I am writing this post while we are on a 1 hour van ride from Suruga shores to Fujinomiya city. We are spending the night at Fujinomiya City. I am excited as Takuya kun told me that Fujinomiya is famous for yakisoba. Tonight is the night I will eat real of real yakisobas. 🙂
I was able to prepare early this morning and waited at the lobby of a hotel in Gotenba. A very kind guy approached me and gave me postcards of Mt. Fuji. He marched with us yesterday and today. He told me it will be a sunny day today and we might catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji. It was only then that I looked out the window and there I saw Fujiyama (Mt. Fuji) without the clouds! It was just infront of me all along. Wow!
A shuttle picked us up from our hotel and fetched many other participants on our way to Camp Fuji – an American base at the foot of Mt. Fuji. We had a short tour of this area yesterday but it was getting quite dark. (You can read additional bits of information from the previous post.) So today we walked along the edge of Camp Fuji all the way to a tourist information centre. We rode the shuttle again to get to Gotenba City Hall.
The city representatives of Gotenba welcomed us warmly. For the first time, all of the Peace Marchers of the day were able have a super group photo. We took advantage of the ramp! So here you have below the Peace Marchers at Gotenba, Shizuoka together with the city office representatives! 🙂
Our next stop was Numazu City Hall. We were received by city office representative and leaders of the city assembly. They informed us that the city’s Peace Declaration is posted in the city hall’s garden along the road. This is new for us so we went to that part of the garden after the program. I found signages on each side of the path way so I took snaps of both. Masahiro kun explained that the white, vertical signage contains the peace declaration while the blue one (with illustrations of people in uniform) is an invitation to join the country’s self defense group. Different interpretations of peace comes to mind. 🙂
As walked along Tokaido, my colleagues pointed some stone markers. Masahiro kun said these are distance markers for travellers (mostly samurais) during the Edo period. These also served as landmarks for inns / ryoukans where they can rest or spend the night. We also passed by several small buildings made of stone. Masahiro san and Takuya kun explained that these were community store rooms back back in Edo period. It can house important belongings and food of the community.
We had our afternoon break in an elementary school around 2:40 pm. The front building looks old but I saw a signage indicating they have solar panels installed. Sugoi! I also saw an old-school mailing post beside a mini koi pond. By 3 pm, some kids are coming out from their classrooms. They all had big white helmets and a classic kid’s back pack. Very kawai! (Very cute!) Masahiro kun and I were laughing because the helmets look over-sized for a kid’s head. As they ran towards the exit, it looked like the helmets could go off any time. Haha! But it doesn’t. It must have thick padding inside. 🙂
Some Notes on Kids Walking
We passed by several schools since we started the Peace March. I observed that elementary kids normally walk home by themselves i.e. without the company of parents / adults. They cross the streets, walk over foot bridges all by themselves. I find this is admirable. It says a lot about community safety and perhaps child education. I have this impression that the streets in Japan are relatively safer because the parents can allow their kids to go home by themselves. The kids, for their part, have this sense of independence (plus physical work out) as they walk / run their way home with their classmates or buddies. For me, walking is one way to get in touch with one’s surroundings – the streets, the neighbourhood, the community. This is a good social exercise for any age. I hope someday, kids in the Philippines could also walk home safely on their own without their parents fearing for their safety.
On the other hand, this could also mean that parents might be too busy to fetch their kids from school. I remember the two Suginami City assembly members I met in Tokyo, Taku Tomita and Akira Harada. They are lobbying for additional day care centers to support the growing number of working mothers because of harder times.
Our last stop for the day was along the shores of Suruga Bay. From the elementary school, we passed by neighbourhoods and a cemetery. We crossed a major street and continued walking on a trail through the woods. We climbed a path through thick gigantic walls (protection against tsunami) and assembled on the beach. It was like an adventure trail!
We had a study session by the beach. We were informed that we are actually standing on an American base and that the water is used for military exercises. The lecturer noted that there were many metal plates for tanks on this beach a few years ago. Many concerns about the presence of military bases were discussed. Two of them are about the Ospreys and the noise of explosions during military exercises. These two, among others, are common complains of residents near military bases.
For dinner, we went to a restaurant serving popular Japanese delights like yakisoba, okonomiyaki and edamame! We also had something like pork’s innards, beef with soy sauce and sweet-salty dried fish. The last three tasted similar to some Filipino dishes. They were all good beer match too. 🙂
We had a special guest for dinner. Kitagawa san told me a few days ago that a Filipina lady wanted to meet the Peace Marchers. Her name is Mrs. Noriko Yamamoto. She is a Filipina who married a Japanese man while in the Philippines. She is now a Japanese citizen, has been living in Japan for more than 20 years now and is a kindergarten teacher. She told us that she saw the flyers about the Peace March which included a photo of me with a short message saying that I am from the Philippines. This perhaps delighted her and tried to contact the organizers so she can meet the Peace Marchers. She expressed her interest to join the peace activities in Fujinomiya. Sugoi!
This is my first time to actually spend time with another Filipino while in Japan so this night was extra special for me. It was very kind of her to have the time to join us in the evening. I am excited for tomorrow because she will be joining us until lunch time.
Before we went home, Noriko san and the rest of the Peace Marchers signed Murata san’s beautiful banner. This banner is really long and Murata san is adding really nice drawings as the Peace March goes by. I am excited to see this banner posted in the World Conference in Hiroshima. 🙂