Minna-san Konnichiwa! Ohisashiburi desu! :-).
(Hello everyone! Long time no see!)
I am Malaya Fabros posting for the 2014 Peace March. As Gensuikyo took the challenge to organize an International Youth Relay as part of the National Peace March Against A&H Bombs, there are several relay marchers from different countries including the Philippines, Guam, India, USA and Japan.
I am one of the youth relay marchers and will be walking through Nara Prefecture for around 4 days plus two more days in Osaka with Niño Desierto, another youth relay marcher from Mindanao, Philippines (southern region of the Philippines).
To date, the last post in this blog was written by Ms. Chihiro Nishida. She walked through Shiga Prefecture for 5 days and handed over the relay to Mr. Takuma Hoshi from Kyoto. He then walked through Kyoto Prefecture for another 5 days and handed the International Youth Relay flag to me. Mr. Takuma Hoshi will also write about his experience in the Peace March in Kyoto and we will post it in time.
Below is an account of what happened in the handover from Kyoto to Nara Prefecture on June 26.
I arrived in Nara from the Philippines on evening of June 24. The next day, The ladies from Shinfujin gave me a short tour of Horyuji Temple outside of Nara City. This is the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan and no nails were used in its construction. We also had a short break in the Shinfujin Office in the afternoon before I had dinner with the very kind couple Yuzawa-san and their friend.
Umebayashi-san, Nara Gensuikyo’s Secretary-General, picked me up from the hotel together with Igarashi-san at mid-day of June 26. Igarashi-san is one of this year’s through Peace Marchers. He is walking the Wakayama-Hiroshima Course. The Tokyo-Hiroshima Course and Wakayama-Hiroshima Course (out of around 10 different courses nationwide) will walk together in Nara Prefecture for the next 4 days.
It was very nice to see Igarashi-san again. We met last year in Tokyo and Hiroshima (the start and end of the Peace March). I am happy that he still remembers me. 🙂 This time, I can understand him a little bit more as I have been trying to increase my Nihongo vocabulary before I travelled. (Around 10% more :-D)
Umebayashi-san brought us to Hannyaji Temple before lunch time. There I met Ms. Okatani. They will help me break through the language barrier this afternoon. We all ate lunch together in an open hut right beside the temple. Umebayashi-san gave us each a BIG bentou lunch. He told us that this is a typical JR train worker’s bento and it was only around 400 yen. Very filling for its price! I was only able to finish less than half and kept the rest in my bag.
While waiting for the Peace Marchers from Kyoto, we went around the temple. Inside the temple grounds is a shrine containing the fire from Hiroshima. Okatani-san explained that a man from Hiroshima kept the flame burning long after the bombing incident. Eventually this flame was passed on to this shrine as a symbol of an undying prayer for real peace and justice. They also explained that the flame will keep burning until all nuclear weapons around the world are abolished.
Beside the flame of Hiroshima shrine is a very old bell that is rung as part of a prayer for peace. This is one of the very old bells that were saved during the World War 2. A lot of bells and precious metals were taken during World War 2 so it can be meltd and manufactured into arms and ammunitions. One can still see some of the saved bells in some parts Gifu and Shiga.
Hannyaji Temple is also popular for its flower garden which changes colours / blooms according to season. A lot of cosmos flowers greeted us this afternoon. It was a relaxing site to see.
The Peace March from Kyoto arrived at around 1pm. They arrived strong in numbers and were welcomed with lively music and clapping. We met Takeda-san and Tanaka-san -the through Peace Marchers for Tokyo-Hiroshima Course. I also met Mr. Takuma Hoshi for the first time. He is our International Youth Relay Marcher for Kyoto Prefecture. I will surely remember him because he explained that ‘hoshi’ means star. I will regard him as ‘Takuma Hoshi The Star’. He seems to be a kind and warm person. I hope he enjoyed his march as well. Hoshi-san handed over the youth relay flag and now it’s my turn to carry it everyday. 🙂
Hoshi-san, otsukaresamadeshita! Thank you very much for hard work!
We left Hannyaji Temple at around 1:20pm walking through the main street leading to the Nara Prefecture Hall. Opposite this big building is the Nara Park which is famous for the deers roaming on the greens.
We were received by representatives of the Nara Prefectural Office. They were warm in their reception and they read a message from the governor and gave penants and donation as support for the Peace March. Okatani-san told me that the current governor is known to be very conservative so it could be considerably hard to count on this attendance in our activity this afternoon. I am also not sure how his message really went.
After around 10-20 minutes rest, we continued to walk as we headed to Nara City Hall. A lady from Shinfujin gave me a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I wasn’t sure if I will be drinking this, but it turned out to be very helpful later on.
By this time it rained really hard as we walked through a busy street flanked with many commercial establishments. 3pm was getting near so the road is starting to get busy as many people are going home from work or school.
Since the rain was pouring really hard, the group stopped under a covered bus stop and waited for the rain to subside. The cup of coffee in hand became very helpful as it kept me warm. (I remember writing last year about how gifts in the Peace march could turn out to be indicators of things to come. Perhaps the coffee is another example).
We waited for almost 20 minutes and it was still strong so the group decided to cut the march and head straight to the Nara City Hall by vehicle for the closing ceremony. Tanaka-san, Takeda-san, Igarashi-san and I rode the Peace March van and reached Nara City Hall after 20 minutes. Since we did not walk, we came too early for the scheduled meeting so we waited in the van until past 4pm.
During this waiting time, I was able to write some parts of this post as follows: Takeda-san, Tanaka-san and Igarashi-san all have really good tans already. And because I’m naturally dark skinned, I fit in just right. 🙂 Takeda-san and Tanaka-san are sleeping. Perhaps from tiredness. It is a smart way to sneak in recovery time any chance you get. They must have been very tired.
By around 430pm the Peace Marchers re-gathered in front of the Nara City Hall. We were welcomed by the mayor’s representatives and city council members. They also read the mayor’s and city council member’s messages of support and gave penants and donations. They expressed that the Peace March is very much welcome in Nara City. They also noted that they simultaneously ring all the large bells in Nara on August 6 & 9 of every year to commemorate the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The local Peace March organizers also read their messages to the members of the city office. This is their opportunity to call for more concrete work towards real abolition of nuclear weapons. One of their major requests is to help urge the prime minister not to change the peace constitution of Japan i.e. Article 9.
After the closing ceremonies, the through Peace Marchers went back to the hotel to freshen up. By dinner time, we met in Muu-chan (a nearby pub that seems to be popular among working people) with Umebayashi-san; the local prefectural marchers; Kato-san; and Kawato-san of Osaka Peace Committee for some sashimi, drinks and exchange of stories. Umebayashi-san also gave each one of us a mother-daughter pair of crabs that he made from bamboo. Very nice!
The energy of the Peace Marchers and Umebayashi-san are indeed inspiring. I will surely use this for tomorrow’s real long walk. 🙂 Mata ashita ne! See you tomorrow!