A walk across Ainu Moshiri - Peacefu Land of the People - in Ainu (aka Hokkaido).
We re-awakened points on the Hokkaido Landscape that had been loud in the Ainu culture & folklore for centuries but silent in the colonizers history books! We started in Nokkamapu in the East and walked all the way to Hakodate in the West.
About 200 people, including chanting engaged Buddhist monks from Nipponzan-Myōhōji, GlobalWalkers from the US & Germany, a French Canadian Zen Nun, Mutang from Sarawak, Tom Dostou from the Abenaki Nation, Mari Jeanne Andre from the Innu of North East Quebec, many Ainu and numerous Japanese Peace Activists. The indigenous members of the walk, led sweat lodges and purification ceremonies. We also met some increadible Ainu Cultural Preservationist and were fortunate to hear the now late - Nabe Shirasawa - who sang a Yaysama and shared yukara Ainu epics.
We visited dams, rivers, farms, military bases, temples, mayor’s offices, town councils, schools, marshlands, museums (e.g. the Ainu Museum), forests, parks, mountains, Ainu sacred sites, sites where Korean Prisoners of War were murdered, factories, and local environmental, human rights and indigenous groups. Each day we met a group at lunch and another at dinner. This after a -/+ 40 km walk. It was sooooo awesome!
We also awoke old memories and ceremony at Koshamain by starting a yearly memorial with both Ainu and Japanese. This was the location of a very large battle that took place in 1456 between the Ainu and the invading Japanese Colonizers, at the Cape of Nokkamappu on the Nemuro Peninsula. We participated in Ainu prayer for the lost souls of the past who struggled to maintain the life of the Ainu, but also for all the creatures and vegetation as per Ainu custom, on the first day of the walk.
The 4 GlobalWalkers ended their long journey with us in Hiroshima after about 2 or so years of walking for peace!
The whole purpose of the walk was to provide a wide range of people with an alternative way to express their appeals for global peace, a clean environment, a world free of nuclear bombs, and to hightlight the teachings and struggle of the worlds indigenous people. In particular we brought together the Ainu and the Innu who shared a common struggle against large hydro electric dams in their sacred lands, and facilitated ceremonies and dialogue between Innu, Ainu, Kelabit and Abenaki indigenous groups. The walk ended August 6th in Hiroshima on the day of the commemoration of the dropping of the nuclear bomb.
Everyone cooked and cleaned. We learned to harvest & cook wild vegetables, dumbster dive, and to humbly ask for leftovers and discarded food from restaurants, corner stores, grocery stores and farms. We never ate better! We were also hosted by many locals who would add to our lunch and evening menus, mostly from their farms and fish catches. We even had some wonderful dinners prepared by many Ainu communities along the way. The last day was a giant Ainu feast!
This was one of the most profound experiences of my life, i learned that the impossible is possible, that it takes very little cash to do big things (total +/- 1000$ CDN to lodge and feed 200 people for 60 days!). I hope I can keep up the momentum and defy social gravity laws!