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Hokkaido and Tokyo

- The concept of Wa -

The concept of Wa (和) in Japan is part of the principle of harmony.


Firstly, social harmony since the term will take on its full importance when it is inscribed in the country's first constitution in 604 AD as "eminently respectable value, based on a principle, which is to avoid any discord".

Deeply rooted in Japanese society, even today, Wa dictates the attitude to adopt towards its neighbor. We bow in respect, we apologize to speak to our interlocutor and we hurry to fulfill our mission to avoid any conflict. We see it every day, from the pump attendant who runs from one car to another so as not to make his customers wait, to the bus driver who apologizes for slowing down at the approach of a red light.

Social harmony therefore, but not only.

Over the centuries, Wa has spread to all of the arts. Refined architecture and furniture, pruned bonsai, fitted kimono: harmony at all levels. Even the tea ceremony does not escape a perfect balance!


Because we are particularly sensitive to this subject, only the relationship with Nature seemed to us to escape this Wa rule. To see the wonder brought by the blossoming cherry trees, one might think that harmony with nature is respected. But here too, human beings like to believe they are stronger than the rest of the living world around them. To fight the tsunami, the coast is dammed to the limit. To build this road, we cover an entire section of the mountain. To avoid being flooded, we channel this stream. In 2015, around 2,500 dams altered the ecological continuity of the rivers in the Japanese archipelago.

You only have to look closely at a Japanese garden to see how much Nature must be mastered here. From the bonsai forbidden to verticality to the twig between the gravel torn off, the plant can only hold on well!


But by dint of wanting to tame it, Nature sometimes responds more strongly. We crossed the Fukushima region. The wounds of 2011 have still not healed. Fully deserted cities, forever polluted soil and water, huge amount of money spent on "decontaminating" and "treating", a radioactive waste management strategy still uncertain, daily exposed field workers and 54,000 people still living in temporary housing in 2019. Dikes and reinforced protection systems did nothing. The nuclear plant did not stand up to the force of the earthquake, the 15-meter wave made only one bite of the facility's security system. When Nature sweeps away from the cuff what Man thought he had mastered.


Rather than stubbornly fighting it, maybe one day we will understand that we have to deal with it more. We are a part of it after all, and harmony exists in its natural state. 


But what is beautiful in the human being is that he has the strength to repair his mistakes. A beautiful illustration in Japanese land concerns the emblematic Japanese crane (Grus japonensis). This bird is particularly famous for its nuptial dance, offering a show combining jumps, acrobatics, calls and graceful neck movements. Couples, once formed, will never leave each other and the courtship displays, reproduced each year this season, strengthen these ties. The degradation of their habitat with the drainage of wetlands for agriculture and industry represents the main threat to the species, now in danger of extinction. But in Hokkaido, thanks to the efforts of a handful of big-hearted actors, the crane population is growing again!



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