THE HEART OF KANJI: Thank you, for both good and bad times or situations


Yoshi Ashi Tomoni Arigatou. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu
Yoshi Ashi Tomoni Arigatou. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

良し (yoshi or yoi) means “good,” and represents to put something in or to take it out of a major box and adjust it to keep a good or correct amount in the box.

悪し (ashi or aku) means “bad,” and consist of two parts. The top part represents a bad shape and the part below represents heart. Together, this character represents a bad heart.

This past August, my wife, Alice, Sayaka, a youth member of the South San Francisco Konko Center and I attended a conference of the Konko Church of North America in Toronto, Canada. The theme was “to realize blessings in misfortune.” The main speaker was Rev. Motoo Tanaka, my former Konko seminary school classmate, who was from the Konko Church in Tokyo. Tanaka attended the Unitarian Universal Seminary School in Chicago and worked as a chief of the Konko Church of North America while he was in San Francisco.

Recently, he became critically ill and had a major operation. Before his illness, Tanaka and his son volunteered to aid the victims of disaster in the earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region of northern Japan. He shared with us what he learned and the divine blessings in both the major disaster and his own misfortune. 

I was moved by Tanaka’s speech and the presentation of a DVD showing the devastation of the tsunami and earthquake. Though in the midst of his own life and death situation, with his major operation looming, sensei was calm through prayer and understanding of the teachings in the Konko faith and left everything up to Kami/God/the universe.

It is wondrous how some people obtain blessings and a deep meaning of life during times of misfortune. In the same instance, I thought how very difficult it would be to obtain awareness and a deep meaning of life when we’re enjoying good fortune. Of course, this is because we tend to take many blessings for granted.

While attending the conference, a young woman  approached me and said, “You always encourage people to say or express ‘arigatou gozaimasu’ 10,000 times a day. Are you joking or are you serious? It’s almost impossible to say ‘arigatou gozaimasu’ that many times a day.” I told her it is no joke. Even if we could express our thankfulness 10,000 times a day, it would still not be enough. We’ve been receiving millions of blessings from the universe and Kami-sama and supported by millions of people and spirits. In fact, until you face a major disaster or serious illness, you may never understand how fortunate you are. You have an opportunity to obtain awareness and great blessings through major misfortune in your life. You can receive this awareness in good situations too if you sincerely express thankfulness. I hope you can learn to appreciate and express arigatou gozaimasu a thousand times or more a day for the many blessings received in good times or bad.

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 and 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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