Seeing the truth through a hopeless situation

Shitsubo kara miru shinjitsu. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

失望 (Shitsubo) means “hopeless.” The first character represents a bird flying away, never to return. The second character’s left side represents an eye. The top portion of the right side represents the moon and the bottom represents a person. Together, a person looks toward the moon, thinking of their wishes.

見 (Miru) means to “look at.” This character indicates an eye.

真実 (Shinjitsu) means “truth.” The first character symbolizes an upside down person. The second character’s top lines represent a roof and the bottom lines represent treasure.

If you suddenly lost your eyesight, what would you do? I can’t even imagine what it would be like to navigate the world, but I do think I would suffer a lot. Even when we have a small physical inconvenience like a paper cut or a sprained ankle, it is an extreme inconvenience and disrupts our daily life and rhythms. A bigger loss, like eyesight or a limb would have an even greater impact on our mental, physical and emotional state.

I would like to share Yusuke Hatsuse’s story. At the age of 23, he suddenly lost his eyesight. He was optimistic right after his surgery, as the doctors promised his eyesight would return and he could continue his college studies. However, he did not regain his sight and struggled to do even simple tasks alone. He became depressed.

He told himself that if he wasn’t better in one year, he would commit suicide. He named this year, “The time of positive acceptance.” He got rid of his embarrassment and asked for help from others rather than struggling alone and continued his college studies even though he had not yet learned how to read braille.

His classmates and teachers rose to the occasion, assisting him with everything he needed to learn and re-train as a person without sight, and soon he graduated. The next step was finding a job. This proved to be more difficult. Yusuke applied to more than 100 companies, but none responded. Rather than giving up, he decided to start his own company.

This mindset shift changed everything and he no longer wanted to die. Even his lifelong passion for judo was resurrected. For a while, he was sad that he could not train judo in the same way. However, his girlfriend suggested that he try a judo club for disabled people. He began to practice with this new group and though he had never been good enough for competition before his loss of sight, with this new group he won the national championship nine times in a row in the disabled division!

Although a major difficulty suddenly derailed his everyday life, he was able to push through and understand the truth; that there is great possibility in change and in adversity. These moments give us an opportunity to find our inner power, creativity and ambition for life. Let us find ways to overcome our challenges in the same way.

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 News.

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