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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Article 9 Peace Walk in Shiga

I participated in the Article 9 Peace Walk on the afternoon of March 26,2008, from Zennenji Temple in Otsu to the Kusatsu City Hall in Shiga Prefecture. The Walk had started in Hiroshima on February 24th, and it was the 32nd day of the 71-day of walking tour to Makuhari, Chiba, where the Global Article 9 to Abolish War will be held on May 4th and 5th. This Walk is an official 'pre-event' of the international conference which expects participation of 7,000 or more citizens from around the world.

The Article 9 Peace Walk has about 10 people who have started in Hiroshima and plan to walk all the way through Makuhari, including Ven. Kato, Sr. Claire and other priests of Nihonzan Myohoji, rap singers The Foundation Movement, and Ash Woolson, a Iraq veteran and President of Chapter 32 (Bellingham, Washington) of IVAW(Iraqi Veterans Against the War). The size of the group varies from 20+ to 200+ depending on where they go, with people coming and going at each place of call. On the day I joined the group, there seemed to be about 50 people having lunch, but somehow in the group photo there seems only to be around 25... maybe each person had the energy worth of two people!

Anyway, the walk in the afternoon started at Zennenji Temple, and went on to Seta Station, through the old Tokaido Road, and after a short break at Minami Kusatsu Station, we ended
at Kusatsu City Hall where the city employees welcomed us and a rep of the Mayor gave us a message. Ven. Kato invited me to give a speech so I introduced VancouverSave Article 9 (VSA9) and its involvement with the Global Article 9 Conference. VSA9, together with other Article 9 organizations outside of Japan including one in Switzerland, will organize a session during the Conference, which will be about how to support the Article 9 movement from outside of Japan and how to encourage other governments to adopt an Article 9 - like clause in their constitutions.

If you are going to be in Japan between now and early May, and/or if you have friends living in the areas between Shiga and Tokyo, I highly recommend participating in this Article 9 Peace Walk that will be your great opportunity to make friends with Japanese and international participants, receive wonderful hospitality in each area you visit, get to know police people in different areas whether you like it or not, shed a few pounds around your waist, get some good tan and above all, you get a real feel of living and walking the Preamble and Article 9 of the Peace Constitution. After all it is all about having fun, making people-to-people connections, sharing food and conversation, and feeling the Earth underneath your feet!

Here is what Ash Woolson wrote in Osaka about his experience, which I thought so well spoke to the essence of the Walk.

Here is the link to more photos.

Thank you for such a memorable afternoon. My heart will be with the walkers all the way to Makuhari.

Lots of love, peace, and prayers,


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