The Spirit of Wa
Upon moving to Fukuoka, the city office provided us with a few packets of information, one of which was a garbage guide. Japanese garbage sorting is quite the chore, but the non-optional recycling set-up is good motivation (obligation). It explained that when throwing away sharp, broken objects, to wrap them in newspaper, therefore, caring for the safety of the person who will collect or move the bag next. There was a little speech bubble aside noting that this is practicing the Japanese spirit of wa: looking out for the good of the other.
It doesn’t take long to sense this spirit in Japan.
My husbands’ co-workers go above and beyond to accommodate us and facilitate our lives here. We have sensed the ripples of Japanese hospitality from day one when a group of his co-workers rented two cars for us and took us around the city for an entire day to buy all of the basics to make our house live-able—ALL day, on their Saturday off. They then proceeded to stay and help assemble when we said, “No, please, kudasai, go enjoy your night.”
We later experienced yet another moment—the kind that humbles you with gratitude and pushes you to evaluate the extent to which you consider others. While washing dishes at 10:30 the other night, I heard a gushing sound when I turned on the water. We ran outside to see if a pipe had burst, and our 80-year-old neighbor (who has already helped us in many ways despite the language barrier and made us lovely wooden craftsman pieces for our home) was already there tending to the issue. After he and my husband wrestled with pipes and knobs they finally got the water turned off. At 6:30 the next morning we heard the first bang of his hammer. And mind you, this is after two of my husband’s co-workers have been in touch with plumbers and the real estate agency on a Friday night at 11:00 p.m. Before we could call them in the morning to alert them that the issue was being fixed, at 7:30 a.m. a co-worker, the president of the real estate company, and a plumber—the co-worker with a large bottle of cold water and the real estate agent (8 months pregnant) with a balloon of congratulations for our baby.
So grateful for the spirit of wa.