We headed to the Shimizu Ward office right after breakfast. There I met Amma san, an 82-year-old hibakusha with a smile as radiant as the sun. 🙂 I believe he has joined the Peace March in his hometown for many years now. He was wearing shades and a wide-brimmed hat. He kept pointing to his hat as he was speaking to me in Nihongo. I think he was trying to say he will give me his hat after he marches.Clockwise from top left: (1) Amma san with the vibrant smile; (2) Peace Marchers assembling in front of the Shimizu Ward Office; (3) Lady giving kampa; (4) Coop members welcoming us as we reached the first stop of the day.
The opening ceremonies started by 9 am. The Vice Mayor read the mayor’s message. Speeches were also made by the leaders of U-Coop, Shinfujin, and the city assembly. Despite the heat, we marched our way through the streets of Shimizu ward. We have been doing the ‘ii ne’ and ‘imadesho’ since the first day and I am beginning to memorize the announcer’s part.
Kampa is also being collected since we started marching in Shizuoka. It is just amazing how we are able to raise a big amount of money in a day. There was one day we collected around 80,000 yen. Sometimes we walk in a quiet neighbourhood and then someone will open their doors or wait at their doorsteps to hand over a small envelope with their kampa. Seeing this kind gesture everyday is heartwarming. I feel lucky to witness this many times.
We had a break in an open space near a train station in Uwahara. We had cold drinks and treats from Coop. This is very helpful. I usually get excited when I see a Coop branch because it reminds me of break time. 🙂
During break time, Amma san brought me and Murata san to a local shop where he bought us wide-brimmed hats similar to his. So this is what he was trying to tell me this morning! Now I have an additional hat to alternate with the red cap I received from Yasui san and the kind people of Japan Gensuikyo. Peace Marchers usually receive gifts from people they meet in each town. Sometimes the presents give me an idea of what to expect. I have received arm protectors, face moisturizer, sunblock, and cold patches for foot relaxation, among others. One time a very kind man gave me insect repellant lotion which I used the following day when we had a program in a garden with mosquitoes. 🙂
Our morning march finished at a nature park in Kusanagi area. The through Peace Marchers walked a few blocks more to reach a community centre where we had lunch. The mothers prepared a healthy lunch for us. They even took the time to make a welcome banner for us. Very kind of them. Some of the mothers are Gakuji san’s english students so we took this opportunity to have practice conversations in Eigo (English).
We resumed our march and headed towards the Kiyomizuyama Park in the area of Otowacho. It was a pretty park with water falls, a big playground and several activity centers. It was quite a brief break for me and Ando san though, as we rode a car with Ohmaki san to reach the Shizuoka City Hall. I was clueless at first but figured it out eventually. The three of us went inside the city hall to meet with the mayor’s representatives. They gave us the mayor’s message, the penants, and kampa. We did the same at the office of the city assembly members. Too bad they were all very busy to join the rest of the peace marchers for a brief ceremony at their city hall grounds. Perhaps next year would be better. 🙂
We were able to catch the rest of the Peace Marchers as they were walking along the busy streets of downtown Shizuoka. The march concluded when we arrived at Tokiwa Park. It is another pretty park with a big water feature and a modern bell tower which played while we were there. The closing ceremony felt upbeat and many people were smiling. The head of tourism department was there to welcome us. He gave his message of support. The leader of hibakusha organization in Shizuoka was also with us and he made a speech. I could never stop saying in this blog how important the voice of the hibakusha is.
The through Peace Marchers were also asked to give a short speech. Somehow, I have memorized some Japanese sentences so I can introduce myself briefly in Nihongo (greetings, my name, age, and where I come from). But I still rely on Gakuji san for translating the rest of my speech. Today is the last day we march with him this year. I will definitely miss Gakuji san and his stories. I hope to see him again.
It was a fun day despite the heat! I am looking forward to more. 🙂