May 26, 2014
On this day, we started in Fujieda City. Here I met Eda-san who is another interpreter. Her son lives in Tinian which is a neighboring island of Guam. Eda-san translated my morning address to the people of Fujieda. After our usual morning introductions, we set out to the city of Shimada where Kasuya-san lives. Our way to Shimada was pretty difficult since we didn’t have a break. It was the first time that my feet really started to hurt. After two hours, we finally made it to Shimada and we were greeted by one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard. There were several koto players accompanied with a small choir. A koto is a traditional Japanese stringed instrument that is placed horizontally in front of the player. I was amazed by how in sync all the musicians were. I got the chance to try and play it and it was extremely difficult to pluck the string and push on it for vibrato simultaneously. It was privilege to hear them play while we ate lunch.
After lunch, Kasuya-san took me to her house so I could get the chance to see how Japanese people live their everyday lives. Her house is beautiful and I was amazed to learn that it is over 100 years old. Although the house has been renovated, the original beams are still in place. I could tell that she takes pride in her home judging by the photos of her family members and the things she and her husband made themselves.
Our next stop after lunch was to Omigachi Park. During WWII on July 26, 1945 at 8:46 am, the U.S. had dropped a pumpkin bomb on Shimada. Instantly 33 people died and many others were injured. This bombing occurred before the ones that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I was told that the time of the bombings was calculated to drop around 8 or so in the morning since that was when most people were out starting their day.
Our next route took about three hours and we crossed a bridge that runs over Ooigawa River. Along the way, we passed a bridge where there were lots of koinobori streamed across a smaller river. Koinobori is a streamer in the shape of the Japanese koi fish. The last stretch of our course was up a steep hill in Kanaya where we had our ending ceremony at nearby shrine.
More and more each day I’m learning how severe the bombings were on Japan. As I’ve shared in previous blogs, majority of those who respond to us are the older generations. I’m sure this has to do with the fact that many of them have lived through war and know first hand how terrifying it is. I am hoping that younger people will decide to join this movement since there are threats to Japan’s constitution, particularly Article 9 which is a clause that outlaws war. Many of the peace marchers are passionate in preserving in Article 9 to prevent Japan from going backwards. More importantly, they want to prevent future generations from ever feeling the pain they once did.