It’s nice to wake up today smelling nature and the sound of the sea shore. The feel of the futon, the rice-like filling of the pillow, And the feel of tatami mat in your feet.
We had our breakfast here at ryokan and it is still very delicious. They served some skewered dried fish, egg, vegetables and many more. Plus the famous natto. Natto is a fermented soybeans. Its taste is very rich and even richer when you combine it with egg. I tried it before in Hiroshima. Natto is usually served during breakfast, it has a bit pungent smell because it is cultured but very, very safe to eat. I’m just not in the mood to eat natto today because the taste is too rich for me. And I think I cannot finish one bowl so I just left the natto.
During our morning preparation, my fellow marchers gathered around the laptop to see Takeda-san’s pictures from the previous Peace March. He also has his web page takeda-a.net/.
We proceeded to Miura City Office to have our opening ceremony for today.
In the park we saw a crane monument. Paper cranes symbolize good luck, long life, wish for recovery. It was popularized by Sadako Sasaki who was 2 years old when she was exposed to atomic bomb radiation in Hiroshima during World War 2.
She developed leukemia and at age 12, she began folding paper cranes and her goal was to fold a thousand. She only made 644 because she is too weak and eventually died. So her classmates vowed to continue with her goal.
Another story is that she completed a thousand but her wish did not come true so she folded another bunch. And this inspired a lot of people. That is why during the Peace March a lot of families give their offering to the Peace Marchers and we will carry these paper cranes to Hiroshima and offer it on their behalf. In Sadako’s monument in Hiroshima you can also see a lot of paper cranes. Those offerings came from different parts of Japan. I hope I can offer my thousand cranes someday. I’ll make a plan for that.
As for the Peace March (Tokyo-Hiroshima Course), it only covers 800 kilometers, so it’s close to a thousand. And we are proud to say it has more than a thousand participants in 2 prefectures alone. And we are just starting. I think the Peace March is a very monumental event for many people in Japan. Everyone who participates feels proud in joining this event.
The city officials gave us a send-off message. We passed by a commercial area. It is a small street and all the shops are still closed. The street is also lined by shops that process fish. The fishes are sun dried and packed for delivery.
Misaki is part of Miura. It has a fish harbour where processing of caught tuna are made.
You can also see on the hills along the road vast tracts of land covered with plastic. Creating greenhouse to make the plant grow better is a common agricultural technique in Japan. It protects the plant from extreme sunlight while at night it traps moisture that turn into water that drips to the plant. There are thousands of rows that you can see. I think some of the vegetables there are daikon and cabbage. I saw a stall on the side of the road that sells cabbage as big as my head for only ¥100. And also daikon or radish that is as big as my arm. It is quite cheap and very fresh.
There is also a farm full of cabbages like water lilies floating on water. Because of the big leaves, it is like a pool of cabbages where you can swim.
We walked thru a steep uphill road. It’s good that it has 4 lanes so we did not cause so much traffic. We stopped by a train station where we also had our lunch.
We also have to use the train station’s toilet. And here in Japan, you can go inside the station especially if you are just looking for someone or something, or you can use the toilet without paying for the ticket. This is good because station personnel usually believe your word and trust you that those are the things that you will do and not to ride the train without paying. That is how honest and trusting the Japanese are.
Moving on to a park near Negishi, we were welcomed by a lot of members from Yokosuka groups. I also met Chizuru Ono from Kempo – a group that advocates the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.
We passed by the area with a lot of mass housing. It’s like a mass housing project in the Philippines. One of the current problems in Metro Manila is providing liveable dwelling for a big number of informal settlers (slum dwellers). Relocation is one of the solutions but those relocated eventually go back to the city again because of so many factors such as accessibility to workplace and affordable transportation. Living conditions in the resettlement areas are very poor as there is no guarantee for drainage, water and power supply, health services and basic education for the children.
As we march along the fences of the Yokosuka Base we passed by the area where former prime minister Koizumi lives. Ono-san told me that there are a lot of Koizumi right wing sympathizers there or the conservative type. Koizumi belongs to Abe’s party. And also we passed by Koizumi’s Office. There is a banner in front that supports his son who is currently a senator.
Ono-san also told me that Koizumi is against nuclear power start up, but he belongs to Abe’s party, so they don’t know who he really wants to support. Abe government wants to open some nuclear plants soon.
We also passed by the busy Yonegahamadori. It is lined with so many business establishments and is near a train station. There are also a lot of American soldiers and civilians walking around and waving at us. We stopped by the Yokosuka City office where we were greeted by city hall officials. I delivered some speech in nihongo that I have with the help of Ono-san.
I was also asked by Kasaki-san to speak in front of the base. As we approached the main entrance of the base, I was a bit nervous because it was my first time to speak at any anti-bases public action. And it is in front of a US base. There were some soldiers taking notes. And there we had some ‘iine’ and ‘imadesyo’ moments. I had my short speech in English. I said, “Thank you Gensuikyo for the chance to see a lot of bases in Kanagawa. The bases here are beautiful and big, I wonder how much tax money was spent here, while the tsunami victims in Fukushima still live in temporary shelters. I hope you leave this place and return it to the Japanese people. And please if you get out, please use your own money. US go home!” That is just what I remember.
After that we had some photos taken. And we saw the ships and submarines of the Japanese self-defense forces. We cannot see the US ships because it is on the other side of the mountain. The Yokosuka Base will celebrate its 150 years from being a Japanese Imperial Force Base to a US Naval Base after WW2. Many nations want this area because, like Subic, it has a deep port so big ships can go straight to the port itself.
We ended our march in Verny Park where I saw a lot of American tourists walking.
I met Mr. Shirai Hisao. He always carries his camera. He is a former journalist at NHK. Now he is a freelance writer. I’m happy that he gave me a sample of his documentary, “A Phantom Voice”. It is a story of the victims of atomic bomb in Hiroshima. In another time maybe, I will scan and post it here for you to see.
He showed us the map of the Yokosuka base and the visible dock of the Japanese self defense force where we saw the submarine and the patrol boats of Japan. On the other side which is not visible is the big US naval dock and the USS George Washington aircraft carrier.
While on our way to the van, we joked about the overhaul of the USS George Washington. It will be returning to US next year to be repaired, but it will be replaced by USS Ronald Reagan. So in their campaign rallies, they will just change the name of Washington to Reagan. And we hope this won’t happen anymore.
People in Yokosuka and neighbouring cities complain of jets flying above them. Noise is created even if it is already high, what more if it flies at lower altitude. US forces do this often as part of their training. The jet will fly from one base to an aircraft carrier. So they make Kanagawa Prefecture their fly zone practice area. These activities show lack of respect to the people living below their fly zones, and putting those residents at risk to noise and possible crashes. I hope the Japanese government listens to the people living around the base.
We stayed in another ryokan or japanese style house. We are again treated with a new set of dish as flavorful as yesterday. Really sumptuous! Oishi desu!