Today was the hardest course (for me) so far.
The Peace Marchers had an opening ceremony at Kawasaki City Office where the representatives of the city office gave their message of support. Yamaguchisan, one of the hibakushas who walked with us that day also gave a speech. There are around 700 hibakushas living now in Kawasaki City. The hibakushas themselves have local organizations. The average age of hibakushas today is around 80-85. Many of them were in their early teens when they experienced the bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So when you meet a hibakusha in their 70s, they would be considered young hibakusha. They’d be less than 5 years old during the bombing.
The hibakushas, even for their age, are the driving force of the peace movement in Japan. Many of them have dedicated their retirement time to the peace movement by sharing experiences during and after the bombing. They do this around Japan and around the world. I met some hibakushas 2 years ago who tried their best to study english language so they can tell their story themselves.
Today’s course had several uphill and downhill climbs. The uphill streets were very challenging as we were also doing our Peace Call and other chants as we walked. However, I also observed that we made louder chants today. Maybe this is a small example of the saying, “the best in people shine through in the face of adversity.” hehehe.
Because of this, our short breaks were very much treasured. The people from Coop took care of us again. We had sliced fruits, cookies, cold juices, tea, even sports drinks! The Peace Marchers also cheered each other before going back to the March. If we had the trumpeteer Akirasan playing yesterday, we had a duo playing guitar and tambourine today while singing lively songs for us. This helped keep our spirits high even if we were physically tired.
Today, We were also welcomed by the ward office leaders themselves – even the city mayor. Sugoi!
We had our morning break at Miyamae ward where we were joined by a large group from Japan Communist Party (JCP). By lunch time, we met the mayor at the city office. There were refreshments again and also some free medical tests ready.
I would also like to note that we have a Peace Marcher in Kanagawa, Suzuki Kazuhira. This young man who is quite silent, gives us goodies in the morning and other times of the day. I like the canned coffee! Arigatou gozaimasu. Another young person joined us today. Her name was Chika. She translated for me. She was Kasakisan’s student before and lived in New Zealand when she was 15 to 18.
We finished at the Takatsu-ku Ward Office where we were also welcomed by the Ward leader himself. The photo below shows The ward office leader, Kisakisan, and another hibakusha Arakisan, 81 years old. She also gave a speech in this closing ceremony.
Lastly, it seems that we had even more people cheering and agreeing with us on the streets today. Below are some photos of the ones we caught on camera.