We had quite a large crowd today. I think this is the highest attendance we saw in Kanagawa so far. The Hiratsuka city office representative delivered the mayor’s message of support.
One hibakusha shared about his experience in the bombing and about his life as a hibakusha. He was 19 years old during the bombing. Tomorrow is his friend’s death anniversary. Perhaps he noted of the fact that his generation is getting older and many of them are dying of old age.
We are lucky today to have the Utagoe group sing for us. They sang Aoi Sorawa together with us. It is always nice to have live music on these kinds of gathering. So aside from our peace call practice, we also had a ‘choir’ practice. 🙂
We reached Oiso City before lunch and the vice mayor delivered the mayor’s message of support. On our way to this city hall, I caught glimpses of the sea in between streets. We were given our own bentos for lunch. And Muratasan led us to the beach just behind the city hall and ate our lunch there. I kept hearing the word ‘umi’ which I learned to be ‘beach’. Yabesan followed and ate a few pieces of onigiri with us.
They told me we were facing the Pacific ocean! It was my first time to see the Pacific Ocean and have lunch on its beach. I observed these tetra shaped blocks on the shores near the road. They seem to have a structural and safety purpose aside from aesthetics. They are huge.
After lunch we walked our way to Ninomiya Park. We passed by the entrance to Oiso Nature trail and saw bird watchers and hikers. It was quite interactive. They were waving hello back and asked up to where the Peace March goes. Someone said ‘Tokyo kara Hiroshima made’ (from Tokyo to Hirshima) and she exclaimed ‘Ooohhh!’ We laughed at how surprised she was – including her. Then they greeted us ‘ganbatte kudasai’ a couple of times. 🙂
We gathered in front of a statue of a lady with a glass rabbit at Ninomiya Park. I was not able
to understand the story about the glass rabbit very well but it seems strongly connected to the town’s wish for peace. />
We walked later on to the Ninomiya Town Hall and the mayor explained that they have a gathering around the glass rabbit statue on August 6 to commemorate the Hirshima bombing. They also display many strings of thousand paper cranes for their wish of real peace.
We also had another speaker, Mori san, who is a hibakusha. He was 3 years old when bombed in Nagasaki. We, the through peace marchers, were also introduced and asked to give short speeches. A peace exhibition at the town hall was also introduced at the end of the ceremony. In the exhibit was several panels about the bikini incident, the bombings in hiroshima and nagasaki, its effects, the hibakushas and what they are currently doing.
Even tough we had a difficult uphill hike to the Ninomiya Town Hall, I liked this place very much because of the overlooking view from the town hall. I think I even liked the place even more because the mayor sang with us with a microphone. 🙂 Good voice!
It was a special night for the three of us (me, Murata san and Keiko chan) as we were invited to stay the night the Yamada residence in Hakone. It was around 30 minutes drive from Oiso. The temperature was colder there like in Baguio or Dubai’s winter season. Hakone is a mountain area famous for a special kind of woodwork. While Yamada san was driving the winding mountain roads, he told us about an annual uphill marathon on the same road. He said it’s longer than a typical marathon. Wow!
They live in a beautiful and cozy renovated house. The original house is more than 100 years old. He told us that in Japan, old houses can be acquired free of charge as long as you renovate it. The catch is that renovating a house that old is way more expensive than building a new one. He showed us pamphlets of JMRI, the organization that helped them acquire and renovate their house. Yamada san also showed us pamphlets of available houses and the renovated houses. I even saw a 200 year old house. Wow!
Their house is a combination of old and new building elements. The builders were able to stay true to the structural intent of the house. They used the original timber frame and then substituted new elements for the weak parts. The house has two levels. On the ground floor is the receiving area with an old school stove / heater; the tatami area, the kitchen, dining, toilet, and bathroom. On the upper floor are two rooms, toilet, Yamada san’s work desk, and a ‘living’ area overlooking the receiving, and dining area. We stayed in the rooms on the upper floor.
What makes the house extra cozy are the tiny toys and stacks of books around the house. The tiny toys sit anywhere in the house in a strategic yet loose manner as if they positioned themselves to greet you and make you smile everyday. 🙂
Before dinner, we walked around the neighbourhood. Near them is an elementary school. A family was playing baseball on the school grounds when we came. They make quite a great team. 🙂
We saw white smoke / steam coming out from different points of the mountain. I have an impression that they are like hot springs. We also saw some cleared land area on top of one mountain. As we were enjoying the mountain vew, Yamada san pointed somewhere in the mountains and said there is a joint US & Japanese military training camp around 50 kilometers away from where they live. They often hear the sound of guns being fired during practices.
Yamada san by the way is an English teacher. He will also help me with translations for the following day. His wife is a member of the city assembly. She has been a member for many terms already.
I like where Yamada san lives. There is fresh air and nice view. Travelling for 30 minutes from the city centre to come home to a place like that is so worth it. In Dubai, it takes around 45 minutes by metro or private shuttle from my accommodation to my office. In the Philippines, it takes around 1 hour from our house to the central business district in Makati. (It would take less than 30 minutes travel when there is no traffic. That happens only during Holy Week or when Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino champion boxer, has a match playing live on TV.)