Aichi Prefecture. June 7- 11.
The peace march in the Aichi prefecture was definitely a memorable and enjoyable experience. Immediately after I stepped foot off of the plane I was warmly greeted and escorted to the marchers, who had already began their course for the day. I was quickly thrown into things, which was a bit overwhelming at first, but even more exciting. I was very moved by their reaction towards me and that would last through my whole time in Aichi. The language barrier and communication was difficult and I struggled with names, but the spirit and character of each and everyone of them will forever be imprinted in me. It was a very beautiful experience to not understand the words they were speaking, but be able to FEEL their love and passion for peace. It seemed otherworldly to communicate compassion through genuine smiles and respect through cultural bows.
I was very taken aback at how many of the marchers received my message. As my translator would read my speech to them I would look at their facial expressions and reactions and it reminded me of my purpose for participating in the march. And their purpose, which really resonated with me, calls for peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons. Not so much so for themselves, but for the entire world. They don’t want anyone to experience what they had experienced during the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That purpose exemplifies peace at its finest. They’re using their horrific experience as a learning experience which is to be used for the rest of the world. I have the utmost respect for them.
I wish I had been more familiar with the process and daily routines of the march. One of the reasons being, I didn’t know that the marchers of that prefecture would not carry on to the next. I felt as though I didn’t give them a proper goodbye and I didn’t express to them just how thankful I am for everything they’ve done for me and how welcoming they were, which definitely eased my nerves. There were moments when I’d drift hazily far into mind, due to post- lunch blues and Japan’s incredibly hot temperature, but then the energy and spirit of the marchers would inspire me to continue on in our march for peace.
I’ve been learning a lot about a lot. Things about Japan, the Japanese people, myself and selfishly about how to operate a movement of that scale with so much history. Yokoe-san, the director of the local Gensuikyo, masterfully executed a very successful Peace March of the Aichi Prefecture, with a lot of help I’m sure. Aichi had so many volunteers, marchers and support from the community. I really would like to thank him for making my comfort his responsibility and for giving me context when needed. So Yokoe-san (Run) thank you very much! And thank you to all of the participants of the Aichi Prefecture!
by Raymond Lujan from Guam
2016 International Youth Relay Marcher at Japan National Peace March