We assembled at the Shizuoka Tokiwa Park in the morning. This day is a bit cooler than the past few days. Fumika Adachi and I were introduced. She will help me with translation today. She is an english teacher and it’s her first time to join the Peace March. The mayor’s message was read in the opening ceremony and Fumika chan conveyed to me that the mayor says the Peace March is a big help in the campaign for a peaceful world. I always hope it would be the mayors themselves who could say their message in person. But then, that might be too much to ask.
We had our morning Peace Call and songs exercise as well. Some young people also joined us today. One of them is a pretty lady who told me she’s a friend of Tiro kun and Bun chan. I am getting rusty with names, sumimasen. The leader of hibakusha also gave his message. His wife is also hibakusha.
Today was extra delightful for the Peace March because we passed by several posters on the streets. We also passed by a soba shop where the owners made a large banner with a pretty orizuru. As we were walking, Fumika told me my name is on the banner. It was a very sweet gesture. So Murata san, Fumika chan and I crossed the road to the soba shop and thanked them personally. Arino Miwako and her husband prepared the banner. They are not able to join the Peace March this year, but she once walked the same route 5 years ago. She is also a member of Shinfujin. 🙂 It was really nice of them. Really nice. 🙂
We walked further and crossed a long bridge over Abe-kawa river. I jokingly asked Fumika chan if the river had something to do with their current Prime Minister and we just laughed. The current Prime Minister is not popular with many from the peace movement because of his desire to revise Article 9 of their constitution.
We also passed by a temple with little buddhas wearing a red bib. My colleagues explained to me that these are called the happy buddhas. They are meant to bring happiness. 🙂 We finished at a park n Mizuho area where we saw a group of elderlies playing ‘ground golf’. It’s my first time to know about. It looks like golf minus the greenery. From here, we rode a car to get to Yaizu City by lunch time.
I saw some more of the happiness buddha when we arrive at Yaizu City. They look cute! We arrived by lunch time and were led inside a temple called Ko Tokou In. Before having lunch, the ladies inside the temple explained to us some notes anout the altar. On the altar was a large colourful sculpture of a male head. They call it a daruma. Darumas are like traditional wish dolls sold in a local festival during February. It is sold in different sizes. A bigger daruma means more chance of making the wish a reality. This one infront of us is the largest size available. Perhaps that’s a strong wish for peace. They also explained that politicians buy several darumas during election period.
We had a study session led by Mr. Narube inside the temple after lunch. I learned that Yaizu City is famous for fishing since the Edo period. The city’s current population is around 140,000. They also produce rice and vegetables, but they are number one in katsuo and maguro fishing. As I shared in my on Day 1 post of the Peace March, Yaizu is the mother port of Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Fifth Dragon) – the fishing vessel that was exposed to radiation from a nuclear bomb test at Bikini Atoll. This is an important place to visit for the Peace March because it was here (after two weeks keeping mum) that the fishermen first reported what they saw and sought help from scientists.
On the temple grounds is the tomb of Kuboyama Aikichi. He is the captain of Daigo Fukuryu Maru and was the first one to die from radiation. He also witnessed the bombing in Hiroshima so he had an idea about the danger of what they witnessed during the Bikini Incident. His brother, who died of disease during World War II, is also buried in the temple grounds.
Narube san also shared that Yaizu’s previous mayor strongly supported peace activities in the city. They have now, however, a new mayor and they are unsure if he is supportive of their cause. They told us that the rest of Peace March is scheduled for a ceremony in the city hall so they are very hopeful that he will support them all the way.
After the study session, we visited Kuboyama’s grave and offered flowers. His tomb marker has an interesting shape. I remember Fumika chan told me that the shape is also reminiscent of the blast Kuboyama saw in during the Bikini Incident. Beside the tomb are two flowering plants with markers. One is from Hiroshima, while the other is from Nagasaki.
We had a short ceremony in an open space beside the temple before marching further to Yaizu Port. We walked through a quiet neighbourhood with many flowering plants and fruit bearing trees! We then crossed a bridge over a wide and shallow river / creek. I am not sure if this river is man-made or altered. We saw a man standing in the middle of the river. He seems to be fishing alone. The river terminates to Suruga Bay leading to the Pacific Ocean. One can see an abrupt change of hue in the water from the river to the bay.
The main road led us to the Yaizu Port. Some of my colleagues pointed where the ship probably docked since there had been changes over the past 40 or more years. The buildings in the area look a bit old but are indicative of flourishing business. We saw a big shop of fish. The shop has a wide frontage and it seems to occupy the whole ground floor. Images of maguro sashimi and otoro came to mind as we walked past. 🙂 Murata san showed me a photo of otoro sashimi a few days back. Otoro is the belly part of maguro (tuna) where the lining of fat is relatively thicker rendering a creamy flavour to the palate. This is included in my personal to do list while in Japan.
Putting food aside, I also imagined how it was like when the Daigo Fukuryu Maru docked at the Yaizu Port. How they were received at first, how the community was alarmed about the news of radiation, and how they were treated after. How the crew might have had a feeling of isolation from their family. Having been out in the ocean for a long time, they would surely miss their family. But given their situation, it must have taken longer before they can spend real family time. What happened to them was an unfortunate life-changing event that they did not even cause. The ship, by the way, was eventually decontaminated and used as a training vessel.
We continued walking on the streets of Yaizu and it was really nice to see welcome banners and more people giving envelopes with kampa. Each town we visit has a different design printed on the kampa envelope. We had cute flower prints before. This time, there’s a happy person holding a peace march flag. 🙂
Some kids also joined us along the way as we marched towards a park near the Yaizu City Museum of History and Folklore. We had a break there. This day is hotter than usual so the cool drinks were regarded precious.
One of the many words I learned and regularly use in the Peace March is ‘daijoubu’. It means OK or alright. ‘Daijoubu desu ka’ is a polite way of asking if someone is feeling alright. One can simply ask ‘daijoubu?’ casually. You will hear this a lot during the Peace March as we regularly check on each other. Another commonly used phrase is ‘otsu karesamadeshita’ which is like an appreciation of hardwork and could also mean ‘how are you?’ or something like ‘you must be feeling tired.’ I asked Takuya kun if he was daijoubu and he smilingly exclaimed, ‘daijoubu janai!’ haha. I learned from there that janai is something like a negative adverb. You say it after an adjective to indicate a negative stance. It surely is a hot day. I’m getting more curious of what we will feel in Hiroshima in the peak of summer.
We stopped for another short break in an area near a power plant. We were welcomed by a group of young men holding a banner laden with large paper flowers! Very cool! From there we headed to a Japanese self defense camp and assembled in a nearby mini-park in Oigawa for our closing ceremony.
This area of Oigawa has many ricefields and greenhouses. Local people joining us during the march expressed their opposition against the presence of a self defense camp in their area. One reason they noted is the noise created when they practice flying their aircrafts. We passed by an ad featuring an air show scheduled for tomorrow. It would be another noisy day in the neighbourhood.