MUSINGS / Jan. 1, 2017

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s Jan. 1 issue.

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Now, what should I write for the New Year’s issue of our paper? I was wondering this to myself on a commuter train at the end of last year, when a man past middle age got on board carrying several paper bags in both hands.

He was in work clothes bearing the name of the company he works for. Most likely, he was making a round to exchange year-end greetings with the good customers of his firm.

A boxed sake of a well-known, superior brand was peeking out from one of the bags. How heavy can seven or eight 1.8-liter bottles be all together? He must have been feeling pain in his arms when the train swayed, but he stood firm, his brows knitted.

I was suddenly reminded of the two comic tanka that novelist Hyakken Uchida (1889-1971) posted on the wall near his front door. “The way of the world / is that you are annoyed when people come visit / but not you” “The way of the world / is that you are delighted when people come visit / but not you”

I would be pleased if the former applied to me. I would feel dejected if it were the latter. I am quite sure that having it both ways — bitter and sweet — is the way of the world we live in. I could not say anything on the train, but come to think of it, I can encourage people through this column.

When I see people giving their utmost, I want to pray that they are rewarded. If they are about to give in, I can encourage them to give it another try. I wish for Henshu Techo to be a column that stands close to the ordinary people and their bittersweet lives.Speech

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