My prayers and sympathy go to the Japanese

Here’s an insightful New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof on Japan’s stoicism, civility, and collective resilience. (Below is an excerpt)

There’s a common Japanese word, “gaman,” that doesn’t really have an English equivalent, but is something like “toughing it out”…

This stoicism is built into the Japanese language. People always say “shikata ga nai” – it can’t be helped. And one of the most common things to say to someone else is “ganbatte kudasai” – tough it out, be strong. Natural disasters are seen as part of Japan’s “unmei,” or fate – a term that is written by combining the characters for movement and life…

Uncomplaining, collective resilience is steeped into the Japanese soul.


5 thoughts on “My prayers and sympathy go to the Japanese

  1. I loved my trip to Japan three months ago so the pain is with me now seeing the people suffer. The Japanese people showed me nothing but kindness. Since i was traveling solo, i got to experience the best of times realizing how it is to be at home in a foreign country.

    • Hi Jerik, I share your love for Japan and it’s really such a tragedy what happened. I find a lump in my throat whenever I would see images of the devastation and the survivors. But I also find it inspiring whenever I see images or read Japan-based blogs about how the Japanese are picking up the pieces, staying (as a nation) calm and collected in the face of this tragedy. Like you, my husband and I received great hospitality and kindness from the Japanese when we visited the country last year. The few times we got lost, we could always count on someone–even when we both struggled to understand each other’s language–to help us out. I think they have such an indomitable spirit. Btw, I saw the prayer in your blog and I join you in prayer 🙂

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