This is another cold and rainy morning. We arrived at the Hayama City Hall earlier so we had some time to prepare. Igarashi-san always brings some picture cards. It is an old style tradition of mailing when you go to a tourist place you buy their picture cards and send this to your love ones.
Every day I always see him looking for a postal mail box where he drops his cards. Maybe he has a lot of stamps ready with him. After he drops it, you can see the smile on his face. It is a precious gesture of him that shows how he values every day and every experience he had in the peace march.
I also played around the telephone booth because the door operates on a pulley system just like those weight workout equipment in the gym. When you pull the handle, the weights go up. When released, the weights go down. It is very simple yet effective.
Hayama City is very near the Sagami Bay and they have a mild climate. The city is popular for its Hayama-gyu beef and shiitake mushrooms.
Our morning programs started with the introduction of a 92-year old Hibakusha. We were welcomed by the city’s young mayor Takahito Yamanashi-san. I had the chance to talk to him and he also spoke in English. He said he had the chance to visit the Philippines before. He went to Cebu to do wind surfing. He said Cebu is a beautiful city.
The rain was getting strong and we began to walk so we will finish on time. This is how the Japanese value their time. I was working in an office with an American boss before. He always emphasized that “Time is money”. Here, I learned that “Time is respect”. You try your best to be on time to show respect for other people’s effort to make it on time.
In the Philippines, there is the “Filipino Time.” It is a joke on being tardy and eventually became like a normal occurrence. Maybe it’s because of our “come what may” and relaxed attitude.
Whenever I attend a conference or meeting here in Japan, it starts right on time and must end also right on time. And every morning, I really see to it that I arrive in the hotel lobby on time. Because sometimes whenever I’m late even for just for a minute or two, Takeda-san already talks to the front desk to make a call to my room.
We passed by a tunnel that goes through a mountain. When you travel to Japan you can encounter a lot of road tunnels. And the amazing thing is that it pierces through the foot of the mountain and all the way to the other side. The tunnel is like 200 meters so it provides us comfort against the rain. The traffic slows down a bit because there is only one lane passable for cars and another smaller lane for us.
As we reached the end of the tunnel, we were welcomed by the sign of Zushi City. By this time, the sky was still dark and cloudy, but the rain has stopped. Arigatou gozaimasu!
We were welcomed by the Zushi City Mayor and we were also joined by another Hibakusha from this city. Zushi City, like Hayama, is popular for its beach resorts. It is also a ‘commuter city’ or a ‘bedroom community’ for Tokyo and Kanagawa.
‘Commuter city’ or ‘bedroom community’ is a term for cities / communities with a lot of residents who are working outside their own city. In the morning they commute and go to their work in Yokohama or Tokyo.
I did not know about our itinerary for today that’s why I was surprised to see the flag of Japan and America from afar as we crossed the railroad track. We approached the Ikego Heights family housing. Ikego is a former ammunitions facility of the Japanese Imperial Army and is currently still part of the Yokosuka Base. This base is used mainly for housing of the soldiers and their dependents. The surprising thing here is that it has its own train track that has a fence. It goes thru a tunnel on the other side.
There was not that much pedestrian we greeted today. It might be because of the rain and because this area has a lot of people working outside of their city or town. We ended the morning in front of Ikego and had some little program. Kasaki-san made a speech in front of the base.
After lunch we proceed to Kamakura where I met Mr. Fukushima Yoshiteru. He also walked with Malaya-chan here. He also knows how to speak English so I asked him for some help. There were 9 hibakushas with us and it was a happy sight to have them walking with us. It is really inspiring because in spite of their old age they are still willing to march with us.
The chairman of the Kamakura Hibakusha organization made a short message. He was 4 years old when he saw a lot of victims and lot of them are asking for water. This is a usual effect of having burns. Either they drink or they pour the water to their bodies.
At the end of the road was a big torii in front and a hachimangu shrine inside. A lot of people took photos of us and we are happy because we got their full attention. This area is so relaxing maybe because there are a lot of trees and hills everywhere. This area is a UNESCO heritage site.
We reached the Kamakura station. The station itself has its own design and it actually doesn’t look like a train station. We marched through a nearby shopping street where we greeted a lot of people who waved back at us. Then we proceed to the Kamakura Shrine where we made an uphill climb.
I was very surprised to see a big white Buddha monument. This is the Ofuna Kannon. It was built in 1920s and finished in 1960s. Part of its building blocks came from the rubbles of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to commemorate the victims of the atomic bombings. This was all built by hand and no concrete pumps were used.
There is also an altar where they place the paper cranes. One can also see a flame monument from Hiroshima and the concrete blocks that came from the buildings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These blocks collapsed during the atomic bombings.
Fukushima-san said that this is a special day because we are here in the shrine. I also feel the same feeling when I first visited the Hiroshima Peace Arch and the Sadako Peace Crane Monument, where you remember the sufferings and struggles of the Hibakushas.
We gathered around and had our program. Four Hibakusha ladies read stories. How they read it with feelings moved me even though I did not understand it much. I always remember the stories I read. I also heard about the horror they have to go through especially during the time after the atomic and hydrogen bombs exploded. The illustrations and pictures I saw in the peace museums remained in my mind.
Akira-san gave another moving music from his trumpet. And man, he is everywhere and he is very cool!
A lot of groups also are there. And a lot of Coop members, too. I also met Mr. Yoshio Sato, a Hibakusha who has a very bright smile in his face.
We ended our day with the invite from the Coop members. They are Takashi-san and Nakayama-san are from Coop Pal System. It is an online feature of the Coop where you can do your shopping transactions via the internet and it will be delivered right at you doorstep.
Asami-san, also from Coop, along with Kasaki-san, Katano-san and Yabe-san and 3 of us marchers had dinner together. We had our yakitori treats and some beer. I also found out that Takeda-san is an electrical engineer, and that Yabe-san is also an engineer. I just don’t know what type though. He worked in the Philippines inside the airport and used to work on airplanes.
We ended the night with a train ride to the hotel.