Japanese Saying, Sumeba Miyako

October 14, 2013 Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

The other night I was watching TED online. It was about happiness. At one point he was saying as an example about the people who believe they´d be happier if they moved to a warmer place like California or Miami and they eventually move. He questions if those people will be happier. The answer is no but they try to believe that they are happier than before. 

In the last 12 years, I´ve been moving around, crossed the pond twice even. Because I always had a voice in my head saying "maybe my life would be better in somewhere else". But after crossing the pond the second time, I´ve come to a conclusion that it´s the same wherever you live. People are the same, nice ones, mean ones, cheeky ones, horrible ones, shy ones or loud ones. Just they are in different shapes, colours and sizes. But at the end, it´s about you, as long as you are miserable, you´ll be miserable anywhere you go and vice versa.


When I heard this conference about happiness, a Japanese saying came up to my head. 

Sumeba miyako (住めば都). Sumeba means when you live and miyako is a city or could be translated as paradise. In English "There is no place like home" or "To every bird his own nest is best".  

sumeba miyako 2


Although you live in a small room like this.




sumeba miyako 3


Or you live in an underpopulated village. 




sumeba miyako 4


Or you were born in a big city and live there all your life. 



Where you live is your home in a good way and a bad way. Even it´s an isolated and inconvenient place, once you started living, you get to know people and perhaps some nice details. The place becomes your life. That´s Sumeba miyako.


There is a bad interpretation of this saying. People sometimes get confused with "It´s good to live in a city" since Miyako can be understood as a city. But it´s wrong.


How´s your city? You may be new to the place and feeling lonely. It takes time for the place to take you in and for you to be comfortable. Even though you leave a place behind because you didn´t feel it, it´s always somehow sad and start remembering good things. Then you think, hey, it wasn´t actually so bad. Yes, because Sumeba miyako.

I too am currently trying to find my spot in this city and I will make it as my Miyako.   



More Japanese saying

Hitono furi mite waga furi naose

Saru mo ki kara ochiru

Karasu no gyouzui

Mizu ga awanai

Uso mo Houben

Neko no te mo karitai

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