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You Don’t Hold Weapons When You Join Hands: Sagamihara Peace Ambassadors Visit Hiroshima

Thirty years ago the city of Sagamihara in north-central Kanagawa Prefecture, close to Tokyo, declared itself a “City of Peace and Nuclear Weapons Abolition”.

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Sagamihara (source: Wikipedia)

To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of its peace declaration, Sagamihara organized several activities including a competition for the city’s elementary and junior high school children to design peace posters.

The winners of the peace poster competition took on the role of temporary peace ambassadors for Sagamihara. They travelled to Hiroshima to engage in peace activities. While in Hiroshima, they met Tomoko Watanabe of ANT-Hiroshima.

 

Here are two of the winning posters. The first was designed by elementary school pupil Anon Oyama. The message reads,

Te o tsunageba buki wa motenai!!

You don’t hold weapons when you join hands!!

 

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Peace poster by elementary school pupil Anon Oyama.

Here is the winning peace poster by junior high school pupil, Sana Goto. The message reads:

Ano kanashimi o hikisuide  … heiwa no onegai o Nihon kara

(May) prayers of peace from Japan … overcome that grief

sanagoto

ANT-Hiroshima

 

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Lahore School Children Just Say No To War, Terrorism & Nuclear Weapons

ANT-Hiroshima has been co-operating with Hector Nihal, director of the Aids Awareness Society in Pakistan, who requested assistance in a peace education initiative for schools in Lahore, Pakistan.

Hector organized a poster competition as part of his peace education initiative, “Say No to Nuclear Weapons.” The peace edcuation initiative was originally scheduled to be on 9th August 2014, to commemorate the dropping of the second atomic bomb, on Nagasaki.

However, the event had to be postponed as the venue was at Model Town, Lahore, was where a rally and demonstration at the beginning of Tahirul Qadri’s “Inqalab March” was being held.

The event was held on 6th September instead, and went off successfully.

A total of ten schools took part along with representatives from various NGOs, religious leaders and political parties.

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Adults and children listen to the presentation.

The posters made by the students were put on display, as were the educational posters that were supplied by ANT-Hiroshima.

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Some of the student posters on display.

The school students were shown a film about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and learned about the devastating effects of nuclear weapons. They expressed their solidarity with the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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Watching a film about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki.

The participants appreciated the courage of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as they struggled to recover from the destruction in a spirit of Peace and forgiveness while moving ahead to rebuild their lives and communities.

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The school children received certificates of attendance and gift copies of Sadako’s Prayer.

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School children receive certificates and copies of Sadako’s Prayer.

The school principals offered their full support and cooperation for future peace programs in their schools to educate younger generation about the importance of peace and the effects of weapons of mass destruction.

On behalf of participants we are grateful ANT and its team for providing this opportunity to organize a program on this important topic. – Hector Nihal

ANT-Hiroshima

 

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Eric Martin Translates & Sings “Inori” in Commemoration of Sadako Sasaki

Sadako Sasaki lived in Hiroshima and was just two years old when the city was destroyed by the atom bomb on August 6th 1945. She survived the bombing, but nine years later she contracted leukemia, caused by exposure to radiation from the atom bomb.

While in hospital she started folded paper cranes after hearing an old folk tale that promises that a wish shall be granted to those who fold a thousand paper cranes. It is said that Sadako folded over a thousand cranes, but she succumbed to the disease and died at the age of twelve.

Some years later, Sadako’s nephew, Yuji Sasaki (born 1970) wrote a song, titled Inori (Prayer), to commemorate his aunt. It became a big hit in Japan in 2010 and Yuji sang the song at the commemorations of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 2010, as you can see in the video, below.

Yuji explains that when he was a child living in Fukuoka he didn’t feel that the story of Sadako and the atom bombing had anything to do with him. However, his attitude changed when he moved to Tokyo his father, Sadako’s elder brother, visited and gave a lecture at a high school about Sadako. He was challenged by some of the high school students and teachers to compose a song about Sadako as he shared her DNA. That insight helped him to feel closer to Sadako, and he accepted the challenge and wrote the song. He explains,

Despite facing death, Sadako always showed a brave smile to her family. I tried putting myself in her place to compose the lyrics.

Source: Hiroshima Peace Media

Inori Translated Into English & Sung by Eric Martin

Yuji Sasaki’s song was translated and performed by Eric Martin,  who fronts the hard rock/glam metal band Mr Big.

 

Inori (Prayer)

lyrics by

Eric Martin

Though she knew the end was near still she never gave up hope

In the power that she believed from the old stories told

Of a thousand paper cranes that were folded every day

They would give her wings to fly and live for ever more

All her family gather round, and held her tenderly

And took away the fear, for a while she was free

And secretly she cried to god above

To keep her safe at home where she belongs in the arms of love

Say a prayer, say a prayer save the souls that have gone

A memory, a memory lives on in everyone

Inori, inori, inori, for peace on earth

In the eyes of every child we find salvation

 

As she folded the colorful cranes tears start to fall

And she struggled deep inside to make sense of it all

When it seems like all is lost, dreams could come true

And that after every storm there’s a light that’s shining through

One courageous little girl calling out to us

So no one will forget all the innocent

There are lessons we can learn that she left behind

About a hopeful message she gave to the world to make a better place and time

Say a prayer, say a prayer for the souls that have gone

When you wake up to the morning and a new day has begun

Inori, inori, inori, for peace on earth

In our hearts a dedication to what tomorrow brings

 

There is sadness in the world on this very day

And the echo of her voice when the children play

There’s a change in the season when the flowers bloom

And after all is said and done we’re always thinking of you

Say a prayer, say a prayer, save the souls that have gone

A memory, a memory lives on in everyone

Inori, inori, inori, for peace on earth

In the eyes of every child we find salvation

Say goodbye, say goodbye say goodnight and go to sleep

There’s a spirit in the sky an eternal prayer for peace

Heaven’s wish, heaven’s wish, heaven’s wish a chance to live

In the heart of every one there is salvation

In the heart of every one there is salvation

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“Day Open Heart”: August 6th Marked At Tver State University Botanical Garden, Russia

Dr. Yurii Naumtcev, Director of the Botanical Garden of Tver State University, Russia, writes to inform us that on August 6th 2014 a ceremony was held in the botanical garden in memory of the victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, 69 years ago.

The ceremony was attended by members of the Japanese community who live and work in Tver, and other Japanese visitors.

We are grateful to Dr Naumtcev for sending us this report, and especially so because he tells us that on that day, named “Day Open Heart,” a very special ginko-bilboa sapling was planted by a 12-year-old Japanese girl called Hitomi-san. It is the first sapling that the botanical garden has grown from seeds obtained from Hiroshima through the Green Legacy Hiroshima initiative. :)

Hitomi plants the ginko-bilboa sapling.

Hitomi plants the ginko-bilboa sapling.

Hitomi prepares to release a dove.

The full report of this event can be found at: http://garden.tversu.ru/den_otkritogo_serdca_eng.html

On behalf of Green Legacy Hiroshima we extend our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Yurii Naumtcev and the staff of the Tver State University Botanical Garden and all who participated in, supported and attended “Day Open Heart.”

ANT-Hiroshima

 

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Hiroshima Mudslide Disaster Report & Information For Volunteers

Torrential rain fell on Hiroshima all through the night of 19th-20th August, depositing more than a month’s rainfall in a few hours. The hills above Asaminamiku and Asakita to the north of Hiroshima city had already absorbed a lot of water during a very wet summer season. At least three major landslides occurred between 3:20 a.m and 4:00 a.m. hitting the suburbs of Yagi as well as Midori and Yamamoto, burying dozens of people under mud and debris, and washing others away.

Nineteen houses have been completely destroyed, 31 half destroyed, forty partly damaged and nearly 200 invaded by mud and sludge.

So far, 71 people are known to have died and at least 15 people are still missing. We ask for your prayers for the victims.

As for the clean-up operation, emergency services and personnel from the Self Defence Force are working as hard as they can, as well as many volunteers both Japanese and foreign residents of hiroshima.

Here are some photos taken by GetHiroshima.com which give you some idea of the scale of the disaster and how volunteers are working to help clean up the area…

Hiroshima mudslide disaster area

The main force of the mudslides struck here.

Emergency vehicles at the scene of the Hiroshima mudslide disaster

Emergency vehicles at the scene

Shovels and bags of cleared mud where volunteers have been working

Shovels and bags of cleared mud where volunteers have been working

Volunteers at work clearing drains of rocks.

Volunteers at work clearing drains of rocks.

Just one of many damaged properties

Just one of many damaged properties

Mud and rocks piled up by volunteers for the buldozers to remove.

Mud and rocks piled up by volunteers for the bulldozers to remove.

Source: Photos available under a Creative Commons licence at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gethiroshima/sets/72157646809910355/

Foreign Resident Volunteers’ Experiences

You can read about the experiences of a couple of long-term foreign residents of Hiroshima who volunteered to help with the clear-up one week after the mudslides struck:

If you are in Hiroshima and want to volunteer…

Here is the Japanese site for Hiroshima landslide volunteers: http://hiroshimavc.jp/

Do not go directly to the disaster zone. You must first visit the volunteer registration centre at Asa-minami-ku to register, get volunteer insurance and equipment.

Asa-minami-ku Volunteer Center Asa Minami Ku, Nakasu 1-38-13

Tel: 080-2931-3142 and 080-2931-3242

Fax: 082-831-5031

Asa-kita-ku Volunteer Center Asa-kita-ku Social Welfare Center 3-19-22 Kabe, Asa-kita-ku

Tel: 080-2931-4242

Fax: 082-814-1895

Both centres are open from 9am to 5pm.

Here is the location of the disaster area:

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Green Legacy Hiroshima