The 2014 Peace March is now on its second full day in Okayama Prefecture. The handover from Hyogo Prefecture was on July 17. Thank you very much to Niño Desierto, the through Peace Marchers and the rest of the marchers for enduring the very challenging walk through Hyogo.
While awaiting for Niño’s blog posts from the Hyogo Peace March, let us welcome Sofia Wolman, our International Youth Relay Marcher for Okayama Prefecture. Sofia is from the American Friends Service Committee and has been active in solidarity campaign for Palestine. Her work also includes campaign for economic justice, and organizing against militarism and nuclear weapons. She joined the World Conference Against A&H Bombs in 2013. This year she took the challenge of walking through Okayama and will attend the World Conference again. She also has a beautiful voice, by the way. 🙂
Dear friends, let us follow the Peace March through her words in the days to come!
(Featured image by Akio Hirai. From left: Igarashi-san, an Okayama Prefectural Marcher, Sofia Wolman, and Tanaka-san )
Konnichiwa!! My name is Sofia Wolman, and I’m one of the international participants in the Peace March.
I’m joining the March from Boston in the United States, and after arriving in Okayama on the morning of the 17th and having a great day visiting a castle, Korokuen Garden, and outdoor shopping area with Kayo-san, I enjoyed a dinner with Kayo-san, Hirai-san, and Niño-san, who passed on the International Youth Relay banner to me. Niño was very helpful in preparing me for the march, and it was wonderful to hear his experience and about the very vigorous and mountainous climbs!
I was picked up from the hotel at 7:30, and first we headed (through some traffic) to lay flowers at a memorial for the victims of the atomic bombings. We then headed to the Higashi-ku Office, where many people gathered at around 9am and some gave short speeches. I walked much of the day with Shinko-san, who met me at the hotel in the morning, and was very helpful with translating; this made a huge difference!
Then, at around 9:45, we were off! From what I was told I think we walked about 7 miles total, although we had stopping points just about every hour where hosts, including women from the Okayama Medical Co-op, applauded the marchers as we approached and served us cold tea and freeze-pops – perfect for the hot, humid July weather! These rests as well as the mostly overcast skies and breezes as we crossed over the Asahi River helped keep us cool. We then laid more flowers at another memorial, which is a very powerful gesture and a good time for reflection on the somberness of our work.
We had well over 100 marchers throughout the day, and both young and old were very energetic and participated in song and chants throughout the hours of marching. Slowly I’m learning phrases that will be very helpful during the chanting, including – Konnichiwa! Heiwa Koshin-desu! (Hello! We’re the Peace March!), and Kakuheiki-nakusou! (No Nuclear Weapons!). We stopped at around noon for a bento box lunch at Sogen-ji (or Sogen Temple), which had beautiful grounds, and were later addressed by Hibakusha at a memorial where we laid incense.
Towards the end of the route we were greeted by a group of very small children (around four or five years old), who presented some of us with origami and paper-mache necklaces. It was wonderful to march with so many people throughout the day, from the very young children to very old people, all who had wonderful attitudes, with many young people keeping the tone light-hearted and the energy up.
We ended the day at around 4pm with a small meeting with members of the General Affairs office of the Okayama Prefectural Government.
Very glad to be here, and will write again soon! Peace!!!