THE HEART OF KANJI: Appreciation and apology

感 (Kan) means “feeling.” The top lines represent a fruit tree, the small box in the center of this character is a mouth, and the bottom lines represent a heart.

謝 (Sha) means “the expression of one’s appreciation or apology.” The left side of this character symbolizes talking and the right side represents a person shooting an arrow. Once you shoot the arrow, it will never return.

詫 (Wabiru) means “apologize.” The left side represents someone talking and the right side represents a person relaxing under the roof of a house. Together, this character shows that a person can feel relaxed after they make their proper apology.

Kansha towa wabirukoto ­
calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

In Japan, the idea of kansha or appreciation is very common. Though many use it to say thank you, it also has the connotation of an apology. A popular greeting in Japan is, “okagesamade.” In English, this literally means, “thank you for the shade.” Its deeper meaning is expressing appreciation for all the hidden support and blessings that allowed us to be here and meet in this moment.

We have many hidden blessings to be thankful for. The invisible air that allows us to live, our ancestral spirits whose wisdom guides our decisions, and the miraculous workings of nature and the universe that feeds our cells and DNA so that we can continue to thrive.

As this is so natural to us, we often take these things for granted. Perhaps we are thankful when we get a birthday present from a friend or are happy when we buy a new phone, but what about being grateful for our heartbeat that helps to pump blood through our system even when we are asleep?

The late third head minister of the Konko religion said, “Even though I express wholehearted appreciation for everything, I still feel my appreciation is not enough, so I express wholehearted apologies for not having enough appreciation.” I feel that we should live with the same attitude of the late Konko sama. If we can live with such a humble attitude, I believe we can find solutions to many of our problems.

When I was 20 years old, I was arrogant and believed that everything I had accomplished was because of my own independent success. However, I was then struck with illness. As I suffered and laid in bed, I had a powerful realization that I was alive due to my parents love, the power of Kami, and the support of my ancestors, friends, and all the other humans on Earth. I expressed my wholehearted apologies for not realizing this before. I worried that I had been a terrible person since I had been ignorant of the great help of the universe. I realized that in order to pay for my emotional offenses, I should begin to practice my faith. My life was a priceless gift that Kami had bestowed upon me and I could not pay it back in money or riches. I understood that if I practiced my faith and shared it with others, I could begin to make up for my 20 years of being ignorant and arrogant.

The power of humbleness is underrated and sometimes people in this modern age believe that it is a sign of weakness. However, I believe that practicing these two virtues helps to unlock the power of the universe and allows it to support you in ways you never imagined.

If you begin to practice these things, please let me know if your perspective on life and the world around you changes! I am always happy to hear how working on these virtues can help humanity maintain a happier and more fulfilled relationship with Kami, each other and the world.

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). 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.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Kyplex Cloud Security Seal - Click for Verification