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Thursday, December 28, 2006

World Peace Forum Revisited (2) The Face of Jizo Reading

On Sunday June 25th evening, VSA9 produced a public reading of The Face of Jizo, or Chichi to Kuraseba, written by Hisashi Inoue and translated by Roger Pulvers. The event was sponsored by World Peace Forum, Komatsu-za (Inoue's theatre group), and Hidankyo or Japan Confederation of A- and H- Bomb Sufferers Organizations. The performance was presented as part of the World Peace Forum Arts and Culture Programs at Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown, Vancouver.

The play is about a young woman who is overwhelmed by her guilt of having survived the Hiroshima A-Bomb in 1945, and her dead father who appears in front of her three years later to be a supporter of her new romance. Tama Copithorne, one of the founding members of VSA9 brought the script to me earlier this year and I decided to produce a reading in Vancouver as part of the World Peace Forum. I was fortunate to have Manami Hara and Hiro Kanagawa (see photo above by Makoto Nishimura), Vancouver's own actors read the daughter's and the father's parts, respectively. Toyoshi Yoshihara, a play-script translator who has made great contributions to the theatrical exchange between Canada and Japan, and also one of the founding members of VSA9, was an advisor for this reading.

Four delegates from Hidankyo, the organization of hibakusha, or A-bomb survivors, brought 40 panels of The A-Bomb and Humanity donated by Ishikawa Co-op, and VSA9 volunteers displayed the panels outside of the Roundhouse Theatre for the visitors to see before and after the play reading (see the picture above taken by JALISA, or Japanese Lawyers International Solidarity Association, whose delegates were at the event.) These panels were created to tell the world about the the horrors of nuclear weapons and the reality of the people's long suffering after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bombs.

At the end of the reading, Mr. Nobuo Miyake, one of the four hibakusha (A-bomb sufferer) delegates from Hidankyo, told the audience of over one hundred people about his experience of Hiroshima A-Bomb (photo by Makoto Nishimura). His testimony and the presence of the three other hibakusha delegates (Mr. Mikiso Iwasa, Ms. Reiko Ono, and Mr. Shigeru Terasawa) in the audience gave a special meaning and depth to the event. Although I had visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki before, I had never met hibakusha people before the Peace Forum, so it was a real honour for me to be able to meet them and hear their experience firsthand.

Mitsue, the daughter in the Face of Jizo, could not rescue Takezo, her father who was trapped in the debris of their collapsed house and had to run from the fire, leaving Takezo behind. The next day she came back to the burnt site to pick up her father's bones. Thousands of people had that very experience at Hiroshima and Nagasaki 61 years ago, including one of the hibakusha delegates, Mr. Iwasa who had to leave his mother.

I could not even start to imagine what it would be like if I were in that situation. I become totally speechless just by thinking about it. At one point during the preparation of this event, I was overwhelmed and wondered if I should be doing this at all. One night I was meditating and felt like I was touched by the souls of those who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By the next morning I had no more fear. I could accept that I knew nothing but I could still tell people about Hiroshima/Nagasaki in my best capacity. I felt as if all the spirits of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were there with us at the reading.

Here are some of the comments from the audience -
  • 'Excellent reading, informative and heart-warming. The message of her guilt was clear and understandable. I learned a lot about the events and effects of such a horrible act.'
  • 'It's been a very educational play and I think it helps a lot to create awareness on the subject.'
  • 'I was deeply moved that an event like this took place so far away from Japan.'
    'Well done. Very emotional and provocative.'
With deep appreciation for all who have taught and helped me through this project,

Satoko

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