THE HEART OF KANJI: Healthy Future


Kenko na Mirai. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

Kenko na Mirai. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

健康 (Kenko) means “health,” which I explained in my Oct. 20-26, 2011 column.

未来 (Mirai) means “future.”

未 (mi) means “not ripe yet,” and consists of two parts. The top horizontal line represents fruit that is not yet ripe and the bottom line represents a tree.

来 (rai or kuru) means “come,” and consists of two parts. The top horizontal line represents the heaven or sky and the below line represents rice or wheat plants. People once believed that rice or wheat came from the heaven or sky.

We all wish and pray for a healthy future for 2012 and beyond. However, this will be difficult because the world is facing many serious problems.

Recently, my daughter visited Japan as the 2011 Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen, representing the Japanese American communities in Northern California. Her mother and I also went. We arrived in Tokyo and decided to stay a few days.

While in Tokyo, we greeted the president of Fujiyasu Kimono Company, Kazunari Mochizuki. He said the kimono that was given to our daughter took one year to make. We expressed our sincere appreciation to Mr. Mochizuki and his company, which has given beautiful kimono to Cherry Blossom queens every year for more than 40 years.

We attended the Konko Church of Tokyo’s grand ceremony. The main speaker was from Fukushima Prefecture, which was destroyed by the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters. He said we can’t see, smell or touch the nuclear fallout, so people are very much afraid now and for the future. No one knows how long it will take to solve the hazardous problem of nuclear contamination. This represents an unhealthy condition in the Fukushima area, many surrounding areas in Japan and throughout the world.

How can we thus maintain a healthy future?

We’ve been good at creating a materialistic society, but we have failed at creating a spiritual one. The imbalance between our material and spiritual worlds creates an unhealthy world and a troublesome future.

We visited the Konko headquarters in Okayama Prefecture to greet the head minister. We also visited his son, who has five children, the youngest daughter being only two months old. I held her in my arms and wished the world would be a healthy place as she — and other kids around the world — grow up. I recall how the head minister’s son came to San Francisco 22 years ago, and held our daughter, Jeddie Narumi, who was 2 months old at that time, and is now 22 years of age.

We also visited my parents’ church in Nakajima, Ehime Prefecture for my father’s 10th year memorial service.

Afterward, we went to Kyoto to attend the 110-year anniversary of the Konko Church of Karasuma. While there, I heard the story of how the Rev. Takahashi founded the Konko Church of Karasuma in Kyoto.

When he had a painful back, a church member introduced the Rev. Takahashi to the Konko faith. He visited the Konko church to ask the minister if Kami-sama would cure his back. The minister prayed for him and the Rev. Takahashi was soon well. But he then stopped attending church.

Once again, the Rev. Takahashi started to have backaches. He once more went to church to ask for good health. The minister said, “I will pray for you but you should also pray to Kami/God.” The Rev. Takahashi decided to pray continuously until he was well, so he prayed for three days without eating and resting. Soon thereafter, he was healthy so he stopped praying. When his wife attended church, the minister asked, “Why does your husband only come to church when he is sick?” The wife went home and told her husband.

The Rev. Takahashi answered, “I’m very busy at work so I don’t have time for church.” His wife communicated this to the minister. The minister said it is Kami/God who helps him have a job and to keep busy at work. He can’t ever forget Kami/God even though his health condition is better. The Rev. Takahashi’s back problem soon returned.

This time, the Rev. Takahashi understood he had been materialistic and not spiritualistic. He quit his work and decided to train and to develop his Konko faith wholeheartedly. He became a Konko minister and his church was established 110 years ago. He never had back problems again until the age of 75 near the end of his life.

I sincerely believe we can create a healthy future by awakening our spirituality and by helping others.

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 is the author of “An Eternal Journey.” He can be reached at or (415) 517-5563.

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