Greetings everyone. My name is AJ Taimanglo and I will be representing Guam in the Peace March to Hiroshima. Though today was my first day of the Peace March, I arrived on May 18th at Narita Airport. I was fortunate that Kajihara san met me at the airport and escorted me all the way to Yugawara which was about three hours by train. Kajihara-san’s English is excellent and I can’t express how grateful I am for his help. After the long trek to Yugawara, we finally arrived at a Japanese style inn or ryokan, and I was greeted by Gensuikyo and its affiliates. I was treated to a traditional Japanese dinner complete with bottomless Asahi beer. The hospitality of everyone here is incredible and it’s hard to believe that I left home. At the dinner, I finally got to meet fellow peace marcher Magiting. He shared with me his experiences thus far and offered me really good advice. I also met Takeda-san and Tanaka-san. They are both Peace Marchers who started in Tokyo and will be completing the whole march which ends in Hiroshima. Both are an inspiration as they are significantly older than I am, yet are driven and passionate to complete the march for the sake of peace. After dinner and talking with everyone, I was able to enjoy a hot bath in the ofuro and head to bed.
Yugawara to Atami, Shizuoka
We met around 8:30am at a nearby bus depot. The turnout was remarkable and it was amazing to see so many people invested in this movement. It was also nice that Magiting and I got to march together towards Shizuoka. After nearly two hours of marching, we finally got to the point where Yugawara and Shizuoka meet. There we were greeted by many Shizuoka marchers. Here the transition was made and the baton with the hanging pennants from each city was given to the Shizuoka marchers. The pennants are given by the mayor of each city that the peace marchers pass through. These pennants show that the city condones the cause for nuclear abolition and it validates the incredible work of Gensuikyo and the other organizations that work towards peace. It was also here that Magiting passed the 2014 International Youth Relay Peace March Flag to me. During this transition, I was struck by a testimony that a Hiroshima survivor or habukusha delivered to the crowd. After the many years of pain and suffering that she endured, her one wish was that this tragedy never be forgotten or repeated. This first day alone I have met many habukusha and it is a complete honor to be in their presence and march alongside them. They are nothing short of amazing for surviving the atomic bombs and choosing to devote themselves to this cause. After Magiting passed the flag, we said our good-byes and parted ways.
As the marcher for Shizuoka, our first destination is the city of Atami that translates to ‘hot sea’. I am fortunate to have Kasuya-san as my interpreter. Like all the peace marchers, her tenacity and kindness is infectious. I have learned so much from her in the past couple of hours and we discuss many issues such as politics, the history of the Peace March, Japanese customs, etc. We marched for nearly two hours in Atami. Along the way, we follow a van with a PA system that can be heard for miles. The emcee in the van speaks to the public about our cause and leads the peace marchers in a peace call of sorts in which we respond with, “Ii ne!” or “Ima desho”. Ii is a Japanese term that is used to generally describe things as good. In the context of the Peace March, the emcee speaks about the positive outcomes of nuclear abolition such as a safer future for our children in which we all respond, “Ii ne!” Ima desho roughly translates to ‘take action now!’ The march can be grueling but the spirit of everyone present and their enthusiasm really helps everyone to push through and remember the purpose of this peace march. I brought a small African djembe drum on this march and it’s fun to play alongside the composer of the Peace March songs while we march to our destination. His charisma is unbelievable and he really has a talent for uplifting everyone’s spirit.
After our two hour march, we drove to the next ryokan where we will be staying at. Again, we had an amazing traditional dinner and I was introduced to the Gensuikyo members of Shizuoka. Again, Kasuya-san helped me to understand everyone and she spoke about the many social issues in regards to war and atomic bombs.
Today has only been my second day on the march and I’m learning so much. I am completely honored to be apart of the march and I am learning so much along the way while getting to know so many amazing people. I am excited as to what lies ahead. I must thank and commend Gensuikyo not only for their superb hospitality but for their conviction in making a change for peace.
Mata ashita! Ganbarimasu!