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Messages from water : No.3

Water penetrates through the objects slowly.
Because it is slow, it has strength.

When you walk slowly,
You can see clearly.

When you think slowly,
You are calm and won’t get upset.

When you spend time slowly,
You can refresh yourself.

When you speak slowly,
You can make the most of your time.


Messages from water : No.2

Water flows
Water flows, and it is alive.

When flowed…
It purifies itself

When flowed…
It renews itself

When flowed…
It empowers itself

When flowed…
It becomes tenderer.


Messages from water : No. 1

Past 28 years, I would go to the mountains looking for headstreams of rivers.  At any time of the year, I go into the rivers and capture the flow of water on paper.

One day I realized that water has a heart and feelings; sometimes it is soft and another time strong, or even caring, too.  Here are some of the messages which I received from water.

Water exists for just what it is

Water exists there at this moment for just what it is

You are good enough just the way you are.
You have a power which is unique to you.

You are good enough just the way you are.
A big flow will come to you before long.

You are good enough just the way you are.
You can just prepare for your future.

You are good enough just the way you are.
I know you are working hard though people wouldn’t wee it.


Some thoughts after the season’s 12th typhoon.

The season’s 12th typhoon is gone and left much destructions behind.
My heart hurts and become wordless when I think of the people who have suffered from a tremendous amount of loss.

Most of Japan’s land area is mountainous; some includes precipitous mountains.
The water coming from those steep mountains lashes out people who live on a flat land time to time.  That is the origin of Japan as a land of water.

Every year at some places, there have been attacks from the nature, and we are the people who repeatedly reconstructed the damages.  Many remained to the land, didn’t give up, and re-established.  Those attitudes have nurture Japanese people’s strong- mindedness. 

Including the last Tsunami on March 11th, Japan has suffered from many natural disasters for so many years, especially related with water.  At each time, however, our ancestors got back on their feet.  In other words, water has made the people strong.
That is the root I call Japan as the land of water.  People never gave up, and after so many torments from the nature, they have taken careful precaution against the disasters which would happen again.  Even so, we still cannot predict natural disasters, and there are still victims.  I am sure, however, that the number of the victims has decreased comparing to the past disasters of the equivalent size.

In the near future, I believe that we will evolve into a world which will keep people away from natural disasters from any kind.  Moreover, that will be enabled by living together with nature.  That idea may be the reason why Japan is respected from other countries.  The nature does not intend to attack human beings.  It just has overflowing energy which causes the disasters sometimes.

Thinking about the people who passed away from those disasters, I cannot help thinking that it could be me.  That strongly reminds me that I have to value more of my life, which is kept alive by something greater.

Water and Me

Someone asked me what is the benefit to recognize Japan as a land of water.  The question made me think anew about the water.
By recognize Japan as a land of water, I think I can identify many aspects of me.

Every single thing starts from me as an individual.  If I do not identify what I am, my existence is in doubt.  Within me, I have latent living forces which are handed down from my ancestors.
In order to fulfill my potential in life, I need to know my origin.
I exist as an individual. However, I am so weak that I have to depend on and be connected to the others to live.
I believe I can trace my real origin in water, a universal being, so that the weak can be truly strong, and recognize that the life is supported by something greater.

When I think of water, I can value more of my life.
We need to focus more on water so that we value ourselves more; for we are obliged to fulfill our potential in our lives, which are gifts from something greater.

Poem “Water”

Sunbursts call for birdsongs,
Gentle winds induce refreshing water sound.
The woods start to wake up slowly.

New-born water leaps, makes curves, and flows down
While giving whistles to rocks and trees.

A frog jumps into a river,
a loach dives,
and a crab walks slowly.
Under water is a communal house for everyone.

A butterfly floats,
a dragonfly slides,
and a sparrow chirps to come closer
to a rain paddle from yesterday.

Cames from far way,
Picking up many friends on the way,
And gathered as a big ocean.


A role of clouds

Four years ago, I cruised the Pacific Ocean from Tokyo to Australia. For a couple of days, I saw nothing but water in every direction, and felt that the ship we were in was just floating out to the Ocean.  They said the bottom of the sea reaches a depth of a few thousands meters.  It just made me amazed to imagine how much water on the earth exists.  At the same time, it made me convinced that it required this much water to keep order and balance of the earth.

The sun shines directly on the surface of massive amount of water.  It warms up the water, and make vapors to raise high above to the sky and it makes invisible water curtain.  When it reaches at a few thousands in height, it is cooled down and become clouds. 

Half of the entire earth is covered with clouds, and those make rain here and there.  I have seen it rained from the airplane, and it seemed like ‘Thunder Fairly’ is watering around using sprinkling pot. 

At the same time, the relationship between the clouds and the earth is similar to that of men and women.  The clouds are men and the earth is women.  The clouds call for the rain and nurture the new life.  Looking in that way, the nature is made to be a stage for an intercourse to bring new lives into world.

The water is vaporized by heat from the sun after heavy rain.  Photo by Yu Nozaki

Japanese handmade paper and water

One of the indispensable items for a Japanese culture is Washi, or handmade paper.  Washi has made in various regions for various purposes.  It is a material to record something, to wrap objects, and to form something.  It is even used for interior decorating such as wall paper and Shoji, a paper door.

Differ from paper made of pulps, each fibers are longer and that makes Washi very strong and durable though it is thin.  Mulberry, clove-like bush, and other bushy trees are used to make Washi.  Using right plants are crucial to make a good paper, however, water plays very important role as well.
The paper craftsmen value the quality of water because it has a decisive influence on the production.  Every traditional craftsman owns their water source in the back of their studio, and keeps it for generations.

Japanese soft water, which contains less calcium and magnesium, is effective to make soft touch of the paper.  The temperature also is important to increase density of fibers.  Tap water contains chlorine, and is not suitable to make Washi for it loses thickness in texture.

Ichibei Iwano is a designated Living National Treasure for Washi making.  His Washi is premier, has a silky touch, and even has a sense of dignity to it.  You may think it is a mere paper; however, it is noble art which is backed up with 300 years of tradition.

You can see how he values, is attached, and is picky about his water.  He says, “Water is. This water is crucial for my production, and without this water, I cannot make this paper”.  These words explain a lot.

Proverbs and expressions which related to ‘water’

In Japanese, there are many proverbs and expressions which are related to water.  I wonder if there are as many expressions using ‘water’ as in foreign languages.
Here are some examples.
Yobi-mizu and Sasoi-mizu, or priming water: encouraging something to happen, or becoming a trigger of something.
Chikara-mizu, or strengthen water: water for purification given a sumo wrestler at the edge of the ring immediately prior to his bout.
Mizu wo mukeru, or to direct water: taking a stab at arousing someone's interest.
Mizu ni nagasu, or let the water carry it away, forgetting everything that happened which is somewhat inconvenient or to hurt feeling, or forgiving someone for what s/he has done which would hurt the other person’s feeling.

Those are common expressions that people use them in daily life.  There are many expressions related to water because it is so close and familiar to people’s everyday life.  People do not regard water as just an object, but rather take it as something they have at hand always.  Therefore, they use water to compare something. 

Nearly eighty percent of the land in Japan is forests, and that is where water is stored.  A tree sucks up water about 200L every day.  A willow, for example, needs 190L of water for a hot summer day.  The water comes out to the atmosphere from the tip of the tree as a vapor.  That is similar to a fire hose suck up water and spray all around. 

Thinking in that way, entire country is drenched.  This is why I think Japan is the land of water.

Well, talking about water on the land of water itself is something plausible, for which we use the expression “Mizu kusai”, or smells like water. 

Water business

There always water where people get together.

In those days, housewives gathered around the water well for socializing, and nowadays it may be café, pub, coffee shop, or club.  Water makes for better and smoother communication.

Japanese tea room is not only for drinking tea.  Moreover, it is a place where people sit to quiet their mind.  Under any circumstances, they put efforts to think calmly and make things in the right direction.  The room has simplified and become a place for a host and guests to cherish the encounter as a once-in-a-lifetime one.  As a result, the secret of communication became a level of culture.

Also, we have Sake culture, and Sake wineries throughout Japan compete each other how to utilize the local water for the better taste.  Usually, they use underground or river-bed water to make Sake, and it is crucial for Sake wineries to secure the source of water. 

In Japanese, ‘Water Business’ stands for a place like restaurant, bar, and cabaret, in which they amuse customers offering liquors and service.  The origin of the name seems to come from the liquor they sell.  However, it actually named after the situation that it all depends on the place’s popularity and their income is somewhat unstable; which is the similar to the character of the water which also does not stay still and keep changing all the time.

Even the businesses like Kabuki, Smou, and show business are in that category.  For Kabuki actor’s outstanding performance, we complement it as clear and beautiful as ‘edge of water’.  In Sumo rule, wrestlers are made to rest when a match becomes too long, and we call it ‘putting water in’.  For show business celebrity, we describe a breathtakingly handsome male as ‘water dripping’ handsome.  Therefore, it can be said that the businesses do somewhat related to the water.


Water comes together with time.

In Japanese, we say ‘time flows’.  When I was 18 years old, I wondered and wanted to see how it flows.  That is how I started Ryusuimon.  When I think of water and time, here is the reason why I think those are related.  Time means the changes and transformations of materials on the earth, and if water plays important role to the activities, I thought the way water flows resembles to that of time’s.  I came up with the idea when I was 40 years old, and since then, I kept visiting rivers over 20 years.

My friends wonder why I can keep doing it for such a long time, and ask what attracts me so much.  Yet, it is interesting for me.  It would never be the same.  Every single time, it is different.  If not, it is not a reflection of time.

Time always varies.  It varies from moment to moment.  The reason for the variation is water, therefore, water varies accordingly.  That attracts me a lot.  The variations help things to grow.

“Great Awakening”

Atmosphere shifts and becomes wind.
Wind calls for clouds and create water.
Water flows and becomes time.
Time goes by, and creates beauty.
Beauty brings shimmers to life,
And it awakes one’s inner light.

If you are more conscious about water and time in your life, you can lead a leisurely life.  It is also important to put your work and everyday life in order.