Monday, July 18, 2011
If there's one word that captures the Japanese spirit, it's "ganbatte." Pronounced "gahn-baht-tay," it means "persevere!', even when things are going against you. People say it to a student studying for exams, to an out-of-breath cyclist struggling to reach the top of the hill, to a figure skater who's fallen for the 20th time while perfecting her double axel. The Japanese admire a the person who just keeps going, no matter what.
The Japanese women's soccer team displayed the spirit of "ganbatte" yesterday. During the first part of the match, the Americans looked strong. But the plucky Japanese team came from behind. I am happy for them. After the earthquake, the tsunami, and Fukushima, they needed something like this to lift their spirits.
We had a neighbor, a native of Japan, a medical doctor who researched retroviruses at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He was a gentle person, very shy and reserved. Every day he'd take his scruffy-looking mutt, "Whiskers," for a walk. He held his head high and moved with quiet dignity, as if he were leading the Emperor's horse. My husband would say, "There goes the 'samurai dog-walker' again."
Tatsuo admired perseverance. Long after our daughter grew up, he'd marvel at her determination in learning to ride her two-wheeler at age seven. "She'd fall off, but she'd get back on again and again."