Domo arigato gozaimasu is the only phrase I know in Japanese, but probably one of the most important. For those of you who might be unfamiliar, it means: Thank you very much. I’ve never been to Japan before, but I feel that I have a lot to say thank you for to the Japanese. Many of my favorite things come from Japan. One of my recent posts was about one of my favorite foods, sushi. I drive a Honda. Most of my memories from my overseas trips were captured with my Canon. And anyone who knows me knows of my love of Hello Kitty, introduced to me when I was 6 by a Japanese classmate of mine.
On March 11th, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck northeastern Japan. Moment’s later, coastal cities were nearly completely washed away by the ensuing tsunami. The region is coping with a possible meltdown at a nuclear power plant where the cooling systems for the reactors were damaged from the earthquake and tsunami. And if that wasn’t enough, as the Japanese try to recover, recuperate and reassemble, they must do so while coping with falling snow and freezing temperatures.
The true test of any structure, whether it’s a marriage, a building, or a culture, always comes when things are at their worst. And no doubt, the Japanese have been tested before. Some of the strongest and deadliest earthquakes on record have hit Japan, the word tsunami is Japanese in origin, and even before my first world history lessons, I learned about Japan’s nuclear history when my acting camp performed a play inspired by the book: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. In Japanese folklore, it is believed that one who makes 1,000 origami paper cranes will be granted a wish. Sadako was 2 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. She developed leukemia as a child, and at the age of 12, she was given a year to live. Sadako’s spent most of her last year alive hospitalized. While in the hospital, she began her quest to make 1,000 origami paper cranes, with her wish being to live.
Whether due to the earthquakes, tsunamis or nuclear attacks, Japan has shown the world its strength as a culture. As news reports emerged during the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan, I’ve heard words such as, “dignity”, “civility”, “admiration”, and “order” used to describe the Japanese; words that aren’t usually associated with disasters, especially of this magnitude. Today, I say domo arigato gozaimasu to the Japanese for being models to the world.