Mental Health & Writing Insights From The Father Of Japanese Short Stories

He was upstairs in a bookstore.

Twenty years old at the time, he had climbed a ladder set against a bookcase and was searching for the newly-arrived Western books: Maupassant, Baudelaire, Strindberg, Ibsen, Shaw, Tolstoy…

This is the opening paragraph of a short story called The Life Of A Stupid Man by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.

This paragraph hooked me into the work of the father of the Japanese short story because of the author’s vulnerability.

His short stories offer several mental health and creative insights:

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How To Endure Like Wolverine

Comics are a wonderful medium for exploring philosophy and making different schools of thought more accessible to a wider audience. Superheroes and supervillains regularly battle over huge philosophical and ideological perspectives on the page and in movies. 

Endurance is a universal concept across all kinds of philosophy and a superhero who is forced to ask himself the question of what endurance means every day is Wolverine. Throughout his long life, Wolverine has endured some truly horrific situations and there are Stoic insights to be gleaned from his experiences. 

I’m not saying Wolverine is pure Stoic. What I’m saying is there are certain Stoic lessons that can be taken from the character. Let’s see what they are. 

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Appreciating The Little Things With Sei Shōnagon

Throughout Japanese history, powerful women have been at the centre of the culture, constantly defying the odds and carving out a name to be remembered. From Tomoe Gozen to Masami Odate, Japanese women have picked up swords and thrown themselves into fights on their personal journeys to define who they are. 

Not every woman has needed to pick up a weapon. In the case of Sei Shōnagon, she created a legacy by picking up the pen. A writer, philosopher and courtly woman of intrigue, Shōnagon’s story is a fascinating tale of how to appreciate the small things in life.

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Sake And Stoicism: Exploring The Four Stoic Principles Through Nihonshu

Practicing philosophy invites the opportunity to bring it into aspects of life that you may not have thought about initially. In my case, I’ve become interested in the philosophy of Stoicism and over the course of learning, it’s made me curious to see how it could be introduced into other topics I find intriguing.

It’s for that reason I’m exploring Stoicism through the lens of sake brewing and how the four Stoic principles of courage, wisdom, temperance and justice is embodied in the sake industry. 

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