What I want to share with you on Candle Night

Hirokazu Kometani

When I was a child, typhoons always caused blackouts in my neighborhood. "Darkness" was taken for granted in those days. Whenever it happened, a big candle would come out of the closet in my home.

Televisions and electric lights were turned off by every family in the apartment building. Everything was calm except the rambling wind blast. All of my family sat around the flame of the big candle. We were closer than usual. Despite the strong rain and wind, I felt safe when we sat close. It was an exciting time for children.

Several years later, when I was a middle school student, I was listening to music on the radio. Then, I heard the news --"One man has been buried alive in a mudslide . . . " I was shocked by the strange synchronicity we were having: I was safe in my bed cuddling in the blanket while somebody was dying in another place. The sense of synchronicity affected me deeply--I prayed for them and felt sorry for somebody I never knew.

Recently, I had a chance to relive the feeling. In 2004, a great earthquake hit Niigata Prefecture in northern Japan. I happened to visit Nagaoka City in Niigata after the quake. It was night on the winter solstice. We lit candles during dinner, thinking of people who suffered from the quake, spending restless nights in the shelters. We had slow time together in the Japanese restaurant where people usually enjoy cheerful dinners. Every light created the space where people feel close, and we had plenty of such spaces there.

It may be one of the reasons I commit so much on Candle Night--that is what I felt in my childhood. I want my five children to feel the sense of unity that I felt, and to nurture such sensitivity to feel closer with others.

Hirokazu Kometani
Chief Executive of Slow Society Association
Messages of Promoters of Candle Night--#4

March 31, 2007