Five Hearts of Japan

June was a slow month for writing posts in my blog as many events were going on, such as my daughter’s graduation. I am also on summer vacation with family here in Japan (within Tokyo area), and traveling about visiting different locations almost everyday, which means there is little chance to sit down and focus on some of the entries currently in the works. Instead, I will go a different route and share a small translation of a message I believe has a great influence on the culture of Japan.

In my parents-in-law’s house there is a small sign I’ve always seen whenever I am there to visit. Entitled “Nichijo no Goshin”, this sign is a list of five points essential to being a good person to others. You can look at it like a creed of some sorts. This is quite a common thing to find listed in schools and establishments, as the Nichijo no Goshin promotes a unified acceptance of behavior the Japanese live with over the years. I never thought too much of this sign, as for anyone who studies the language and culture of Japan will most likely come to the conclusion that the message of the Nichijo no Goshin is the norm. On this trip, however, I started thinking about the roots of this, which spurred me to do a quick translation, followed by some few minutes of research.

The Nichijo no Goshin translates as “5 Hearts in one’s Daily Life”. Think of “hearts” as being a person’s feelings, which directly affects the mindset. While the Nichijo no Goshin is well known throughout Japan, it’s origin is abit of a mystery. Seems that it may have originated from someone(s) of a buddhist background, possibly from the Nichiren sect (日蓮宗) or the Soto sect (曹洞宗). While its point of conception is unknown, the Nichijo no Goshin is symbolic in Japanese society regarding how all can live as a good and happy person.

Below is the typed version of Nichijo no Goshin, followed by my translation.







5 Hearts in one’s Daily Life

· “Yes” is the response of an honest heart

· “I’m sorry” is the response of a remorseful heart

· “I will do it” is the response of an obedient heart

· “I am grateful” is the response of a modest heart

· “Thank you” is the response of an appreciative heart

Let’s go over these 5 points real quick:

  • The 1st point is about responding honestly and truthfully when being addressed. Pretty straightforward…about being straightforward with one’s replies.
  • The 2nd point is about acknowledging when you have done sonething wrong or made a mistake. If one cannot feel remorse or guilt for their wrongdoings, then even if you apologize it will be with empty words.
  • The 3rd point is in regards to taking action and doing your best in tasks given from others. This can be during one’s work, a group you take part in, or even giving a helping hand to one’s parents.
  • The 4th point has a bit of layers to it. Stating this simply, when someone or something interacts with you positively for your well being, you show acknowledgement to that. This can be something as small as someone giving you a hand in finishing an assignment, or pointing you in the right direction when making a delivery. Basically, you are able to make accomplishments, and recognize those who may have contributed to this, whether big or small.
  • The 5th point is being able to show thanks to others. This can be for anything. Simply accepting without showing appreciation may lead to a selfish heart.

I find a lot of value in the Nichijo no Goshin. Although American society has many differences, this is something I would like to bring back with me when I travel home later this month.

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