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Yu-Ai December issue 2019 — WFC Reflection by Natalie Kuca

2020-01-09 | Comments Off on Yu-Ai December issue 2019 — WFC Reflection by Natalie Kuca

Yu-ai Friendship
Newsletter of the World Friendship Center, NPO

WFC Reflection
Natalie Kuca

(Translated by Mikiko Shimizu)

At the end of May, one of the WFC board members, Tachibana-san invited me to visit a social welfare center in the area that had history with zainichi Koreans, which was one of my fields of interests in Japanese studies. Tachibana-san had worked in the day care at the center, and he was able to arrange for the director of the center to give us a tour of the facility and tell us about its history. By the end of the meeting, my interest was piqued and I offered to volunteer at the center once a week. My first Friday at the center was a bit overwhelming and I was very nervous as no one spoke English, so I was forced to rely on my own Japanese skills. I worked with first and third-grade students in the after school program and I found that I was so nervous that I often couldn’t communicate with them in Japanese. Most of the children were shocked by my appearance and multiple students asked me whether I was Japanese and were even more shocked when I replied that I was America. They were very shy when approaching me and whispered “gaijin,” or ‘foreigner’ in small groups. Slowly, a group of girls became comfortable around me and they began to ask various questions about my family and flying on an airplane while pawing my blonde hair and staring at my blue eyes. My second Friday at the center was noticeably more relaxed as everything and everyone finally looked familiar to me. I even found that I was much more comfortable speaking Japanese as well. Granted, these were first and third-grade students, but my comprehension of their fast-face Hiroshima dialect had significantly improved.

Additionally, on the third Thursdays of both May and June, Yovana, Barb, Dannie, and several WFC board members volunteered at a hibakusha retirement home. The first day at Mutsumien was enjoyable because both Yovana and I were able to introduce ourselves in Japanese on the stage and then were able to watch Hawaiian hula dancing by a local amateur troop. For June, the chairwoman of the WFC, Michiko-san asked us to prepare a small activity for the members of the retirement home. Naturally, Yovana and I decided on bingo, which is an enjoyable gave for people of all ages. We prepared three small prizes for the winners and had a lot of fun shouting the numbers in Japanese and cheering for the winners. The grannies were so excited when they won their WFC pens as they weren’t expecting anything as a reward.

Yovana and I were entrusted with an important responsibility during our fifth week in Hiroshima. The co-directors had planned to take this weekend off and left Yovana and I in charge, and we were very honored by their trust in our abilities. Barb and Dannie left on Saturday morning, but Yovana and I prepared breakfast for nine people all by ourselves. Luckily, Leona and Maila, along with their mother, Mirei, were staying at the WFC for a performance that weekend and were able to help relieve our anxiety and took some of the pressure off being in charge. We were able to prepare breakfast with no problems, and had incredible discussions with our Californian guests during the meal. The easy-going nature of this group of guest was a great relief for everyone, and we were able to proceed with the weekend with minimal issues. The groups’ scheduled hibakusha survivor, Soh-san gifted us with his handmade fans and handcrafted wooden pencils made from his own cherry trees. His generosity exemplifies the overall compassion and generosity everyone at the WFC has shown us. Yovana and I have taken to calling the board members of the WFC our sweet grannies because they constantly spoil us with fun conversations and stop in to give us fruits and sweet treats.

In addition to our Monday and Tuesdays at Shudo University, we also join in on a WFC English class on Wednesdays. I have been particularly impressed time and time again with the proficiency and fluency these students demonstrate every class. Their class begins by a presentation made by one of the students, which oftentimes include history of post-war Hiroshima or their family member’s experiences during the bombing in English. This class in particular maintains a mandatory break where they serve tea and they share snacks with one another. The second half of the class includes the reading of an autobiographical account of Shinzo Hamai, the mayor of Hiroshima that fought for reconstruction, again in English. I find that this type of learning is especially effective in helping students with retention of new vocabulary and comprehension. In fact, I have become so inspired by this technique that I am planning on purchasing a couple of Japanese books and trying to translate and read these novels on my own.

Yovana and I were given the incredible opportunity to hear ten hibakusha testimonials. These testimonials detail accounts of the same humid early-August morning seventy-three years ago, but the experiences of each hibakusha and the lessons and challenges they confronted all manifested in different ways. Their powerful and emotional stories forced me to realize the importance of denuclearization movement. When I was learning about the Pacific Theatre of WWII in high school, I was under the impression that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were irrevocably necessary to bring an end to a decade of war in Asia. During a discussion in history class, I had even taken the side of the American government and stated that the bombing had been necessary. The real problem for most Americans is that the education on the end of the war with Japan is incredibly biased. The Japanese citizens are painted as ferociously devoted to their emperor and their militarist government that, in the case of an American invasion, the women and children would attack American soldiers with bamboo spears. America argues that millions of young American lives would have been taken in the fight for Japan and they claim that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are demonstrations of what would have happened to all of Japan. In history textbooks there is little to no mention of the fire-bombing of the two dozen largest cities in the months leading up to American encroachment of Japan. During these bombings, hundreds of B-24s and B-29s razed cities to the ground until they resembled the images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that textbooks like to point to as a demonstration of American power. The difference between the fire and atomic bombings is that the latter were carried out by a single bomb, rather than thousands of them. These history books also fail to mention that the American navy had completely encircled Japan, preventing the import and export of valuable resources for their citizens and soldiers on both sides. Though students were mobilized to farm food and other resources in the countryside, and were often trained to resist possible invasion with bamboo spears, Japan was starving and women and children were dying from malnutrition at the time of the atomic bombing. Furthermore, the physical devastation of the atomic bombings, not including the unknown devastation of radiation posioning, was almost identical to the thirty other large cities in Japan that were fire bombed. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I have learned, were not as conclusive of Japanese defeat as our history books claim. The radiation, which effects come later, is the most devastating outcome of nuclear warfare and nuclear disasters.

The resilience of the hibakusha, and the rest of Japan after the war, was particularly inspiring to me. Though the bombing and its effects were harrowing, the survivors survived because they were all able to find something and someone to continue living for. I believe that such devastation is an important piece of survivors, but it does not consume their entire soul, there are many more pieces that create who they are and how they choose to live their lives. All the hibakusha have maintained that they wish for worldwide peace and for complete global denuclearization, not to compensate themselves but in order to prevent more people, more innocents, from suffering from the inevitable devastation nuclear weapons and nuclear disasters present.

As we began our last week in Hiroshima, Yovana and I both found it difficult to imagine going home when we were so in love with Hiroshima. The people we have met here have made everlasting impressions and the history we have learned here will continue to persuade us into peace activism in our communities back in the States. I have grown a lot during this internship and am eternally grateful for the opportunity I have been granted and I will work hard not to squander it.

Copyright © NPO World Friendship Center 2019 All Rights Reserved

Yu-Ai December issue 2019 — Experiencing Hiroshima through the World Friendship Center by Yovana Milosevic

2019-12-04 | Comments Off on Yu-Ai December issue 2019 — Experiencing Hiroshima through the World Friendship Center by Yovana Milosevic

Yu-ai Friendship
Newsletter of the World Friendship Center, NPO

Experiencing Hiroshima through the World Friendship Center
Yovana Milosevic

(Translated by Sumiko Kanetsuna)

Briefly living in Hiroshima, Japan and staying at the World Friendship Center is easily the biggest blessing in my life.  I encountered an entirely different culture by living in it for a month and a half, and there were surprises waiting for me at every corner.  I was able to participate in daily discussions involving peace, compassion, kindness, and debates on current world issues.  I attended numerous lectures on not only Hiroshima’s history specifically, but also about how it has been represented in the media over time, what the current nuclear situation is, which countries do and do not possess nuclear warheads, current problems in Israel-Palestine, and the influence of Fukushima in modern politics.

In addition to these riveting and relevant lectures, I heard several accounts of what happened the day of August 6th, 1945.  I was able to have conversations with people who survived that day, and all the days after.  There was a palpable sense of resilience and love radiating throughout WFC, and now that I’ve returned, that is one of my strongest memories. 

The hibakusha faced the world’s most hideous atrocity, yet they live their lives focusing each moment on peace.  They have devoted their lives to spreading peace, and this is not a sentiment anyone should take lightly.  It is difficult to find positivity and hope for the future during such turbulent political times, yet the people at WFC make this their purpose.  I was constantly inspired at WFC, and my hope for the future is that we all (myself included), take on the responsibility of actively advocating for peace.  I appreciate the World Friendship Center, their English classes, the lovely members, and all of the profound experiences I had this past summer. 

Copyright © NPO World Friendship Center 2019 All Rights Reserved

Yu-Ai November issue 2019 — Observation tour to Tottori Yonago Solar Park and Pumped-Storage Hydroelectric Power Station

2019-12-04 | Comments Off on Yu-Ai November issue 2019 — Observation tour to Tottori Yonago Solar Park and Pumped-Storage Hydroelectric Power Station

Yu-ai Friendship
Newsletter of the World Friendship Center, NPO

WFC Peace Seminar Activity Report
Observation tour to Tottori Yonago Solar Park and

Pumped-Storage Hydroelectric Power Station 
by Asaka Watanabe
 (Translated by Mikiko Shimizu)


Six members of the WFC Peace Seminar including the lecturer, Syoji Kihara, went on a trip October 22nd and 23rd.

It was a tour to learn from a variety of places, such as –

  • the circumstances of the Shimane nuclear power plant
  • an observation tour of the Matanogawa Pumped-Storage Hydroelectric Station between Tottori and Okayama
  • Tottori Nature and Environment Center which is a base of Tottori
  • Soft Bank Tottori Yonago Solar Park
  • Yonago Waterfowls Park, among others.

We listened to a lecture by Hitoshi Doko at his own tea house.  The tea house “Yodoemon” uses an unoccupied house in front of his home in Yodoe-cho. We enjoyed delicious cakes and coffee there.  Hitoshi is a councilman from Yonago who pursues the goal of denuclearization.  His talk started with a quiz asking us where the Shimane nuclear power plant was located.  Then, he told us about an evacuation route to be used if a very bad accident occurs.  He indicated a problem for the entire Japanese island, because radioactivity would move downwind according to the direction of the wind – usually a wind from the west. 

Tottori Nature and Environment Center is managed as a core institution for environmental education.  The highlight is the Soft Bank Tottori Yonago Solar Park, which spreads out next to the center and is the largest solar power facility in Japan.  The amount of electrical production is equivalent to that consumed in a year by approximately 12,000 ordinary households.  Tottori Next-Generation Energy Park consists of over fifty facilities producing power from solar energy panels or hydropower or wind power.  An eco-tour around the facility and other local sites was also provided.


The Nature and Environment Center keeps a family of three goats to eat weeds.  To help feed them, we picked leaves of the Kuzu vine (Pueraria lobate) on the river bank to give to the animals.  As a side note, the Center does not use any herbicides, and the goats are actually more popular with the children than they are useful at eating weeds.

Near Nakaumi is Yonago Waterfowls Park, one of the best wild fowl habitats in western Japan.  Here you can find nearly 42% of all the types of wild fowls found in the nation.  These amount to about 120 kinds of wild fowl and more than 10,000 total birds.  Yonago Waterfowls Park has been operating as an institution, with the assistance of concerned citizens, who together help protect and preserve nature.  We enjoyed observing water fowl through a telescope in the observation hall while listening to a volunteer instructor’s explanation.  A wintering place for a whistling swan group is located at the southern border of Japan. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the graceful fowls in their group as they had swum out for food.

The next morning, we visited Matanogawa pumped-storage hydroelectric power station, which was the main purpose for this trip.  Matanogawa dam produces 1,200,000kw by using the 500m difference in the height of the upper and lower dams.  The upper reservoir (Doyoh dam in Shinjho-mura, Okayama) and the lower reservoir (Matanogawa dam koufu-cho in Tottori) are large-scale facilities connecting both prefectures – Okayama and Tottori.  There is an underground power house located beneath the lower reservoir, where the electric power is produced in daytime.  Water is pumped up at night time by reversing the rotation direction of a reversible pump-turbine and generator motor. 


The pumped-storage hydroelectric power’s role is to make up for the difference in demand because it changes depending on the season, time, and day.  It also changes in dry weather by using solar energy generation.  Quite simply, the plant plays a prominent role in charging or discharging a large rechargeable battery.

During the night when the usage charge is less, water is pumped up from the lower reservoir using the electric power from the thermal power stations or the nuclear power stations.  The electricity in the daytime, when it is in great demand, is produced by dropping water into the lower reservoir from the upper reservoir and adjusted to the demands of consumer power.  It is then sent as electricity to homes or factories. It takes 7 hours to create electricity by dropping water from the upper reservoir to the lower reservoir and 10 hours to pump it up from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir.  Though it might seem to be a loss of 3 hours, this gap in time is necessary to maintain a stable supply of electricity.

Chugoku Electric Power Company has Matanogawa pumped-storage hydroelectric power station and two other pumped-storage hydroelectric power stations – Shinnariwagawa in Okayama (with a power capacity of 303,000kw) and Nabara in Hiroshima (with a power capacity of 620,000kw.)  I thought that the mechanism to balance production of electric power by using different sources was very interesting.

The leaves around the pumped-storage hydroelectric power station have already begun to turn to fall colors.  There seemed to be a chance to meet monkeys, deer and wild boar, maybe even a bear……unfortunately, we couldn’t see the underground power house this time because of ongoing construction.

We saw a catch-phrase of “Riches of Abundant Nature, Tottori” written in a pamphlet.  I felt that the effort toward nature and the environment which Tottori is undertaking – repeating trial and error time after time – will become the theme of living and be passed on to the next generation.  This was our educational trip to be applied in a variety of ways in our future activities.

It was beautiful weather!  We spent time in a relaxed atmosphere sharing lunch, which we got at the road station, “Takano”, and took in a scenic overlook of Lake Shinjiko.  We stayed in a hotel called “Unabara Soh” one night and enjoyed a hot spring, delicious meal, and conversation.  It recharged our energy!

When we came back, we drove in Bihoku Hillside National Government Park; unfortunately, we couldn’t see the field of cosmos flowers – it had closed a day before. After eating lunch at a restaurant in the park, we stopped by Miyoshi boutique winery to buy some souvenirs and left for home.

Dear Syoji Kihara,
Thank you so much for planning, preparing, and driving on the trip, with plenty of attention to us.
We offer our heartfelt thanks.

In writing this report, I used many phrases and thoughts of the participants’ emails.

Copyright © NPO World Friendship Center 2019 All Rights Reserved

Yu-Ai October issue 2019 — One Friend at a Time by Barbara Shenk

2019-10-25 | Comments Off on Yu-Ai October issue 2019 — One Friend at a Time by Barbara Shenk

Yu-ai Friendship
Newsletter of the World Friendship Center, NPO

One Friend at a Time
Barbara Shenk


In August, 2017, Hiroshima became our home, to a much greater degree than we could have imagined.  Many wonderful people involved in the World Friendship Center and beyond quickly befriended us.  The more we learned of Barbara Reynolds and the mission of WFC, the more it became our mission.  Sharing this mission with the 800 or so guests we hosted, over 1600 or so breakfasts we served, confirmed to us that peace is fostered “one friend at a time.” As we walked and bicycled in and around the beautiful city, we discovered almost magical places for relaxation and refreshment.   We already miss all these aspects of our two busy years at WFC. 

We miss the English classes where we read and discussed literature and histories together.  In these classes we learned so much about the daily lives and interests of our students and about special customs and places in Hiroshima and Japan.  And we laughed a lot.   

We miss the breakfasts with our guests where we had great discussions about war, peace, cultures, politics, and personal experiences.  Having guests from different parts of the world connect over breakfast was particularly satisfying.  Sometimes they would make arrangements to meet each other again.

We miss the warm friendships of the WFC board members and many others who came to support us and participate in the mission of WFC in whatever way they could.  This included helping with cleaning, bringing food, translating, editing, carrying away and disposing of unneeded items, improving the WFC website, taking guests or interns to the doctor, painting, sorting through books and documents, and moving furniture.

We miss the beauty of Hiroshima, from the rivers which were our daily companions, to Miyajima, the Inland Sea, the mountains, and perhaps as much as anything, the Mitaki temple complex and hills.  We also miss the oysters, okonomiyaki, and all the other wonderful foods of Hiroshima.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of our work in Hiroshima was witnessing the interactions between our guests and the hibakusha who came to share their stories.  Our guests were moved beyond words and often told us that this experience changed their lives forever.  It is impossible to calculate the effects of these guests retelling the stories back in their home countries. 

From the bottom of my heart I wish to thank all of you who enriched our lives immeasurably over our two years in Hiroshima.  We will never forget you or the mission we share. 

Copyright © NPO World Friendship Center 2019 All Rights Reserved

Yu-Ai October issue 2019 — Reflections on Hiroshima by Dannie Otto

2019-10-25 | Comments Off on Yu-Ai October issue 2019 — Reflections on Hiroshima by Dannie Otto

Yu-ai Friendship
Newsletter of the World Friendship Center, NPO

Reflections on Hiroshima
Dannie Otto


It is difficult to write about my experiences in Hiroshima, because when I think about the past two years, my mind is flooded with memories. We met many wonderful people. First of all, the Hiroshima people who are involved with WFC and contribute so much time and energy to the work of the center. In addition, there were the many interesting guests who came from many countries to learn about the effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. At times it seemed like we lived in two worlds. On some days, we would spend time with our international guests, serving them breakfast and then telling them the story of Barbara Reynolds and her work for peace and nuclear disarmament. Immediately after telling the Reynolds story, I would go to meet with local members of WFC in an English class where we would also reflect on the effect of the bomb on Hiroshima. I wish we could have brought these two groups of people together.

We enjoyed all of our international guests, but there were several who stand out in my memory. In February of our first year, a time when we were not very busy with guests, we received a request from a woman for a party of two, male and female. The reservation was on short notice but she was persistent that we could assure her that they could hear the story of an A-bomb survivor. When they arrived, we had time for tea and conversation together. After introductions, the woman asked if we ever have people in the military visit us. I couldn’t think of any but assured them that military people would be welcome. She then urged her male friend to tell us what he did. Eventually he told us that he was active duty in the U.S. Air Force and served in the Strategic Air Command where his job was to develop the programming to guide American nuclear armed bomber jets to their targets. His job was to develop a detailed checklist to guide bomber pilots from their base in Louisiana to the potential targets. His friend then interjected that they had come to Hiroshima and WFC because she wanted him to understand what would happen if there were another nuclear war.

The following day our two guests heard a survivor story, toured the Peace Memorial Park with a WFC guide and then visited the museum. In the evening he and I talked late into the night about war, the threat of war and the nature of peace. The next morning, they left. We never learned his name. He indicated that his superiors in the Air Force would not be happy if they knew of his visit. We never heard from them again. I often wonder if his visit to Hiroshima and WFC changed his views on his job.

Barbara Reynolds set the mission of WFC as “Fostering Peace, One friend at a time”.  We believe that this is an important mission and the example of our encounter with a member of the Air Force is one example of how we can engage people on a personal level with serious conversations. I am very grateful to WFC for giving me the opportunity to engage in peacemaking in this very personal way.

Copyright © NPO World Friendship Center 2019 All Rights Reserved