"where a journey - physical or spiritual - is fraught with protocol and ritual, overlaid and constrained by social standing. This is the inconsistency I was trying to indicate…"
I think your alluding to a dialectical perception of freedom. As Zygmunt Bauman argues, freedom does not exist as a universal condition but as a relational condition within a social structure. Following that all societies and cultures have necessitated restrictive practices to allow for varying degrees of freedom.
But I think it is more a question of attitude(s) found in aspects of Japanese culture rather than anything overly comprehensive.
In the 1983 film Sans Soleil there is some beautiful commentary describing a ceremony held at Ueno Zoo in memory of animals that had died during the year.
"I’ve heard this sentence: “The partition that separates life from death does not appear so thick to us as it does to a Westerner.” What I have read most often in the eyes of people about to die is surprise. What I read right now in the eyes of Japanese children is curiosity, as if they were trying—in order to understand the death of an animal—to stare through the partition."
*Above comment has been submitted by bauhauswives