MC: What differences and similarities do you find between German and Japanese dream narratives?
Professor Franz Emde: Wish-fulfilling dreams, frightening dreams, nightmares, encounters with persons from the past (family) can be seen in all cultures. The psychological motivation of dreams is a universal thing. In Western cultures, the influence of Christian religion on dream occurrence seems to be very strong. In dreams, we desire the banned things, we are out of control and unveil our real self, which has to be corrected. Freud’s »Where id was, there ego shall be« shows mistrust against dreams and human unconsciousness as something that should be overcome. In Japanese dream narration, there is a spiritual world of all kinds of beings, which Christianity expelled from Western culture. As a dreamer, you dive into that world as part of a greater nature. You are not isolated in your dream as an individual, but part of a world that is unknown, strange, frightening, dangerous, or seductive.
»In Japanese dream narration, there is a spiritual world of all kinds of beings, which Christianity expelled from Western culture.«
MC: What is unique about Japanese dream narratives?
FE: In Japanese tradition, everything in nature is animated: rocks, trees, water, mountains, woods, and of course, animals. There are also many miraculous beings like ghosts (yurei), fairies (yosei), and demons (oni), which represent a broad range of evil, helpfulness, conspiracies, fear, anger, incertitude– but also wit and happiness. In short, all kinds of emotions. Dreaming of animated or supernatural beings will not show psychic problems, as interpreted by Freudian measures, but is a part of human existence within a spiritual and animated nature. Maybe it could be compared to Jung’s archetypes.