Underlying Beauty Beauty deceives. Those who look the most beautiful end up acting shallow and judgmental, but people who appear unattractive at first glance turn out to show the greatest beauty. People cannot always define comeliness as a well-proportioned face, long, silky hair, or a slender body; it can come in the form of hard work, emotional strength, humor, or intelligence. The Samurai’s Garden, written by Gail Tsukiyama, features a theme of finding underlying beauty and splendor in people and objects typically viewed as ugly or unattractive. Many parts of the world view scars as more than just a memory of pain.
In Africa, tribal leaders receive intricate designs cut into their faces, necks, and chests to show their position and to prove their leadership capabilities. Scarification, the cutting of patterns into the skin to create designs or pictures similar to a tattoo, acts as a common practice in many Asian countries. People do this on purpose because they correspond it to beauty. In western culture, however, many people look at scars, especially if done so purposefully, as gross, shameful, and disturbing. As such, westerners cannot appreciate the beauty of scars or the strength that comes from having them.
Scars hold the potential to make people feel ugly because society looks down on individuals for having such disfigurations. For example, when people see self-harm scars they look at them and the person they adorn as the scum of the earth. Even psychologists and doctors, people whose job consists of taking care of others and not judging them on their afflictions, look down on people’s scars. During surgery the first goal of a doctor involves keeping the patient alive, but the second consists of leaving an individual with minimal scarring.
Our society has morphed into a culture that looks at scars, wounds, birthmarks, and anything not considered “normal” with distain. It takes enormous strength to face the world everyday when society’s only desire involves tearing people down. Modern western culture views scars as disfigurations, not as beauty marks or unique features, and Japanese culture in the 1930s viewed marred flash in much the same way. When Sachi’s leprosy began to spread to her face, she started wearing a veil around her head to cover up her “imperfections.
She felt ashamed for others to see her scars even though all the people of her village, a leper colony, wore the same blemishes. Sachi was sent into exile due to the disease when she chose not to kill herself. Japanese society viewed leprosy as a shameful disease due to the disfigurations it caused. It was also seen as a disease that brought a person’s innermost secrets, sins, and flaws into the light and turned them into physical defects. Many people view gardens made of only rock as ugly and boring while one consisting of living plants seems beautiful and exciting.
Matsu created a garden made of stone for Sachi after she contracted leprosy because she could not stand to view the typical beauty of a traditional Japanese garden. Sachi’s rock garden soon transformed her life, and into it she poured all of her fears and sorrows. The patterns she raked into the rocks and the designs she made from different colored and sized stones made her garden more beautiful than she or Matsu ever imagined. “What I had thought would be barren and distant was instead filled with quiet beauty. I remember I turned to Matsu as we stood looking at the rock garden and asked, “Did you know it would be so simple and beautiful? ‘I knew its beauty would appear if we worked hard enough,’ he answered.
‘But I never expected it to be like this. ‘ Matsu smiled. ‘Beauty can be found in most places. ” (Tsukiyama 150-151) Upon seeing Sachi’s garden for the first time Stephan comments, “I took a few minutes to take it all in. On the rugged, sloping earth, Sachi had created mountains from arranged rocks, surrounded by gravel and elongated stones flowing down like a rocky stream leading to a lake or the sea. The flat surface of water was formed by smooth round pebbles, raked in straight and encircling lines to suggest whirlpools and waves” (Tsukiyama 40).
Stephan realized that Sachi made an amazing garden that held the same, or even more, beauty than a traditional garden. Even with her scars and “defects,” Matsu and Stephan found Sachi beautiful. One day while visiting Yamaguchi, the leper village, Stephan comments to himself” wanted nothing more than to tell her how beautiful she was, to let her know she didn’t have to hide from anyone… ” (Tsukiyama 67). On a later trip he tells Sachi “’I came here to tell you you don’t have to hide from us. The scars make no difference to me, and I know they never did to Matsu” (Tsukiyama 75-76).