Recently, the Japanese word MOTTAINAI has been paid attention by foreign countries. This is because the word can be useful to emphasize the importance of reusing resources and prevention of environment. We can’t translate this word completely in English, but I dare to say it means that we should be careful about the things which are still too good or useful to be wasted or thrown away.
In my childhood, my family and people around me always told me that I shouldn’t forget feelings of thanks. For example, I should eat every last grain of rice in the bowl, thinking that all the people related to a food. Even in a drop of water, the Japanese believe in spirits of nature and many deities. Some Japanese think God dwells in various kinds of things. Then I would like to refer to the Japanese faith in eight million deities. Eight million means an infinite number in Japan. We Japanese have been taught gods exist for everything.
While foreigners are interested in the word MOTTAINAI, the Japanese seem to gradually make little of it these days. The Japanese tend to waste more things than the old days. Indeed, the problem of disposing waste materials has become serious in Japan. Recycling resources such as plastics, empty cans and bottles are widely collected at many places in Japan. Practicing recycle is very important, but furthermore, we should bear the real meanings of the word MOTTAINAI. It means we must be more attached to everything around us, because all the things have each spirit of their own in Japanese traditional believes.
by Sakiko Maruyama