This is one of the most vibrant days I have attended in the Peace March of Aichi Prefecture.
Today’s venue for the opening ceremony is the Nakamura Park. The park covers a large green area housing a temple with a large water feature behind. Inside the park is Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s birthplace marker. Hideyoshi Toyotomi is one of the three popular emperors of the Edo period. There are several monuments and images of him at different parts of the park. As Murata san and I explored the park, we also saw a large group of elderlies practicing taichi!
It’s a sunday so we are again lucky to catch the asa ichi (early morning sunday market) along the street heading to Nakamura Park. The extent of the asa ichi starts from the Nakamura Park to the gigantic torii several blocks away. While waiting for the opening ceremonies, Muratasan and I explored the fresh produce on sale and these are what we found.
I was also introduced to another Filipina, Josephine Ichikawa, she will be my interpreter for the day. She works with the local police station as an English and Filipino translator. She has been living in Japan for more than 20 years already. I also learned from her that there are many other Filipinas living in Nagoya. Many of them are married to Japanese husbands.
And so we started marching past 9 am. It was a fun march as we walked through the asa ichi up to the giant torii. Many old folks were waving back and signed the appeal for peace. And because it was a weekend, people were more relaxed and paying attention as compared to when we march along busy streets during weekdays.
Our first break was in a park. It seems to me that there is a common feeling of exhaustion that early because it is a hot day. I brought with me a pack of local chocolates from the Philippines and decided this break was the best time to pass it around. 🙂
We marched back to the main street after the break and passed by a street that used to be a river. Josephine san conveyed Run san’s story about the special feature of the street. He told us that about the Kappa, a creature similar to a merman from local folklore. It used to live in the river and has a water container the size of a salad plate on its head. He says if the container loses water, the Kappa will die. We have a similar merman legend in the Philippines called Siokoy but it lives in the sea instead of the ocean. The Kappa statue I saw looks more slender and less frightening than the Siokoy.
As we approached our destination for lunch time, we passed by the a very big military looking vehicle. The vehicle is covered with camouflage print, has a Japanese flag and plays really loud music. Really loud. And it stopped right beside where the Peace March passes by. Josephine san explained to me that they are the group who are very loyal to the emperors and advocates Japan’s regaining of its strong military powers as against article 9. So they are on the opposite side of the table from us. I became more curious and asked Josephine san if the Peace March passes by the same group every year. She said she was not sure. But she was certain that this same group plays such loud music in the same area every weekend. After this, we also passed by a man who looked indignant and gave is his thumbs-down with feelings. This though, was compensated by people strongly waving with support a few meters after. How great is that!
Realisitically, Peace Marchers also pass by people not in favour of our cause. Many wave back in solidarity, in awe (especially when they learn about the course), in enjoyment of seeing us, with fun (because of the ii ne and imadeshoo we shout) and nod with politeness. However, we also encounter indifference and sometimes indignance maybe because of traffic or because of difference in opinions / perspective.
We reached our lunch time destination and ate lunch in a ramen place in the sprawling underground shopping area of Meitetsu. My stomach started to get worse after lunch. I went to the toilet right after eating and my stomach grumbled again right before we started marching. That’s when I realized no amount of banana can help me that moment and asked for help. Good thing, the Gensuikyo team was very helpful. Josephine san accompanied me in the van as we followed the peace march.
I felt regret for being sick that time because this part of the day is one of the highlights. As we passed by the the main street leading to Nagoya City’s Central Park, I regained a bit of strength and joined back the march until we reached the Wakamiya Park. This is where the Peace Action is held. More than 700 people were there.
The Peace Action is the culminating activity of the day. More than 10 different groups started marching from different points of Nagoya and all of us met at the Wakamiya Park for a celebration and interaction with the Hibakushas. There was even a group of peace marathoners! It was like a Peace concert and everyone will cheer when a new group arrives. Another fantastic part about it was that there were many younger participants. Some of them I met were even dressed in costumes. A youth representative also read an open letter while music was played on the background. My mother told me that the Peace March in Aichi is one of the most vibrant. I guess I agree with her. The Peace Action was really great.
Today’s feature image on top were the happy faces around me during the march.
Hirakiza, a group of performers using drums, played Korean style percussion rhythms that made the proceeding march so much more fun. Having live cheerful music during the march attracted attention and it was like party mode on a weekend. 🙂 Hirakiza played many beats that sounded similar to Ifugao music. Ifugaos are native tribes living in the Northern part of the Philippines. I was imagining Ifugaos dancing with us while we were walking. Josephine san and I were even doing some simple Ifugao steps while we were walking. 🙂
After the Peace March, we headed to the Aichi Gensuikyo office and attended a gathering with the youth and hibakushas. Prof. Shoji Sawada, a hibakusha and Professor Emeritus at Nagoya University, was there. I was excited to meet again the younger people I marched with in the afternoon, but we had to leave earlier because I needed to go to the hospital. Too bad.
At the hospital, the doctor said my body cannont cope with the combined load of the Peace March and my fever even if I was taking strong medicine. The antibiotics upset my stomach causing the stomach problem. The sad news for the night was that I was advised by the doctor to have complete rest until I’m sure I am fine.
So even if my will is strong, I must heed the doctor’s and Gensuikyo’s advice. 😦
On a positive note, I am happy I saw the Peace Action today. 🙂