Haiku reflections on Japan

Poetry and Happiness

World Poetry Day

today can I think up a

nice new haiku folks?

 

Or can you?  Well, it`s World Poetry Day today and as I work in a bookshop we`re going to have a poetry reading this evening and the window is displayed with poetry books – a blend of international and national poets.

I wonder if they are celebrating this in Japan, whether in bookshops or universities or schools?   It`s probably not a well-established day just yet around the world.  I know from one of the blogs I`m following that it was Museum Bloggers Day lately and yesterday, the 20th of March, was World Happiness Day.

I went to my local gallery the night before that to watch a film called Happy.  Anyone seen it?  People from around the world in different situations talk about what makes them happy every day.  It was very touching.    However, one story was not so happy and it was about people in Japan dying from overwork – karõshi (過労死).  The woman they interviewed told how her husband always seemed exhausted and depressed and then at work one day he collapsed and died while making a phonecall to a superior about a technical problem. It`s so sad that people are this pressured by their work that they end up dying because of it.   A separate interviewee, also in Japan, told the interviewer that his job was more important than his girlfriend when asked why he was celebrating his birthday with his colleagues instead of with her.  `They invited me and anyway work is more important` to paraphrase what he said.    To counteract this, they showed an old woman in Okinawa who was 106 years old and was really happy to be alive and could be seen in the video enjoying watching very young children have races in the road with other kids.   The other old ladies also seemed to enjoy their lives.

That was very sweet but because Okinawa considers itself to be separate from Japan in history, culture and language etc, I think they could rather have shown someone from the mainland, other than this lady whose husband died and the birthday guy, who did not give into this obsession with work and was happy with his or her lot while not living with much.    They could have gone to Hokkaido which is I think a fairly chilled back island despite the big commercial city that is Sapporo.  They could have gone to an organic farm anywhere in Japan.   Sure, farmers, organic especially*, work as hard as people anywhere else but I don`t imagine there are too many cases of karõshi about because they are not eaten up by consumerism (consumed by consumerism) and tend to make time for non-work activities (just as many people around Japan probably also do, the film just focused on this phenomenon to show a contrast I think to the others).

By the way, this film was only produced in 2011 so it is quite up-to-date with its reportage of karõshi.   I guess the recession in Japan in recent years has led to people wanting to work even harder to keep their jobs and life, in Tokyo for one, can be really expensive property wise, so a phenomenon that  started a few decades ago is still, unfortunately, continuing.

* They won`t have as much machinery to do the work and not as much pesticides to keep their produce in check, not to take away from traditional farming which is tough as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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