Peace-Smile Festa: Circle of songs from Fukushima

Will for reconstruction gains strength in Hiroshima

by Sakiko Masuda, Staff Writer

On March 30, the “Peace-Smile Festa” was held in downtown Hiroshima with the hope that the younger generation will build a more peaceful future. Young people from the A-bombed city and Fukushima Prefecture, site of Japan’s worst nuclear accident, united through song and pledged to pursue the reconstruction of disaster-hit areas and promote peace in the world.

Performances were given by the Chorus Club from Aoi High School in Fukushima, and from Hiroshima, the Brass Band Club from Suzugamine Girls’ Junior High School and Senior High School, the Chorus Club from Yasuda Girls’ Junior High School, and the Music Club from Yasuda Girls’ Senior High School. At the end, about 400 people, including the members of the audience, sang the popular Japanese song “Sekai ni Hitotsu dake no Hana” (“Only One Flower in the World”), accompanied by a piano that had survived the A-bombing. The bond between Fukushima and Hiroshima was on the minds of everyone in the hall.

“I feel encouraged to work hard together for reconstruction,” said Shizuka Monoe, 17, a second-year student from Aoi High School. “I’m happy to make friends who feel the same way.” Kanako Yoritani, 16, a first-year student and the leader of the Music Club at Yasuda Girls’ Senior High School, said with a smile, “We both live in places that suffered nuclear damage so were able to share our thoughts with each other.”

The city of Aizu Wakamatsu, where Aoi High School is located, is about 100 kilometers to the west of the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant, which suffered the accident. About 30 students at the school are evacuees. Sayaka Igarashi, 16, a first-year student, has a friend who was forced to flee her hometown, which lies close to the nuclear plant. “I plan to show my best effort to help ease the worries of the people of Fukushima,” she said.

About 20 people from an association with ties to Fukushima, now living in Hiroshima, came to the venue to present flowers to the Chorus Club from Aoi High School to offer their encouragement and show their appreciation. Some of the members of the association were in tears.

At the end of the event, the Chorus Club from Aoi High School presented the young people of Hiroshima with a clay doll, a local folk craft, called “Okiagari Koboshi.” They explained that the name of the doll is derived from the phrase “fall down seven times but stand up eight,” and renewed their determination, saying, “We will keep moving forward, never giving up.”

(Originally published on March 31, 2013)