大 (Oo, Dai or Ookii) means “big,” which is a form of a big person who is standing.

津 (Tsu) means “harbor or port, come in and come out,” which consists of two parts. The left represents water and the right is a person whose hand is holding a stick. Water in the harbor comes in and comes out as the stick moves in and out.

波 (Nami) means “wave,” which also consists of two parts. The left is water and the right is a person’s skin which waves like a water wave.

As you know the strongest earthquake ever in Japan — said to be the fourth largest in the history of the world — and the powerful oo tsunami, have devastated the Northern part of Japan. More than 10,000 people have died and about 17,000 are still missing.

Oo Tsunami (Big wave). calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

In this kind of event, people react and respond differently. Some people may not care while other people care seriously. Some people may believe it is divine punishment, while others believe it is a divine message. There are many different feelings and thoughts that come to mind.  How do we react and respond? What kind of action should we take?

I try to remind myself that our lives are very weak and fragile, and yet, our lives have great value. I try to appreciate my life, my family’s lives and all people’s lives more than ever. In the aftermath of natural disasters or tragedies, many kind people generously help by donating money or material things. While that is very important, we should also give them our spiritual support by saying a special prayer for them every day for 10 or 15 minutes.

In this dark moment, we are given a great chance to develop and improve upon the balance between all that’s material and spiritual. I believe the balance between “materiality” and spirituality has been off. Now more than ever, humankind should place more effort to build up spiritual happiness rather than material happiness. Some may believe our prayers will not help them at all. I believe our prayers not only will help others, but will also help ourselves.

Kami/God will hear our prayers to help the afflicted — and we will be spiritually ready in case we face the same situation the brave people in Japan are facing right now. Prayers will also change our everyday attitude and behavior. We might be able to respect our family members, friends or neighbors more than ever. I again suggest to all of you, as individuals or as family members together, to set aside prayer time for 10 or 15 minutes a day for all people who are suffering and for all spirits — of people who died suddenly from the Oo Tsunami — who are distressed in the spiritual world.


Rev. Masato Kawahatsu is a minister at the Konko Church of San Francisco and Konko Center of South San Francisco, who teaches shodo (Japanese calligraphy) and martial arts. He also gives spiritual counseling. He can be reached at or (415) 517-5563.



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