Friday, July 22, 2011

Tsunami Stones

His family perished in the water along with hundreds of others. His beloved town was destroyed beyond recognition. His family home and grave markers were washed away. First the earthquake. Then the waves of water that crushed everything in their path. There was little warning of the tragedy that came ashore that day.

In the midst of his grief, the man desires that generations to come not endure the pain and sorrow that he is going through. They must be warned of the danger of tsunamis! They must not build homes along the shoreline! The man devises a warning system: a marker stone. The year is 1896. The Meiji-Sanriku tsunami has just killed 22,066 Japanese.

Hundreds of these stones are found along the coastline of Japan. Some are more than 600 years old. "High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants,” one reads. "Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis," another stone warns. "Do not build any homes below this point,” an inscription on another stone advises.

In the bustle of modern Japan, many disregarded such good advice, building communities right along water's edge. Perhaps they took comfort in the sea walls built in the 1960's after a smaller tsunami. But in the town of Aneyoshi, a centuries-old stone saved the day. It was advice that a dozen or so households of Aneyoshi listened to carefully, and on March 11, 2011 their homes and lives were spared from a disaster that flattened low-lying towns all around.

A God that loves us infinitely and knows us completely desires that we be spared from personal disaster in this life. He desires that we be spared not from physical death, but from spiritual, emotional and relational death that poor choices and rejection of His ways can bring. His warnings are left for all generations to know and heed. The warnings in His Word are not raging outbursts from an angry God. His warnings are gracious love calls that say, "I am for you. I want you to enjoy everything I have to give you. Listen to my wisdom for your life."

"Today I am giving you a choice between prosperity and disaster, between life and death...Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live." Deut. 30:15, 19 NLT

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Uncool Hero

Another sign of the times in Japan: a new superhero has been born. With the Fukushima nuclear power plant down (melted down), and the mecury up, Japan is scrambling to find the extra energy it needs to avoid summer blackouts. Everyone is being urged to turn off or turn down unneeded electric.

Only in Japan would you find a superhero to champion the cause. Right out of the PR office of Tokyo's Power Company just in time for the peak summer heat comes: Energy Savings Man. He may look cool, but the advice he gives is anti-cool: TURN OFF YOUR A/C (Or, at least adjust the thermostat).

I'd like to say I am Energy Savings Man in our home, but it is Kaori who truly champions the cause. We fight over control of the A/C's going to be a long summer. These days, It turns out that it's COOL to be a little more UNCOOL in Japan.

Friday, July 8, 2011

No Second Opinions?

I was interested to see this hospital scene. That any doctor's opinion in highly vertical socially structured Japan is even questioned is a sign that, perhaps, things are changing a bit.

The Second Opinion window, however, is obviously not getting much business. After hours? Shut down by the doctor's union? Shut down for lack of inquiries? Japanese patients embarrassed to appear so brazen? Perhaps some combination of all of the above. Some things change more slowly in Japan. Somehow I doubt this will catch on fast.