Well, this was definitely the longest, hottest day so far, but we’ve made it to Hiroshima Prefecture!
After a hearty breakfast of (mostly) leftovers from the barbecue at Michiko-san’s home, we were off from Kasaoka!
I was happy to again see my young friend Kazuki, who had drawn me a wonderful picture of his family and me; what a prized possession!! He was my March buddy for the first part of the day, and we had a great time together, often entertained by small fish in the flowing water beside the street, and by Fukuda-san’s fantastic singing, which keeps the energy up despite the weather!
After a (short!) lunch at a women’s organization, we headed back out, and before we knew it we made it to Hiroshima Prefecture!
Soon after, we were greeted by a large group – the Fukuyama contingent – and after a ceremony we parted ways with the familiar faces of Okayama/Kasaoka, and set off on this new and final stretch of the March.
It was really sad to say goodbye to these friends we’d made! I didn’t expect to feel so emotional, but even with the strong language barriers that exist, it’s amazing what a bond I came to share with the people whom I’d marched beside, particularly such friends as Nakao-san, and Shiga-san, the Okayama-through-Marcher, who was really crying hard as we said our goodbyes.
But, the march went on, with new but strong energy and a big group of us, with Nakajima-san, a junior high school English teacher – joining as our interpreter and coordinator of the Fukuyama portion of the March.
In the evening we had a short time to get ourselves cooled and cleaned off before driving over to a social work office where we were hosted for a dinner featuring some traditional foods from Fukayama.
Manisha and I enjoyed the company of Mahoko-san (our interpreter) and her very friendly mother and daughter (Manami, who braided my hair after dinner). It was a festive time, including speeches by guests, and I was invited to sing Imagine – a favorite among the marchers!
We also saw a man’s hat, that had dozens of pins from past Peace Marchers attached, and I was amazed to see that this year’s logo is much like a mural in Derry, Northern Ireland, where I studied for a semester during university!
So, it’s the end of a long day, and sleep calls! Onwards!