Monday, May 7, 2007

Went to Tachikawa Daini Junior High School. This morning I arrived at the school gates earlier than usual, and that made it possible for me to greet almost every student who comes to school through the front gates. Among the third graders whom I had not met in April, some greeted me by saying, "It's been a long time since I last saw you," and some just went past by me with a grin. It was interesting to see a variety of reaction.

Once students had all gone inside the gates, I began my work, sitting on my chair, as usual. After a while, I noticed a car slowing down as it approached me. As it was going past where I was sitting, its window rolled down and a man stuck his head out and called out, "Keep at it!" And then the car sped up to leave. I stood up in response and shouted back, "Thank you very much." I did not quite catch his face, but I figured, from the look of the car and the feel of the voice, it must be the same person who gave me a word of encouragement last year. When someone energizes me like this early in the morning, I feel I can start a day refreshed and recharged.

Two people stopped to look at my sign today. One was a man in his 70s. He told me that his older brother had lost his life as a Kamikaze pilot, and because he had died in the name of "patriotism," this man felt uncomfortable negating "patriotism" altogether, since negating it could amount to dishonoring his brother's death. That was why he thought both "patriotism" and "Kimigayo" ought to be honored. "Having said that," he continued, "the punishment you are enduring does not make sense." The other was a man in his late 60s, and he said, "[The punishment] is too severe. The world is going crazy. I hope you can hold up." He also said, "That you are standing right here is in itself a powerful message." I have been trying to explain my cause by putting my whole self in the front line and to draw people's attention to the alarming direction Tokyo's education is heading in. This man seemed to acknowledge my effort as "a powerful message," and I felt encouraged.

I had three visitors in the morning. Ms. Miyako Masuda, a former junior high school social studies teacher, had launched a law suit against Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education regarding their decision to dismiss her from teaching, and its hearing was scheduled to begin at 1:00pm. I left the school to attend it. It was already 3:30pm by the time I returned to the school gates. I couldn't make it to the time when the students were going home. They had left school early today, since there were only five class hours scheduled for the day. At five o'clock, I began to think about going home when my phone rang.

It was from Mr. A., who was now a senior high school student. His high school is adjacent to Tachikawa Junior High School. We decided to meet at the South Gates of the Junior High School - the Gates were located closest to the high school. There Mr. B. joined us, and three of us enjoyed chatting. Since the South Gates were 100 meters away from the high school gates, the high school students who were heading toward the train station would pass by us. Friends of Mr. A. and Mr. B. called out, "Is that your mom, Mr. A.?" "What are you doing there?"

We kept chatting until past 6:00pm. Six was the time when all the students had to leave the school by, and so all the students who had remained at school came out. They included some of the graduates from Tachikawa Daini Junior High School, and I was able to see them as well. Thank you, Mr. A., for such an enjoyable time. Mr. A. is a graduate from Tachikawa Daini Junior High School. He had read my "going to work under suspension" journal on the Internet and begun to come to see me every now and again.