Delving into the Intangibles


Water is a ninja, master of stealth, with an ever-changing face: sometimes crystal snow, marvelous in our eyes; at other times, cotton-candy fluffy clouds in the sky or rain of various kinds. It evaporates when heated, freezes when the temperature falls below zero. Such are the many forms of water, abundant with the super Intangible energy that brings forth life in all of Nature.

For a long time, we took for granted the blessings of water, until recently––say thirty or forty years ago. We Japanese remained content in the thought that “Security and water are both free of charge”; now, belatedly, we have come to realize this was wrong. I myself innocently believed, like others. As a child, I remember my parents pumping out water from a well, and we grew up drinking––and taking for granted––the fresh, cool water it provided. Today, we are obliged to buy water in plastic bottles. During a torrid summer, to ward off heatstroke I must remind myself, “Have I taken two liters of water today?” If I were drinking from a tap, I would be unlikely to calculate in such terms: I would never drink water precisely measuring the amount. Furthermore, I am sure there is hardly a single person who still blithely thinks, “The water is safe.”

With water filters and bottled water in every household, related industries have grown to become a major business sector in Japan.  Water-treatment technologies “Made in Japan” are second to none, and Japan is bringing in a lot of “tangible” foreign currency from them.

I worry that if we forget to cherish the blessings of water, someday it will be exhausted, and eventually life itself will dry up. We might finally realize the importance of water if the price rises as high as 1000 yen per liter. The appearance of “spot” and “futures” markets in water would not be surprising, given its ever-increasing value. “What’s today’s rate?” “Sorry to say, it’s risen a little to 110 yen per liter.” Such a conversation might be heard one of these days.

With high quality, clean water resources, Japan can become the center of the world’s water market. It is a fact that some countries already have their eyes on our country. After the era of the “oil tycoon,” it may be only a matter of time before the “water tycoon” is born.

Tangible topics related to water aside, it is very important to realize that water has an intangible power that is romantic and mysterious, working on our spiritual and day-to-day lives, playing an essential role in the maintenance of life itself. It was the ancient Greek philosopher Thales who said that underpinning all nature, there was water. From now until eternity, it will continue to be humanity’s wellspring.

Finally, let me introduce “The Five Lessons of Water,” which are highly intangible but enlightening. My mother sent them to me from our hometown, written by brush on white paper in beautiful calligraphy. She knew that her daughter was feeling down in the dumps. The identity of the author is unknown, the possibilities as various as the many faces of water: a busho (military commander) of the Sengoku period, or an ancient Chinese philosopher, or a contemporary of the early Showa period…

 1. Water moves and makes others move.

 2. Water never stops, always searching for a path.

 3. Meeting an obstacle, water turns it into a hundredfold power.

 4. Cleaning itself and cleansing others, it absorbs both foul and fair without demur.

 5. Water always retains its true nature, whether as a vast ocean soaking in the heat of the sun,
   or vapor that turns into clouds, rain, and hail, or, when frozen, a crystal clear mirror.

Here, powerfully expressed, is the intangible “Circle of Success”* that I advocate in this website, and which I’m happy to share with you all.

*See: Basic Course