The goal of the Earth Caravan is to share peace, happiness and healing in the world through words, art, music, and interfaith prayers. Thirty Japanese participants were able to join the annual Earth Caravan Middle East pilgrimage. Our destination: the Bethlehem Live Festival in Bethlehem, Palestine August 4 -7, 2016. We had three purposes in joining the festival:
1) Share Japanese Culture Experiences with the people of Palestine
When I first heard that Palestinian people love Japanese culture, I was surprised and happily agreed to the request from the Holy Land Trust. The Earth Caravan brought many Japanese cultural goods and practices to share.
For example, we brought Kimonos, Japanese cultural dress. Palestinian people who visited the Japanese Cultural Corner were able to wear and walk around wearing a Kimono, take photos, and could even buy one if they wished.
We performed traditional Japanese tea ceremonies; children and adults alike enjoyed watching and participating in this ancient ceremony. We also brought rice from Japan to make sushi, which many people ate and enjoyed.
Shiatsu (Japanese manual healing therapy) was offered to the public by certified Shiatsu therapists. Many people were able to relax and get rid of their aches and pains by receiving a treatment…!
The Japanese Cultural Corner was always full of people, warmth and laughter. Our volunteers happily worked for hours and hours each day. We often missed dinner at our hotel, but the members of the Earth Caravan were happy to stay and help at the Cultural Corner, more than eating dinner. Sharing Japanese culture with the people in Palestine and to see their happy faces, gave us energy to keep going!
2) Share the Living Memorial Heritage of Hiroshima
Not so well known even in Japan, exist two living memorial heritages of the Hiroshima atomic bombing in 1945: The first is a remnant from the original fires that burned 70 years ago, preserved until today, called the Peace Flame. The second is a seed from one of the trees which survived the atomic bombing.
The deep wish of the Earth Caravan was to bring the Peace Flame and the seed to the Middle East, to share it with the Palestinian people, as a symbol for hope, peace and perseverance.
On the main stage of the Bethlehem Live Festival, we performed a ceremony on August 6th, 2016, the 71st anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing.
During the ceremony, Mayu Endo presented the Peace Flame to Sami Awad, Executive Director of Holy Land Trust, and Ryokyu Endo presented the seed to the Vice-Mayor of Bethlehem Mr. Issam Juha. Mr. Kuroda from the Japanese Embassy in Ramallah was also present, as was Kiyohiko Seita from UNRWA, and Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, professor at Bethlehem University.
3) Japanese Performance on the Main Stage on Hiroshima Day and the Singing of “Be Free Palestine!”
The Earth Caravan brought musicians, dancers and performers from Japan and Europe.
Tama played the Shamisen, which is a traditional Japanese instrument. Musicians Ryokyu Endo and Aminadabu, Nikki Matsumoto, and Haow all performed on the main stage, as well as on smaller stages around the city. Soshin is a dancer and Jun Ichikawa an actor working in Italy, was the MC for the Japanese musicians.
At the end of the Japanese performances on August 6th, 2016, the 71st anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb, everyone sang “Be Free Palestine!” (Composed by Ryokyu Endo) to share the wish of a free Palestine with all.