THE HEART OF KANJI: Thank you very much 1,000 times a day


Ichi nichi sen kai arigatougozaimasu. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu
Ichi nichi sen kai arigatougozaimasu. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

一 (ichi) means “one,” which represents a form of one finger.

日(nichi) means day, which represents the form of the sun.

千 (sen) means “thousand,” which consists of two parts. The bottom lines represent the number 10 and the top line represents many numbers.

回 (kai) means “time,” which indicates the circle or swirl.

A few weeks ago, I heard a speech by Katsuko Yamamoto, a teacher for a handicapped school in Kanazawa City, Japan. Everyone was moved by her experiences with the disabled and sick students.

The main points of her speech, in her own words, were:

“Society may look down on or away from the disabled and sick. However, society is not aware how the sick and disabled are supporting all people of the world. These people are sacrificing their lives for all humankind through their hardship, suffering and pain. We should instead appreciate them. I learned this from a teenage girl who had a terminal illness.

One day, the girl said to me, ‘I decided to not ask why me ever again — even though I will soon become blind, a vegetable unable to move my hands and my legs anymore — because of illness. If I complain, it will not bode well for my mind and spirit. Instead, I want to express deep appreciation for all parts of my body. For many years, I was able to see the beautiful world with my eyes, and my legs took me to many wonderful places.’

This bright and brave girl eventually died at a young age. For a long time, I was very sad. Then one day, I found a card in my purse that was from her.  The girl had written, ‘I believe all people are equally important in the world, even though they are sick or handicapped. I would like to ask you to spread this idea to all people of the world and then it will become commonplace one day.’

I am not strong physically, mentally or spiritually. Therefore, I thought it would be impossible to accomplish this. Yet, I began writing some books and the word has spread to many areas of Japan. My books have been translated in other languages. Now I’m able to come to Los Angeles and San Francisco to share the teenage girl’s vision with the American people. I wish all of you will also spread this idea to other people.”

I, myself, have founded a movement to say “Arigatou gozaimasu (Thank you very much) 1,000 times a day.” After hearing Ms. Yamamoto’s speech, I felt reinvigorated in my belief that it is very important to express deep appreciation for all people in this world, whether good or bad, sick or healthy, alive or those who have passed on. I hope one day all of us will say, “Arigatou gozaimasu” or “thank you very much” in our everyday lives, a thousand times a day.

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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