Home  >  Magazine  >  Issue 40 (Summer 2011) : July/Sep 2011  > Columns  >  High Tide  >  A rising tide always follows an ebbing one…


High Tide

By Mitsuharu Kume

A rising tide always follows an ebbing one…


Sage shio no tsugi wa, age shio ja…
A rising tide always follows an ebbing one…

During the always-too-short summer holidays, my parents would take us swimming and sunning on the seemingly endless sand beaches of Kujikuri in Chiba. The ocean wasn’t close to where I was born and raised, so that was always a happy time for me.

Until then, sand for me had meant the square sandbox at the park; now, suddenly, there was unbroken sand stretching as far as I could see. Add to that the incoming, unfamiliar, chaotic waves.

As I built sand castles on the beach, I’d also create tall sand walls to protect my creations from the waves. Sometimes, though, an especially large wave would threaten to wash away the castle, and I’d lie down and try to block the wave with my body.

When it got hot, I’d hang on to my inflatable ring and scream as I floated along, rolling with the waves.

When I think of what happened on March 11, I remember back to those fun days as a child on the ocean. When ocean waves seem to attack people, it’s a very sad thing. Men build things to deal with the uncontrollable, but the fact is even today these things can’t be controlled.

I take photos of sea turtles, an endangered species; I am also involved in research of these fascinating animals. I worry about the future of the turtles, but I also fear that humans will also become an endangered species.

How long has this human animal existed? One theory says human ancestors emerged about seven million years ago. Turtles, though, emerged some 120 million years ago; dinosaurs 300 million; the Earth about 4.6 billion. These are lengths of time of which we really can’t get a sense—they’re just too long.

There was an interesting article about someone looking into blood relationships. The writer’s grandfather was born in the Meiji Era; his grandfather in turn was born in the Edo Era… by making these connections, it’s possible for some Japanese to trace their relatives to the Heian Era (794 to 1192 AD).

“By pursuing these connections, we can say everyone across the country is linked by blood relationships,” the writer noted.

I suppose that’s pretty much a given, but I think there’s something especially important about this today. If we go back further, we can also see mankind is one big family.

Today, the waves have retreated from Japan. But the tide will always rise again. When I remember the feeling I had as I built sand breakwaters to protect my little castles, I hope all of us, tied together by biology, can move ahead in a positive direction. That we humans, too, are just one part of nature.

Age shio ja. The tide is rising: things are moving in the right direction. Age shio ja.