「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Invisible threads

By Kip A. Cates


When I first arrived in Japan, I kept hearing my Japanese friends talk about a mysterious red thread called the akai ito. “What’s that?” I asked. “Don’t you know?” they replied. “That’s the thread of destiny!”

In traditional Japanese culture, there’s a belief that each man and woman is connected from birth by an invisible red thread to their true love. This invisible thread is tied to your little finger. If you can find it and follow it to the end, you’ll meet the special person who was meant just for you. How romantic!

Everyone knows about this invisible thread of fate that connects us to our romantic soulmates. But most people don’t know about our other invisible threads ― the global threads that connect us to the wider world.

Some of these global threads connect us to foreign countries. The banana that you ate for breakfast this morning, for example, connects you to the Philippines. The rubber in the soccer ball that you played with yesterday connects you to Malaysia and Indonesia. The octopus in the takoyaki you ate this afternoon links you to Morocco and Mauretania. And the shrimp in your ebi fry dinner last night links you to Thailand and Vietnam.

Some global threads can be found in the words that we use every day. For example, the Japanese word pan (bread) comes from the Portuguese word pao. The Japanese word arubaito (part-time job) comes from the German word arbeit. The Japanese word anketo (questionnaire) comes from the French word enquete.

Other global threads connect us to the world’s peoples. The coffee that we drink connects us to rural farmers on coffee plantations in Ethiopia and Brazil. The clothes that we wear link us to Asian women working in textile factories in Bangladesh and China. And the yen10 coins in our pockets connect us to South American laborers in copper mines in Chile and Peru. Even our money has global threads!

Yet other threads connect us to global issues. The electricity used by our TVs and computers, for example, connects us to global warming and nuclear power. The gasoline in our cars connects us to air pollution and the politics of oil in the Middle East. And the rare metals in our cellphones may link us to ethnic conflicts in Africa and toxic waste in the Third World.

We’re linked to the world by a variety of invisible threads. These threads are found in the food we eat, the words we use, the clothes we wear and the machines we use. One key step in becoming a global citizen is to become aware of these invisible threads and of how they connect us to the world’s peoples, countries and issues.



The Japan Times ST: November 21, 2014

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版