The Smiling/Laughing Geisha
“Many Westerners have found the Japanese smile weird and inscrutable, but it would seem that the basic reason is that, as with this one, there is nothing familiar to them in the Japanese facial expression. When we see a Chinese smile in a Western moving picture, we ourselves usually find his smile weird and inscrutable.
“… The question is not whether Westerners can understand our smile or not. It is rather how we smile the smile left us by our ancestors. What we want to is the laugh with which the eight million Gods shook the Plain of High Heaven, but that be impossible, let us smile the calm, clear, sunny smile evoked when Buddha twirled his lotus flower, which itself had its origin in the tearful smile.”
– “The Japanese Smile”, by Toyotaka Komiya, Travel in Japan, Vol. 6 No. 2, 1940