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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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The Cursed Yuzu
About a month ago I mentioned that my little ditty in praise of the humble yuzu was due to be tweeted by the city authorities in Minoh, in northern Osaka. I don't know why, but the prospect delighted me.

The day after I wrote that post, though, than there was a 6.1 earthquake in Osaka, with its epicentre more or less directly in Minoh City. Three people died, and some cats in a cafe were seriously spooked. With writerly selfishness, my first thought was for my poem - and, as I feared, the city authorities postponed my jolly jingle. It simply wasn't appropriate at such a time. It too, I thought portentously, was among the victims of the earthquake.

But time passed. Earthquakes are common in Japan, and the people are resilient. I quietly hoped that the yuzu would rise again. Perhaps what people need at times like this is a little rhyme in praise of citrus? That's what I was thinking, and perhaps the Mayor of Minoh was too.

Then, on 6th July, devastating floods and landslides hit the Kansai region, destroying homes and roads. This time, 204 people died. Inevitably, once again the yuzu poem has been pushed back.

If I were more given to magical thinking than I am, I might read more into this than I do. As it is, I feel ashamed of myself for not quite being able to shed feelings of chagrin about the poem's non-appearance amidst so much disaster. But, shikata ga nai, as they say in Japan.

Those cats really did sense it coming.

They did sense it coming! But I have to say, they didn't do much with those extra few seconds...

More than 220 people died due to the floods. -massive damage in the past 30 years (we're surprised that the damage was bigger than the earthquake...)
As you know, the disaster like floods and earthquake are happening every time, everywhere in Japan. So we often say "shikata ga nai".
(How do you say? We have no choice? It can't be helped? It seems to me that these are slightly different... )

I think they're slightly different, too. At least, my sense is that in the Japanese expression (at least in this kind of situation) there is a strong element of acknowledging the mighty power of nature, whereas the nearest English expressions - "It can't be helped", "What can't be cured must be endured", "Least said, soonest mended", "Mustn't grumble" - are all about the controlling one's reaction.

Of course, we don't get so many natural disasters here. With our disasters, there's usually someone to blame, and that makes a difference.

I see. also, "Shikata ga nai" is kind of magic phrases for us.
It seems that it is often used by Japanese poeple, even though in everyday life, not at the time of disaster.
For example, let's say, when I am at work and I make some mistakes, I would say "oh... shikata ga nai ne". haha.