March 30, 2011

Where Jishuku is a Mindset, Not a Necessity

(On the monorail to Haneda Airport.)

I went to Okinawa last weekend on a business trip. I got to trade the dour gray of Tokyo for...

(A doctor's office in Naha, Okinawa.)

bougainvillea-covered buildings and...
(Someone's house in Naha, Okinawa.)

random pops of color spurting from trees.
(An area in Urayasu, Chiba that was weakened by liquefaction is surrounded by bags of sand.)

After being confronted with the reality that my town is facing a looong process of reconstruction in the aftermath of the earthquake,

(A supermarket in Naha, Okinawa.)

it was wonderful to be somewhere that wasn't facing shortages of electricity or food supplies. Look at all that milk!

The word jishuku (to restrain oneself, to act with restraint) has been thrown around a lot since the earthquake. I jishuku-ed from dressing up too much for work, a friend recently canceled a trip to Hakone in the name of jishuku, and people in the Kanto area jishuku from using up too much electricity.

In the face of all this restraint, even convenience stores in Okinawa were dimming their lights, although western Japan is on a different electricity grid and therefore is facing no shortages. But I met an Okinawan filmmaker who put things in perspective: "Areas like Osaka and Okinawa shouldn't jishuku to simply show solidarity with the rest of Japan. We have to keep creating and producing and do our best to provide even a little bit of laughs or entertainment."

Perhaps in the long run, that would help shift the balance of power from Tokyo to other regions in Japan.    

1 comment:

Alex said...

Sachiko - I am coming to Japan to investigate the concept of Jishuku. Do you have time to have a conversation with me about it?