Sunday, July 31, 2011

31/07 VOX POPULI: Volatile weather reminds us that our time on Earth is fleeting

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


From the old times, the gleaming white shafts of rain showers on a summer afternoon have been likened to "silver bamboos" or "silver arrows." The end of the "tsuyu" rainy season brought a brutal heat wave, but later the nation experienced severe thunderstorms and torrential rains. Below are some comments made during July.

Three senior high schools in Fukushima Prefecture formed a joint baseball team because some members of their respective teams had transferred to other schools. The joint team played in a prefectural tournament and lost its first game 8-1, managing to score their single run in the last inning.

Coach Yoshihiro Hattori, 52, told the players: "There may be tough times ahead, but you are all going to do fine. You've proved it by scoring that one run."

Kabuki actor Nakamura Kichiemon, 67, is to become a "living national treasure." Age enriches one as an artist but slows one down physically--a paradox Nakamura doesn't want to accept passively.

"My dream is to play Benkei in Kanjincho throughout the 25-day regular performance season at the age of 80," he said. "Unless you always aim higher, you keep sliding."

His dream is also the dream of all kabuki fans.

The Sanuma Police Station in Tome, Miyagi Prefecture, has distributed handmade yellow flags for senior citizens living in temporary housing to hang on their front doors when they need help.

"The flags aren't yellow ribbons of happiness, but we want to give the elderly the assurance that they are not alone," said Naoki Miyake, the station's district section chief.

Sociologist Chizuko Ueno, who recently retired from the University of Tokyo, noted in her final special lecture: "I'm glad that our society has so many really old members today. Even people who were once powerful and successful have to depend on someone else to live out their final years. It's a society that forces the powerful to imagine themselves becoming frail some day."

My heart ached when I read a prayer written on a strip of paper by a second-year girl student of an elementary school in Fukushima on the Tanabata Star Festival Day on July 7. The prayer was: "Please don't let me get cancer in the future." Kids should be making happy wishes to the stars. I pray their carefree days will return soon.

--The Asahi Shimbun, July 31

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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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