here are two representations of meals that we have had in Japan on this trip. I think they speak for themselves.
There are numerous other examples: from simply wrapping packages to Taxi cab drivers wearing white gloves and decorating their taxis with lace.
I would add that all of the enneagram types are artistic but the search for meaning and spirituality in the presentation is what leads me (and perhaps Sandra Maitri) to describe this as type 4 behavior.
There is of course the drama, longing, and idealization that is part of the type 4 personality in Japan’s culture, but for a non-native it is impossible to capture and characterize. I have therefore limited this article to the beauty and have attributed this obsession and romanticization to type 4 behavior. Japan is a wonderful and exotic country and has lots to contribute to our understanding of each other.
Meiko-san is Japanese and perhaps will share some of her insights at our first meeting on January 18th.
Dewa Mata (see you soon)
Editor: Illania Edwards