For all the horrors of war, one thing stands up about Ukraine – the flag colors of this heroic country have flooded the free world. Yellow and blue. I must admit that I have discovered the two colors for myself only now through the terrible Russian aggression. I am even longing to wear something in those colors. As I see around me how people through the colors of the Ukrainian flag express support for Ukraine and I agree. It is good. I think of those two colors with sincere admiration. Maybe they won’t even suit me well. Especially yellow has not been included in my closet yet. But I am becoming friend with this color and it is what matters.
Yellow color. Have you ever noticed that yellow is only gently perceptible in the rainbow on the horizon? And do you know that most people don’t like yellow? Many people even think of yellow as a color of infidelity and transience, and reject yellow. But when you start looking for information about how different cultures of the world work with yellow, you will find that for some it may be the color of sacred monasticism, priesthood, for others it may be the color of beggars, and yet for others it may be the color of hope. Yellow for me is mainly the color of summer and the abundance when the fruits ripen and the leaves change. They turn yellow. Yellow is the color of rebirth, change and courage for the new. This is probably the most important news about yellow – that it is a mover! Although it emanates from the colors of the surrounding spectrum and remains out of focus like in the rainbow, when its time comes, it shines like the sun and resembles gold. I’m starting to like yellow.
And how does blue work with yellow? Or yellow with blue? When mixing these, blue is the basic color and interestingly enough yellow is its complement. Oh blue! I’ve always liked you. From light to the very dark. I’m not alone, it’s generally said to be the most popular color, at least since the Romantic era. Maybe the sky is blue and the sea is blue. Water. Besides we all want to be elegant and superior, just people of blue blood. It has the connotation of nobility. For instance I associate blue with the dress of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, as it was depicted by Renaissance painters. Especially the painting The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci is my beloved picture. The upper dress of the angel is deep red lined with green. Maria has a blue dress with a yellow lining. Her bottom dress is soft red. The golden-yellow color shines through on the sleeves and in her womb. Yes, blue and yellow seem to remind me that I too must have the courage to give myself to the mission. It is a calling. Calling to protect life. And it comes also through the color red.
Red. Because it is the color of blood, it has long been a symbol of life and therefore of fullness and abundance. Wealth received from God’s hands. In that sense, red indicates virtue, truth, and sincerity pointing to love. It is unfortunate that the communist countries, especially Russia and China, have stolen red for their ideologies, and we now perceive red with mixed feelings. We don’t trust it. At the same time, we long for red because we want love. We know that without red nothing would be possible. It’s a basic color and we always have it in front of our eyes. The ancient Chinese culture honoring five colors started with red. Then came yellow, followed by blue. The fourth color was white and black closed everything. These five colors also expressed the appropriate composition of the human diet. In Japanese gastronomy, this rule of five colors – goshoku – is the basic rule along with five flavors and five preparations of food. Gomi, goshoku, gohou. It is clever to follow them. As you may know I often talk about these rules. I believe in them.
The color that stands in the middle of the goshoku is blue. In Japan, however, blue is also meant green, because in Japanese there is only one unifying word for the two colors. Ao. For example, the traffic light is ao, blue, even though it shines bright green. It was very confusing for me in Japan, and in my innate stubbornness, I called the color on the traffic lights midori – green, like green grass, for example, and I didn’t mind that the Japanese didn’t understand me. The Japanese tendency to perceive the bond between blue and green finally convinced me that there was something to it. Maybe Leonardo wanted to point out the connection between the dress of the angel and Mary. Who knows. Blue and green come closer to each other also now in this terrible war which Vladimir Putin imposed on the world as a dangerous burden. Green is the dress of soldiers and it can be also blue. Blue uniforms. Blue helmets. The colors speak. Green is a color that is created by mixing blue with yellow. And it is blue and yellow that forms the flag of Ukraine. Things in war are as if all tangled and tragic. After today, tomorrow will come and we will not know what the new day will bring. We may realize how important it is to consciously remember that meadows and forests are also green, or spinach, cucumber, sugar peas and many other gifts. Gifts. Yes, they are all around us.
In these difficult times, we should focus on the gifts of life and also eat well and not be afraid more than necessary. The primary gift we receive as an instrument of love is hospitality. Omotenashi. Cooking well and serving honestly your neighbors will make everybody happy. Both the receiving ang the giving. When cooking, I recommend thinking about colors because your efforts will be more elaborate and what is even more important, your cooking may ideally become meditation. It is good to check the materials through their colors also for a good balance of your meal – other vitamins and minerals are in green, others in yellow, and still others in red. Now to complete the goshoku list of colors we are to add white and black. White is tofu or rice and black is hijiki. Everything what is dark is understood as black, such as shiitake or dark wakame seaweed. Imagine well cooked rice shining white – are you salivating too? If so, that’s good because a lot can beautified through good food.
White. On Wikipedia, they tell me that white is a vague and uncertain color. Color associated with innocence and liberation, as well as absolute purity, and new beginnings. I agree with all this. In our western culture, white is associated with baby clothes, wedding dresses, and a festive table, while in Japan, white is a color through which death is revered more than anything else. Yes, death is also a new beginning. It represents uncertainty. Uncertainty which in Japanese is sometimes understood as aimai and it has always seemed to me that aimai is a value that is widely popular in Japan. I don’t know if the Japanese associate aimai also with the white color, but it is certain that people in Japan like white. It is the base area of their flag. It is a symbol of a kind of un-limitedness, left possibilities and, in a way, hope. And all this is communicated to the hearts of Japanese people every day several times through rice. They eat it in the morning, at noon and in the evening. And they never are tired of rice. They believe it is a gift from the deities. It is a symbol of abundance. It is a sovereign sign of good health.
The last color in goshoku is black. Black is a different shade of white. This is exactly how the Japanese perceive all reality. Nothing is for them only black or only white. The Japanese don’t like sharpness and polarity. Duality. They are not afraid of black color. A nice in between is better for them than a definition. Marking something as absolute is almost an insult. Everything is possible in aimai. The difficult thing is to analyze quickly every situation. Whether one decides quickly is another question. The world and human society are so complicated! We are as if we are not capable to live good lives. Are we missing something? Probably too preoccupied with our individual selves and with our countries, we become disabled. We cannot see the presence of God in what surrounds us. I am reading the book of the American theologian Richard Rohr “Universal Christ” and there are ideas which I like very much. Let me quote a sentence that struck me as an arrow: “God loves things by becoming them.” I guess we should love so broadly and so very much that also we become, through the best we are, materialized in love. Become love.
You probably think I’m mixing colors and food and war and faith – all in one kettle of text. Please forgive me. I am just trying to orientate and calm down, because the horrors of war, which we experience through well visualized news while standing in distance, simply put me, and probably also you, out of our safety zones and we all are suffering. The solution is not to let the colors blue and yellow fade, like the banners around the highway fade in the sun, but to dress them. Eat them. Yes, it is necessary! Eat them. The colors of Ukraine – sharply blue and sharply yellow – you are beautiful!