THE HEART OF KANJI: Thank you very much


有 (ari or yuu) means “to have or to possess,” which has two parts. The top lines represent a person’s hand, and the line below represents a slice of meat. So the person’s hand is holding or

Arigato Gozaimasu. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu
Arigato Gozaimasu. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

having the sliced meat.

難 (gato or nan) means “difficult or suffering,” which has three parts. The top of the left side represents grass, and just below it represents fire flames on a field. The grass on the field burns and becomes red like clay or soil. The right side represents a small bird running around. Together, both the clay and small bird are difficult to handle.

As you know, the San Francisco Giants became the Major League Baseball champions in 2012 for the second time in three years. Some of you know that Japan’s Yomiuri or “Tokyo” Giants also became the 2012 Nippon Professional Baseball champions.

However, the Yomiuri Giants were not in good condition at the beginning of the season. The team kept losing games one after another, and became the lowest ranked team in Japan. In Japanese baseball history, no baseball team had ever become champion after becoming the lowest ranked team. All of the Yomiuri Giants coaches, players, and fans had given up the goal of becoming champions in 2012.

Around that time, the Yomiuri Giants Manager Tatsunori Hara read a book entitled “Tsuki wo Yobu ‘Mahou no Kotoba’” (Calling for Luck: The Magic Word”) by Itsukaichi Tsuyoshi. Hara was able to understand the true meaning of arigato (thank you) from the book. Most people say “arigato” when receiving a nice gift or special favor from someone. He himself had always used “arigato” as his greeting, and it was no big deal.

However, Hara learned a much deeper meaning of this word from the book. He learned that the kanji’s meaning of arigato means to have great difficulty or suffering. And even though you’re suffering and experiencing tough times, you can still have appreciation in your life.

Then Hara recalled how his team lost many games and had the worst record — and how the Tokyo Giants scandals were being discussed in the newspaper. The whole team was discouraged and their feelings were at their lowest. However, Hara knew his team was still able to play baseball with healthy bodies and they could still enjoy it together. They were world class athletes and very fortunate to play the game for their daily jobs.

As manager, Hara started to appreciate both good and bad things, and conveyed that positive attitude to his team. Soon his players became relaxed and their appreciation for their lives led to unity and oneness. And thus, the Tokyo Giants began to win many games, and climbed the mountain, to win the championship and become the top baseball team of Japan once more.

The Konko founder said, “Suffering is a divine favor in disguise.” He also said, “Divine favors begin with hearts grateful and caring in harmony and joy.”

In other words, if our hearts are ungrateful, uncaring and not harmonious or joyful, we cannot receive divine favors or happiness in life. I hope we can express our deep appreciation with words like arigato or arigato gozaimasu under any circumstance, so we can enjoy our everyday life.

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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