Day 5. July 14, 2012
Here we are now on Sunday, July 15, 2012 in Japan or for all y’all in the US, Saturday, July 14, 2012. Will you ever catch up?
I awakened at 5:45AM after a great 8 hour sleep not even disturbed by Africa pushing me around in bed. Yes, I admit it, Africa likes to sleep on the bed with me when we travel and I allow it. There is no such luck for her at home.
I listened to “The Shadow” on my iPhone using OOTunes since I had a Wi-Fi connection. I am unable to get KCBS or any other US news station here due to some sort of licensing issue. I can’t get the full announcement as it keeps cutting out, but for whatever reason the news doesn’t come through. I will keep searching for a news station as I can.
I called Karen at around 6:15AM and talked with her and Judy. No news on the home front. I then spent time catching up on email before getting dressed and ready for the day.
Yoshie and Mr. Shirai came to my room about 8:45AM and we all went down to breakfast. I broke down and had a small bit of scrambled eggs and some sausages to go with my Japanese meal. Again, a wonder meal was had by all.
After walking Africa we all went to our rooms to pack and prepare to leave. I got in a bit more relaxation before the knock came and we had to leave. Africa got in one more walk before we left by limo for the Daiwa House and my speech.
Mr. Shirai and I agreed that I should leave more time for questions as people thus far seem to like to ask more questions than we have time to handle.
When we got to Daiwa House we were greeted by Mr. Hori its president whom I met Friday evening. He and others took us to a small room where we could wait for the speech. However, we decided that signing books in advance of sales was a good idea. Mr. Shirai had taken my Roselle pawprint stamp down to the book table already. His thought was that books should be stamped and that I could sign them later. I wanted to sign while they were stamping, but Mr. Shirai was the boss.
After about ten minutes of rest Yoshie wanted to visit the auditorium in order to see the stage. I tagged along and before we knew it we were asked to visit the book sales table where people were purchasing books and wanting signatures. I spent the next half hour signing books as fast as they could be stamped. I miust have signed 100 books. Cool!
At 1:30 we entered the auditorium to a rousing round of applause. The announcer for the day introduced me briefly. Then Mr. Hori spoke telling how he had been driving during the March 11 quake and knew immediately that he would have to mobilize his company’s resources in the aftermath of the tragedy. He tied his experiences back to those I encountered on 9-11.
It was then time for me to speak. Africa and I went up on stage and talked for 45 minutes. I spoke about growing up and about what it was and is like to be blind. I gave a brief account of my 9-11 story and ended my talk by encouraging the audience to work closer together and to find ways to make better teams. We then opened the event to a Q&A session. After 45 minutes the questions were coming fast and furious. Comments from a few audience members stick out in my mind. First, Mr. Hori related how children with disabilities were routinely killed in the early 1950s rather than be given a chance to grow and thrive. There weren’t even incubators to house prematurely born children. What a sad state of affairs Mr. Hori described. He said that the best minds felt that death was the best solution.
Another person talked about relating to animals and asked why Roselle didn’t seem afraid while we were walking down the stairs. I explained that the team kept each other calm and focused.
At 3:30PM we left Daiwa House after a wonderful and uplifting time. As I told people there I learned as much from them as they learned from me. I should tell you that while signing books I met Mr. Shirai’s secretary, Mrs. Arai and her daughter. They helped at the book table. I have some great photos of us signing books.
When we left Daiwa House we traveled to the train station to get the bullet train, (Shinkansen), to go to Hiroshima. The trip would take about 4 hours and we would travel nearly 800 Kilometers. We were joined for the trip by a college student named Kenji. He was hired to help with logistics and to assist us in moving baggage about. I learned that he will be coming to the US this fall to attend Fuller Seminary in Pasadena. Kenji, Mr. Shirai, Yoshie, Africa and I boarded the train around 4:35PM and we were off.
I am writing this while on the train. It surely does not feel like we are traveling as fast as 310 Kilometers per hour. Mr. Shirai got us sandwiches soon after we left Tokyo. Actually, the bread was fresh and the sandwiches tasted better than the meals I have had on trains in the US. Wi-Fi is readily available on the train if you wish to pay for it. I did not choose to do so. Instead, Yoshie and I examined the photos I had taken with my iPhone. I uploaded them to my Netbook which is plugged into a nice electrical outlet located at my seat. Every seat has an outlet and small table.
One thing we encountered was that Africa cannot go under a seat on this train as the footrest blocks her. However, the seats swivel so we were able to create two facing seats with plenty of room for Africa to sleep. Yoshie and I gave her a few treats and she then dropped off.
I am writing this entry while riding the train. I am going to have to close for now as we shall be reaching our station fairly soon. Later I will tell of our arrival and what follows. We got to Hiroshima station close to 9PM and went directly to the hotel. The room was a true matchbox size, but it fully accommodated our needs including space on the bed for Africa and me. After feeding Africa we went out for a late dinner. We had to try three restaurants before finding one which would accept Africa. We were met in Hiroshima by the director of promotions for the YMCA. I didn’t learn about the restaurant problem until we were in the third restaurant, a seafood restaurant naturally, and eating. I told the director of the Japanese law. He was aware of it, but just reacted like most people and didn’t even think about pushing back. He told me he would never allow himself to be pushed around like that again. People never think of the issues we as blind people often face until they encounter them for themselves. In knowledge comes strength.
By 11:30PM we were back at the hotel, Africa walked, and we all headed to bed. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day with stops at the Hiroshima Peace park and museum and then a public speech at the YMCA. More excitement ahead I am sure.