Often we hear a philosophy or belief in a specific culture that makes a great deal of sense. For instance, the Japanese believe that when a person turns 60 years old, they are able to start a new cycle of life. They call this special age, kanreki.
It is a time for people to arrange things in a proper place. Some Americans may call it “getting things in order…or even downsizing.” The Japanese think it is a time of celebration and the beginning of a new life cycle, so they celebrate the 60th birthday by giving gifts that are red and having a party. The gift could be a red shirt, scarf, or even red underwear.
Now the color red is a vivid color that has energy and stands out from other colors. Perhaps this infers that this new phase of life should be taken on with a new enthusiasm and with new prospects for the future.
According to Japanese Society, “achievements are celebrated and a lifetime’s troubles are forgotten as the celebrated individual enters a new stage of life with all the joy and possibilities of a newborn.”
Perhaps we Americans should think more along this line and have more fun. We often hear people say things like “Getting old..or older…is not for the faint-hearted.” This seems pretty pessimistic to me. Life is not over…it is just a new chance at a new beginning.
The Japanese also refer to this year as a Year of Reflection.
60-year olds are expected to use this year as a year of reflection. They are to look at their lives and achievements and use this time as a good opportunity to plan the direction in which they would like to move as they begin their second sixty-year cycle of life. Beyond the Kanreki, they celebrate the Koki (70 years old), Kiju (77 years old), Beiju.(88 years old), Sotsuju (90 years old), Kajimaya.(97 years old), Hakuju (99 years old), and Hyakusai No Ga (100 years old). (from online Japanese culture)
As a Christian, we would say to be “Thankful” for a long life and give God honor for all He has blessed us with in life. The Japanese think it is a time to forget the past and move on…leaving it behind. This seems like a very good philosophy of life. If you are passed the age of 60, you can still celebrate…for you have lived longer. If you are not age 60 years old, dedicate your life to the beauty of living…for the years that you may have before you.
Another thing I read about recently was the way the Japanese look at a snowflake. It is a perfect example of symmetry and each one is different. The pictures below were made by Wilson Bentley.
As you can see, each snowflake has a different shape. We could compare them to the fact that every human is made differently and wonderful. The snowflake is beautiful as it floats from the sky to the ground. The time of its forming until it melts on the ground is a short time. So is life. The days of men and women are numbered and short, but much of life is beautiful…especially if we try to see that beauty. Your life was specifically formed to be only you. Each one of us will live and each one will die…as the snowflake sheds beauty on the world until it is no more.
Even the Japanese cherry blossoms come only for a short time in all their glory. Sometimes they even look like snow drifting …drifting…gently drifting. Shortly they will reach the ground, sharing their beauty one more time.
Try to share your special beauty with someone around you today. Celebrate Life!
Enjoy Kyoto in the Snow video. Turn on sound.
(Taken by Althea Pan)