Today is our last day in Kanagawa. I am excited to see Shizuoka but there is a hint of sadness because I will miss the Kanagawa team. They have been like family.
After breakfast, we headed to the Yugawara Town Tourism Information Center. We were lucky to catch the Sunday Market in front of the tourism centre. They call it ‘asa ichi’. The market is open from 6-9 pm. Every sunday, around 15 members sell local products like fish, vegetables, plants, and even handicrafts. This sunday market practice has been going on for 29 years already. Wow!
On one side of the open space was a stair going up, a tunnel and a ‘photobooth’. Muratasan, Fukushimasan and I took some photos with the photo booth, hehehe. After a few minutes, I satisfied my curiousity by going through the tunnel. I saw a beautiful waterfall at the other end of the tunnel. Another wow of the morning. 🙂
We had our opening ceremonies – around 9am. This time Kenji Katano, head of Kanagawa Gensuikyo, gave the opening remarks. A speech was also delivered by Yuko Nakamura, Secretary General of Hidankyo (Japan Confederation of A&H Bomb Sufferers Organization). She delivered a speech and read book excerpts in Kamakura Shrine a few days ago. There also other speakers followed by the Utagoe singing group. It is always nice to have live music on these occasions.
And so we marched along the streets leading to the edge of Kanagawa prefecture. Chika and her kids joined us at one point! We passed by people smiling, waving and nodding along the streets. We experience this everyday. Aside from learning the messages about our chants, I am also beginning to think of the Peace March as a street parade with warm smiles, waves and respectful nods. 🙂
We had our first break of the day and last break in Kanagawa in an open park. The Utagoe group performed again after the messages from the town mayors, city assembly members and hibakushas. We had song numbers, and an assatte performance by Akira Okuma! Akira san is also the writer of the song Aruite Yuuko. 🙂
We reached a small park near the bridge connecting Kanagawa and Shizuoka Prefectures a few minutes past lunch time. The Peace Marchers from Shizuoka welcomed us. It was quite a big crowd.
As this was the handover, the marchers from Shizuoka assembled on the left side of the green open space. The marchers from Kanagawa stood on the right side. There was an open space between the two groups. Speeches were made and songs performed. Then came a point when the through Peace Marchers were asked to go to the Shizuoka side. We said goodbye to the Kanagawa marchers. The banners and flags were also handed over to the Shizuoka marchers. This hand over rally really moved me and I became emotional. Sniff…
Keiko chan approached me with tears as we bid goodbye. She has been like my sister for the past 13 days so it was quite a tearful temporary goodbye for both of us. She is from Wakayama Coop but she only marches from Tokyo to Kanagawa Prefecture. She relays her march to Nakano Takuya. Takuya kun, 26, is also from Wakayama Coop. He will march with us throughout the course in Shizuoka. In place of a younger sister, I will have a younger brother. Murata san is our constant big brother throughout the march. 🙂
As we started to walk towards the bridge, the Kanagawa marchers sent us off very warmly. Perhaps the fondest memories I have of Japanese people is the way they send you off for another travel. They will wave goodbye until they no longer see you. It is very heartwarming.
We had several uphill streets after we crossed the bridge. It was cool experience to walk along a road with the sea view on the left and mountain cliff on the right. We were also accompanied by some Buddhist monks who recited prayers while we walked. This time, there were less policemen walking with us.
There were two buses waiting for us at one point. It brought us to Atami City train station. We reached the place by mid-afternoon. Takako Kasuya was my translator for the day. She was kind enough to explain many things about Atami City and Shizuoka. She explained that Atami City is a popular tourist destination because of its many hot springs where you can go to enjoy the onsen (a public bath with hot pools). However, the city is no longer in its glory days like before because of the economic stagnation.
We also passed by streets with many closed shops. Takako san said they are called kyukan or ‘shutter streets’ because of the many storefronts with closed shutters. She further explained that many local stores closed because they also cannot compete with the big shopping malls in the suburbs. It was quite a gloomy place to walk through, but we are happy to meet some supportive people along the way. 🙂
Below is a video of our bus ride to Atami while singing Aoi Sorawa (Blue Skies) led by Akira san and the Utagoe singers.