Today’s program is very appropriate for the weekend. I had a feeling that the cities we visited today were relatively posh because of their modern looking public / civic buildings with well treated open spaces.
We started from Komaki City Hall and finished at Kasugai City Hall. Since it is a weekend, you can expect less attendance from government officers and municipal workers. The bright side is we have additional feature performances and more participants in the Peace March because there is no work or school. Nevertheless, many representatives from the respective city halls showed their support. They expressed their mayor’s messages with a smile. It seems they were enjoying too. Perhaps because it is the weekend. Or maybe the taiko? Or maybe they also enjoy being with us. 🙂
The opening ceremony started with an awesome Taiko performance at Komaki City Hall. Taiko is traditional Japanese drum playing. It is a group performance where the taiko performers usually wear all black. I saw some performers wearing those black fabric shoes similar to what ninjas wear in Hollywood movies.
The second taiko performance was in a town square in Kasugai City. I forgot the name of the place but I remember this square very much. It is a well designed space with a skywalk connecting several buildings on the second floor. (In Japan & Philippines, the first floor is the level resting on the ground. ) In the UAE, the ground floor is the level resting on the ground. It is considered zero and the floor above the ground floor is the first floor.
When I was in the Philippines to renew my visa to Japan, I was always checking out the Facebook page of the Peace March in Aichi Prefecture. I was envious when I saw photos of Taiko performances. I was thinking I must be missing a lot in those 10 days of absence. But today, I saw two Taiko performances! Ha! Atlast! As an english expression goes: ‘When it rains, it pours!’ We saw a Taiko and Assatte performance in the morning and another Taiko number in the afternoon.
Before reaching the Kasugai City West Community Center for lunch, the through Peace Marchers and some leaders of participating organizations stopped by a Japanese Self defense air force camp to convey their message to the leader of the camp. Kobayashi san, one of my translators for the day, told me that their strong demand is for the air force camp to refrain for conducting air shows because it produces a lot of noise in the area and that it is prone to accidents. A couple of officers ushered us to a fenced portion of the camp’s sidewalk entrance where we were received by a representative of the head. It was an awkward moment for me because the officers were not smiling at any point in the short meeting. I am not used being around people with military background.
We had lunch at the Kasugai City West Community Center. It was a very hot day, so the refreshments and the bentos mean a lot to us. Murata san took out his very long banner and asked people to sign it during th remaining part of lunch time. The pretty bnner is starting to get filled up already. Today is also the first time he stretched it fully and we took a photo of it. Many people had to hold it because it was very long and we ended up having a fun group photo opportunity with the banner.
The local Gensuikyo also set up drinking stations at different points so that we can get cool drinks while walking. We get a cup filled with cold tea, drink while walking and throw the cups in a container after a few meters. The local organizers has such attention to detail. They even gave us rolled cold towels at one point in the march. It proved to be very helpful as it refreshed and energized us without having to stop walking.
More kids also joined us today! Yatta!
We finished at the Kasugai City Hall where we had a well-prepared closing ceremony. Representatives of the city office were there as well as four members of the diet in Kasugai Congress. My translator, Tsuchiya Hiroshi san, explained that the organisers invited the 50 members of diet in Kasugai Congress but only a few showed up. Three of them actually joined today’s march.
The through Peace Marchers were invited to a party with the Coop and the leader of city hall employees’ union. We had very nice party food, fun song numbers and sharing of insights about the march. It was an enjoyable party. They even asked me to sing at one point. Oh no! So I just sang the chorus of Aruite Yuuko. 🙂
Mizuno san and Kawai san were also there. They welcomed me when I arrived from Nagoya airport last April 28. I spent the night at Kawai san’s house before heading to Tokyo the next morning. Mizuno san is a hibakusha and I shared her story in my first blog post before the Peace March. Despite what she has gone through from the past, she is now very healthy and activein Aichi Prefecture’s Peace Movement. She is now 90 years old but looks way younger. I admire her a lot.
Before the party ended, Mizuno san shared her insights. She said that the Hibakushas fought very hard so that they will be given compensation by the government. Today, they have free medical care although their population is decreasing. There were a lot of them alive during the 90s.
She also shared her compassion for the victims of nuclear power plant leak in Fukushima. They are also considered hibakusha, but the government has not yet considered them official hibakushas so they cannot claim free medical support. She is very concerned that the victims of Fukushima do not have a very strong voice right now so she wants to support them. The voice of victims in Fukushima is one of the latest issues supported by the Japanese peace movement. Official hibakushas, by the way, are issued an ID card for hibakushas. They can use this to get their free medical service.
Lastly, I would like to share some notes that two translators, Kobayashi Kuniyoshi san and Tsuchiya Hiroshi san, told me about Kasugai City. They are both English teachers in highschool.
There were 2 cities in Aichi Prefecture that received massive destruction from test bombs during the Second World War. These are Kasugai City and Toyokawa City.
Kasugai City was bombed in 1943. The city used to make many weapons during the Second World War that’s why it was very rich. Test bombs were dropped there by American forces because of the weapons factories. Two of the largest weapons factories in Kasugai are still standing right now. One was converted to a university, while the other is now a paper factory.
The city is also famous for calligraphy and cactus production. Their cactus are considered number one in Japan. It has a popilation of around 300,000 and is the 6th largest city in Aichi Prefecture.