Friday, July 1, 2011

01/07 VOX POPULI: Amid sadness, everyone thinking about the future

Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a daily column that runs on Page 1 of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun.

Time goes by amid grief. With "sokkokuki" that marked the 100th day from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the month of June over, we have entered the second half of the year. Here are some words to remember from June that makes us want to get a glimpse of tomorrow beyond the rain.

Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, where Kesencha tea is grown, is said to be Japan's northernmost production center of tea. With the earthquake and tsunami, it was doubtful whether the tea could be harvested but thanks to the help of local high school students, the first picking was done. Ryuji Konno, 96, a tea farmer whose home was washed away, had given up tea picking this year. "I am happy that we could pick tea," Konno said. "I am determined to return and continue tea growing as long as I can work."

Some 80,000 elementary and junior high school students in Sendai started to make ornaments for the "Sendai Tanabata Matsuri," an annual festival observed in the summer. Yuki Yamauchi, 14, can no longer live at home because of the disaster. "I want to make a beautiful streamer so that we can move forward," Yamauchi said. "I want people to know that Sendai is alive and kicking." The festival is a major event that highlights the summer in the Tohoku region.

Toshiyuki Moriuchi, a ninth-dan shogi player, defeated meijin Yoshiharu Habu in the meijin title match. Having won a match that will go down in shogi history, Moriuchi, 40, said: "There is no one I owe more than Habu for helping me go higher. Because of Habu, I am where I am today." I find the comment refreshing. The two are worthy opponents of the same age.

"I looked at the photo again/ Everyone is laughing/ They look happy as they laugh/ They must have had beloved families/ They must have had many dreams." Tomoka Kamida, 13, a second-year junior high school student in Okinawa, read a poem she composed at a ceremony to remember the war dead on Okinawa Memorial Day." I will not forgive war that took them away," the poem goes.

On June 11, demonstrations were held across the nation calling for the abolition of nuclear power generation. Chiho Ishii, 33, of Hiroshima took part in a demonstration with her 3-year-old son. "I did so because when I look back some day, I don't want to regret that I didn't do anything." Everyone is starting to think seriously about the future.

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 30

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.

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