Happiness

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     Yesterday morning a strong earthquake with an estimated magnitude 6.9 rocked in central Japan. It was around 9:42 a.m.when I knew it was a quite big earthquake although I live in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture far from the hypocenter. I turned on TV as soon as the shake stopped. The TV said the intensity of the earthquake on the Japanese scale was over 6 in Ishikawa prefecture.

     I suddenly remembered about my second intensive course this spring when I saw the TV news. I was going to write here about Yasukuni Shrine Issue which had been a topic of my first intensive course entitled “Talking about Japan: Social issues”, but I’ll mention about it another day.

    My second intensive course was from the end of February to the beginning of March. The title was "Expressing Opinions Course". Why did I  remember about it when I was watching the news of the big earthquake on TV, then?

   Because the second course’s teacher, who is kind of controversial Australian, mentioned in the class that disasters in Japan might have something to do with low sense of well-being of Japanese people.

     According to a survey by Spa!, the magazine, in 2005, most Japanese young men aged 28-34 felt unhappier than others and had no hope for future. And Japan is 90th out of 178 countries for happiness in the World Map of Happiness produced by Adrian White, Analytic Social Psychologist at the University of Leicester last year (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-07/uol-uol072706.php) . Moreover, Japan had the largest proportion of 15-year-olds who feel lonely among some industrial countries by UNICEF report on child well-being in February.

     After World War II, Japan has enjoyed the big economic growth, recently it’s not been so much good though. People have blessed materially, but might not mentally. Fathers are busy with their business for their houses’ loans and kids’ school expenses and are not at house. Mothers also have to work hard and are tired of both of job and house chores. Children are really busy because they have to go to cram schools after school and take many lessons for example, playing the piano, swimming, and so on.

     It is said that children learn by imitating their parents in general. The parents, however, are exhausted themselves by hard work and often not home. Can children find bright futures before them when they see their parents like those, and besides they feel themselves also exhausted by their tight schedules?

     As you know, Japan is a country with frequent earthquakes and typhoons. We’ve had many of the dead and the wounded, and victims who lost family and friends and household effects by those disasters. I think when people have something to protect, they’ll have fear of losing them.

     How can people picture their bright futures in the environment like that people are too busy, and there are many disasters as like earthquakes, eruptions, typhoons or other recent abnormal weathers? But it’s true that some underprivileged countries are ranked higher for happiness than Japan.

     People of today in Japan, especially children have been well endowed with a large variety of things since birth. In spite of that or because of that, many people may lose their zest for life.

      Japanese people love seeing cherry blossoms and firework displays. Both of them are loved because of not only their gracefulness but also their briefness. I think it has something to do with Buddhism. It might form the basis of most Japanese people’s behaviors and minds in which there’s sense of mortality and emptiness. I think the sense might have been carved in Japanese genes through the memories of many disasters. I’m wondering that that’s why people are sort of pessimistic…

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