In Japan, there was a remarkable, fairy tale like event this month.
It is a wedding between a bride from Imperial family and a groom from the most famous Shinto priest family.
The bride’s name is Noriko Takamadonomiya, 26-year-old second daughter of the late Prince Takamado who was a cousin of current Emperor. (You can check the genealogy of Imperial family here)
The groom’s name is Kunimaro Senge, a 41-year-old eldest son of the chief priest at the IZUMO TAISHA (IZUMO Grand Shrine) in SHIMANE Prefecture.
The origin of Japanese Imperial family goes far back to the Japanese mythical age.
There it is said that “NINIGI-NO-MIKOTO”, a grandson of AMATERASU-ŌMIKAMI descended from heaven called “TAKAMAGAHARA” to the earth and unified the country of Japan.
The Imperial family has a history of around 2,700 years and 125 generations starting from the first Emperor “JIMMU”, a descendant of said NINIGI-NO-MIKOTO.
Senge is a family of hereditary Shinto priesthood for IZUMO TAISHA for 84 generations. “AMENOHOHI-NO-MIKOTO”, a second son of AMATERASU-ŌMIKAMI is said to be the origin of this family. (But the enshrined deity in IZUMO TAISHA is “ŌKUNINUSHI-NO-MIKOTO“, complicated!)
It is an inconceivable event that the Imperial family and Senge family were connected beyond time and space this year.
As I mentioned several times in this blog, AMATERASU-ŌMIKAMI is an enshrined deity in ISE JINGŪ (ISE Grand Shrine) and the very origin of the Imperial family of Japan. ISE JINGŪ is positioned at the top of Japan’s Shinto shrine hierarchy consisting of more than 80,000 shrines.
In Japan, you can see Shinto shrines anywhere. Even in secluded areas far away from villages inhabited by people.
From ancient times, Shinto shrines or its deities are something very close to Japanese people. It is not too much to say that there is no Japanese who never visited to such shrines in his/her life regardless of if he/she believes in god or not.
The number of visitors to “MEIJI JINGŪ” (MEIJI Shrine) during the New Year Days (From January 1 to 3) is said to count more than 3 million in total, which is the highest in Japan.
Since this is a figure for a single shrine and only during those 3 days, I wonder how money people in Japan are visiting to Shinto shrines in a year.
However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we Japanese are very religious.
Indeed, there are many Japanese who visit shrines while they are not believing in Shinto deities, why?
I guess this is because a certain “noble spirit” is residing deep in their mind unconsciously.
“The first and most important element which has created the quality of Japanese people is the spiritual reign by the Imperial family.“ said Yoshiko Sakurai too, a Japanese famous journalist.
The actions taken by Japanese during those disasters, which were eventually praised enthusiastically by the people around the world, was due to such noble mind I suppose.
It is said that in other countries even in developed ones, man-made disasters such as depredations or riots are usually caused after such devastating natural disasters.
However, Japanese behaved calmly and coolly while the dreadful TSUNAMI was surging his/her house or family members.
In shelters, it was rare to see people who acted selfishly or troubled others.
After the TSUNAMI disaster, one of my friends who had to evacuate her house said,
“Even though I had been stockpiling foods in case of this kind of emergency, I couldn’t share the foods only with my family in a shelter, but I didn’t have enough foods to share with all of the people there…”
The words full of kindness and compassion.
Another friend who suffered from the Great HANSHIN Earthquake also told me a heart-warming story.
A week after the earthquake, she finally had a chance to take a bath in another shelter which was about one hour walk from her shelter.
Arriving at the target place however, she had to wait another hour in a long queue in a cold January weather.
Finally it was her go. But she quickly washed herself and left the bath in a couple of minutes because she felt sorry for those who were still waiting in the queue outside, including children and elderly people.
She was not the only person who acted like that. She said many people around her behaved in the same manner and a sense of solidarity was naturally created there.
By the way, when I was reading a newspaper the other day, I found a column written by Mieko Nishimizu, ex Vice-President of the World Bank.
She said in the column that she received an email forwarded from her friend saying this email was “flying” among people all over the world including the workers in World Bank and IMF.
It was titled “10 things to learn from Japan”. Here goes the full text.
10 things to learn from Japan
Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.
Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.
The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn’t fall.
People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.
No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding.
Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid?
Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.
The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.
They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporters. Only calm reportage.
When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly!
Truly Inspirational –what is happening in the Land of the Rising Sun.
I understand there will be opinions on the pros and cons of this email and yes, I admit that there is no end to such fraud cases as the “ORE ORE Swindle” (so called because a swindler makes a phone call and starts the conversation with “ore ore” or “It’s me.”) in Japan.
However, one thing that I can say is that Japanese people live in a “shame society” where a shame is the primary agent of social control.
This culture is based on the idea that “the sun (=god) sees into our hearts”, so we Japanese, living in the land of the rising sun, must live our lives without feeling ashamed of ourselves.
Living with noble-mind and dignity without forgetting the pride of Japanese under the sun, which might be the lifetime mission for a Japanese.