Together with Takeda-san, Tanaka-san, and Igarashi-san, we arrived by 830am at the Ikaruga Town Hall. There I met Mr. Miginari. He will help me today with the interpretation while walking with me. He said migi means right in Nihongo so I can easily remember his name. He can also be called Mr. Migi – so this means Mr. Right, hehehe. He also shared that he used to work as admin for a telecoms company and was assigned to the Philippines and Malaysia when he was younger. Now he is retired and is active in many different organizations including the Peace Movement.
We held our opening ceremony as in their towns where the town hall leader presents their message of support. In return, the local participants deliver their message as well – specifically reminding and asking the town / city leasers to make sure that the nuclear abolition campaign is strengthened and sustained in their town. The through Peace Marchers, including me, are also asked yo deliver a short message.
As we walked the quiet interior streets of Ikaruga, we passed by many old houses. Some community warehouses can be found along the narrow streets. Some bigger houses have their own warehouses. Me. Migi explained that the walls of these traditional structures are made of soil, straw, and bamboo. The walls could be up to 300-400mm thick to maintain the desired internal temperature to store important items, especially rice and other grains. Nara is a highly agricultural prefecture.
It is getting to be a hot morning so it was a relief when we reached a big Coop supermarket by 9:55 am for a 10 minute break.
As I shared last year, Coop a very active participant in the Peace March in many parts of Japan. They provide us refreshments and snacks during breaktime. More than this, they also help a lot in putting together the local march every year – aling with many other labor unions, trade unions, teachers’ unions, small business owners’ organizations, women’s organization (Shinfujin) even government employees unions and so many more. One could see strong cooperation not just during the march itself but in the preparations and further activities until they reach Hiroshima every August.
I find the Coop to be a very interesting feature within the Japanese communities because they are stores that ensure the members get high quality food and produce for a fair price.
By 10:05 am walk started to walk towards Heiguro. He shared a particular story about the beautiful river we passed by. He said that the river was very dirty 20 years ago. People seemed not to care about the river and it was easy for them to throw anything there. So what the government did was to initially correct the sewage. After this, the people of Heiguro organized cleaning drives three times a year. He said that if a place is clean and beautiful, people will think twice before throwing anything. I look forward to see this happening in the rivers of Metro Manila in my lifetime. 🙂
We also passed by many agricultural fields. The heat of the sun is compensated by a gentle breeze so the march was still enjoyable. Some fields have rice planted in them while the others ones have vegetables and chrysanthemum. The chrysanthemums i saw were still very young though – so no flowers yet. Mr. Migi explained that the farmers alternate rice and chrysanthemum crops every 3 years.
By 11 am we arrived at Heguri town and there was a big welcome for us by town office people. This is also Mr. Migi’s town. It was very nice to see that many members of the city office are there even if it was a weekend. There were three representatives who gave their message of support all of whom also express their concern about the current threat to Article 9.
The youngest of them, who is also a representative of the city council shared that his father used to be a soldier of Japan’s self-defense forces. All the time, they were assured by their father that they will never go to war as stipulated by the Article 9 of the constitution. But now, he feels it is no longer like that and vows to do his best to stop the leaders from changing what Article 9 stipulates.
During lunch, I asked Mr. Migi for some more notes about Nara and he said that Nara’s population is around 1.4 million but almost half of it works in Osaka. Nara is also famous for vegetables, and agriculture. Nara sells its produce to Osaka since Osaka is a big consumer city.
Out of curiosity, I asked him what he thinks the difference is between Osaka and Nara apart from its traditional buildings. He said that Osaka, like Tokyo, is more like an immigrant city. Many of Osaka’s residents are originally from different parts of Japan. He likened this convergence to a little version of New York.
We regathered in Heguri Town office and continued our walk. There was a very minor but funny confusion in the beginning because the lead marchers went the opposite way. 🙂
We passed by quiet streets again and it is still quite surprising to see some people go out of their way to greet us. We arrived at the same Coop store by mid-day for some refreshments and headed to the final destination. We reached the goal at around 4pm and everyone was happy for the day’s march. I also bid goodbye to everyone and also the big puppet who greet us in every stop.
Today was the last full march in Nara prefecture. Tomorrow is rest day for everyone and the through Peace Marchers will go to Osaka by mid-day of June 30 for the handover ceremonies between Nara & Osaka.
It was nice to walk again with the Peace March. I tried to walk in Nara Prefecture this time since it was the place where I dropped out from the Peace March last year. So this year is like continuing from where I stopped. I realized how difficult being a through Peace Marcher can be and organizing it annually can be a tedious task.
Lately, as the Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution is under threat of reinterpretation, there is an atmosphere of deep concern and outrage among my fellow Japanese marchers. If the reinterpretation pushes through, it would be a major step back for their nation’s commitment be free from war. But if one will see the vigor of the marchers, it seems the people around me have solid determination to realise their life long desire for a real just and peaceful world. This perhaps reflects the spirit of the Peace March.
Minnasan, konnichiwa! Heiwa koshin desu!
(Hello everyone! We are the Peace March!)