THE HEART OF KANJI: Golden light


Konko. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

金 (kon or kin) means “golden or gold,” which consists of two parts. The top is the shape of a mountain and the bottom represents gold in the soil. 光 (ko or hikari) consists of two parts. The top represents fire flames, and the bottom represents a person’s legs.

Konko. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu
Konko. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

Looking back at 2012, many things have happened, both good and bad. The new year will also bring both good and bad news. Whatever happens, I hope we can shine a golden light within our heart.
In 2013, we will celebrate the year of the snake. The character of the snake is described as wise, serious, passionate and determined. The people of Japan believe the snake is a messenger of Kami/God. The Konko founder said, “People also have the potential to be good messengers and Kami/God is looking for good messengers.” A person who is a good messenger may possess strong inspiration and have a high sixth sense.

Most people are depending more and more on high-tech gadgets such as tablets, iPhones and laptops. As a result, people have been losing their sixth sense. We no longer have the ability to notice or predict — by our senses alone — natural or human disasters, before they strike.

Animals still have a natural instinctive sixth sense. Before the big tsunami hit Indonesia on Dec. 26, 2004, many animals ran up the mountain to safety before the waves hit; yet, many people died. I heard an elephant picked up his owner, placed him on his back and headed up to high ground and saved him.

When the tsunami hit northern Japan on March 11, 2011, some people were saved, while others died. Whether a person lives or dies can depend on person’s sixth sense and how to react within seconds.
A sixth sense, a golden light or the ability to be a messenger of Kami/God, are traits we need to develop and to cherish.

On a lighter note, this past August, my son Masashi Grant Kawahatsu enrolled at Syracuse University in New York. Living in a new place in another state with an environment that differs greatly from San Francisco’s Japantown, he faced culture shock. Even though New York and California are in the same country, there are tremendous differences, including food. Masashi used to eat Japanese food and a lot of rice every day. But in the dormitory, he has been served Western food, like macaroni or potatoes. While they serve rice once in a while, he says it is not delicious like Californian rice. Another difference is the weather. As you know, San Francisco’s weather is fall-like, for much of the year. Back east in Syracuse, they have four seasons, so the weather is obviously much colder in the winter. It may be 20 degrees or lower on certain frigid days. As parents, my wife and I hope Masashi will survive and succeed there this winter.

When he was a kindergarten student, there was a power outrage in Japantown one day, bringing absolute darkness at night. At the time, he said, “Dad, even though there is darkness all around, you will be OK as long as you have a golden light within you.” I was shocked and in awe of his profoundness. I remember this vividly even today, as you no doubt, remember the amazing things your children did when they were young. So I have confidence, he will survive on his own and do well in New York.

As we approach the new year, let us have a golden light within our hearts, and let it shine throughout the world. Let us also try and develop our inner sixth sense to overcome any obstacles we may face in the coming year. Let us be messengers of Kami/God.

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. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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