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Visit To Fukushima July 26 – 29, 2019

Bernadette Mekouanga, CND, and Jeannette Daïdouwé, CND

Our first stop in Fukushima was Sakura no Seibo Junior College, under the direction of Ms. Minami Nishiuchi and owned by our sisters. A very warm welcome was extended by our sisters, the director and all the students and staff. All kinds of treats were offered to us. After a guided tour of the college, the sisters talked to us about the origins of the school. Once the visits were completed, Ms. Nishiuchi spoke to us about the school and the situation of women’s education in Japan. A game of questions and answers followed and Father Aimé and Julie served as interpreters. We all received gift bags with “Sakura no Seibo Junior College” stamped on them. We met and talked with the students of the college and participated in a game. Pictures were taken in a friendly and pleasant climate. The students put on a musical performance, which was very much appreciated. We then left the college.

After visiting the junior college, we went to the “TOYOKO INN” where we stayed for the duration of our time in Fukushima. After checking in, each pair of sisters returned to their rooms in order to familiarize themselves with their surroundings. The sisters took us to the nearest shopping centre to do some shopping and have our evening meal. That was how our first day in Fukushima ended.

Day 2

After a restful night, a time of personal prayer and a good breakfast, the day began very well. The first destination: Aizu: The Samurai City; heading to Nisshinkan School. This school has existed since the Edo period. It receives students aged 10 and over. The curriculum includes classes in basic education, Japanese calligraphy, astronomy, etiquette, religion, swimming, military training, etc.

The principal welcomed us and spoke to us about the merits of the school, a most prestigious school. He listed the rules that every Samurai must follow:

  • Obey elders;
  • Respect elders;
  • Do not lie;
  • Always act with bravery;
  • Do not persecute the most vulnerable;
  • Do not eat outside the home;
  • Do not speak to women.

In short, do not do what is forbidden.

The school has four rules that each student must respect:

  • Respect one’s parents;
  • Eat after one’s parents;
  • Say goodbye when leaving home;
  • Provide one’s itinerary when leaving home.

This school received the best students. After visiting the school buildings, we went to the school’s gift shop to buy a few souvenirs. The important thing to remember is that the Samurai are very proud and they cannot bear the humiliation of failure. They are driven by the culture of victory not failure. For them, it is better to die than to loose face. Suicide was considered a heroic death.

After the school, we visited a typical Samurai dwelling.

Stop 3, was our visit to the temple and the tea ceremony. We learned a great deal about Samurai history.

The last stop of the day was supper with our sisters at the convent. We received a very warm and friendly welcome. There was joy among “the Marys” – ourselves – and “the Elizabeths” – the elder sisters. The meal was rich, varied, abundant and delicious. Our elder sisters were happy to welcome us and share a meal with us. Good humour was reflected in the conversations, despite the language difficulty. We understood each other through love. After the meal, we prayed together. Then we took pictures and the sisters offered us gifts; finally, we said our good-byes and took our leave. That was our second day.

Day 3

At 9:00 we were in Father Aimé’s parish for Sunday Mass during which he introduced us by country and language group. The homily was given in the congregation’s four languages: English, French, Spanish and Japanese. The people of Christian faith were happy to see us and pray with us. Our sisters were waiting for us for the noonday meal, which we honoured with hearty appetites. When the meal was completed, we went to the second floor to watch a program on national television about our visit at Sakura no Seibo Junior College when we had first arrived in Fukushima; then, a photo session, hugs and farewells.

Destination: the peach orchard. This visit concluded with a peach tasting session. Yummy... so good!

After the visit, we headed for Chofu. With joy, “Mama” Endo and the other sisters welcomed us as we stepped off the bus. The driver was excellent. Having already had our lunch, we enjoyed some fruit, a salad and some snacks prepared by the sisters. We each returned to our rooms for a restful sleep. It was our last day.

 

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