On New Year's Day 2019, some 360 people gathered at the Henoko beach to join the Hachi ukushi (first day of working or of rising) ceremony, celebrating the beginning of the year of the boar.
Traditionally, people in Okinawa hold the Hachi ukushi to pray for the safety and good health of farmers, fisherman, artisans, and community members and a good harvest, good catch, and good yielding in the year. We hold this traditional Hachi ukushi on the send or third day of the first month of the year in the lunar calendar.
The Hachi ukushi ceremony at Henoko is a little different from traditional ones, but it serves ultimately the same purposes. We prayed to the Nirai kanai no kami (gods of the outer world beyond the sea) that the U.S. military base would not be built in Henoko-Oura Bay so that the natural environment that provides us with food and livelihood would remain intact. We prayed that peace would prevail in the world without war so that people all over the world would enjoy a truly safe and healthy living.
|Dancing for a peaceful world|
|The Brave Henoko Blue team|
However, nobody at the ceremony had any illusion that our prayers would be answered easily. We all knew that this year would be extremely challenging and we would have to unite and fight.
Indeed, the scenery of Henoko today is much different from those of a few years ago. Although a very small part of the entire construction, these ugly seawalls built have become an impactful presence in the calm water of Henoko. Construction ships and the Japan Coast Guard's boats have replaced fishing boats and eco-tour boats.
Still, we can see that these seawalls, ships, and boats are all surrounded by the biodiversity-rich waters of Henoko-Oura Bay with over 5,300 marine species including some 260 endangered species. It is this contrasting scenery between the ongoing human-made destruction and the wonder and resilience of nature that compels us to keep fighting for the protection of Henoko-Oura Bay and a peaceful world.