Students from Fukuyama to perform a picture-story show in France

by Yuki Akae, Staff Writer

In March, students from Fukuyama City Junior College for Women will travel to France to perform a “picture-story show” (a traditional form of Japanese storytelling) about a Chinese Parasol tree in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park which survived the A-bomb blast. (Exposed to the bomb at a distance of 1,300 meters from the hypocenter, it was then transplanted into the park in 1973.) Their original story, invoking themes of the preciousness of life and the importance of peace, involves a tree that shares its own experience of the bombing. The students will present this tale in French.

Led by a teacher in the Department of Child Care, Mie Oba, 42, the group of three students--Keiko Tsukamoto, 20, Erika Hokkoku, 20, both second-year students, and Nanako Kiyokawa, 21, a graduate of the school--will visit five institutions, such as daycare centers and elementary schools, in the cities of Saint-Cyr and Tours from March 2-11.

The picture-story show was created by Ms. Kiyokawa and other students last year for their graduation project. In the story, survivors of the atomic bombing find encouragement from the tree when it produces new buds the following year. After their performances were well-received in Fukuyama and elsewhere, the President of the college, Etsuko Yasukawa, suggested that they present it overseas to appeal for peace. As a result, the group decided to expand its efforts. Ms. Oba has translated the story into French and they will donate a set of their storytelling pictures to Saint-Cry.

Along with their performances of the story, they will also demonstrate a version of a traditional dance from Fukuyama called “Niagari Odori.” Ms. Kiyokawa expressed her enthusiasm for the trip, remarking, “Our passion will make up for the language barrier. We hope to share our wish that people all over the world can become friends.”

On February 22, the group visited Fukuyama City Hall and performed their picture-story show for Mayor Akira Hada. Mayor Hada told them, “The story embodies the sentiments of A-bomb survivors. Please spread its message to many children abroad.”