September, 2016

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
We'd be happy if you look at
our previous issues.


My high-school class mate, Toshiko Ito wrote for this page this time.
She is a person who has continued to plant thousands of cherry trees in Bosnia i Hercegovina, wishing these blossoms would heal the scars of the wars.
Her articles appear in April. 2006, #73, and also November 2014, #176. Please see them from the previous issues.

In July, Toshiko came to me with three girls from Sarajevo. A lady accompanied them.
This trip is a reward to the girls who won the art contest which was sponsored by Toshiko's group.
I hope you enjoy meeting girls from Sarajevo.


Inviting Art contest winners to Japan from Sarajevo.
Toshiko Ito


 Time flies, and our Cherry Blossom Project meets its 15th year.
The cherry trees we have donated are now blooming in 6 cities in Bosnia i Hercegovina.
Ambassador Ogawa says that our cherry trees are loved much by people in the country, and some other cities express their hope to get some trees from our project.



 In 2014, we started an art contest for children from 7 - 15 in the theme of Peace under the cooperation of Sarajevo City. This year, it is 20 years since BiH and Japan established diplomatic relations. At this meaningful occasion, we wanted to invited three contest winners, and a lady who has helped our project for a long time. We started the preparation in last fall.


 During the preparation period, we searched for a method to decrease the cost, preparing necessary documents, buying award goods, contacting to Sarajevo City. Before visiting there in April, I fell ill and seemed that I could not go. But somehow I recovered and could go there. Three cities out of six where we planted trees we visited to do after care , and we could really hold the Art Contest of Peace. Ambassador Ogawa offered us a place and also offered Ambassador Prize, directly choosing the winner. Three winners were selected, and we went to the school of each winner to make an award ceremony.

After we came back to Japan, much preparation was necessary. Tickets, documents, visa, parents' consent, and so on. Thanks to Ambassador Ogawa, things went well and children could really come to Japan.


 Welcome to Japan!
At Narita International Airport

They arrived at Narita on June 30th.
Three girls are Dzejla Subacic (13), Hena Skaljic (12), and Zerina Muminovic (12).

The lady who takes care of the girls is Ms Vajka Kazic.
4 of them are Japanese, the members of our Group Ipil Ipil, including me.



Sanbonyanagi Primary School

On July 1, we visited Sanbonyanagi Primary School in Nagano Prefecture. This school supported BiH when the newly born country first participated in Olympic games in Nagano. Last year, we exhibited the pictures of the winners of the contest here in this school.
This day, the whole school warmly welcomed the girls from Sarajevo.


 The Royal Dog Hachi in front of Shibuya Station

Third day was a sightseeing day. Seeing around Tokyo.
The famous dog Hachi, that waited for his dead master at the exit of Shibuya Station for many years. Meiji-Jingu Shrine, Fashionable Harajyuku Street, souvenir shopping!
This night, we had a party at my house, with some members of our group.


 Garden party at Yoyokaku

The 4th day. We went to Kyushu. 9 hours' travel to our destination Karatsu. During the train journey it was raining on and off.
At Higashi Karatsu Station, a big smile of Harumi Okochi welcomed us. We are invited to stay at Yoyokaku. Harumi offered 2 nights' stay to make the girls experience Japanese style accommodation.
Girls hurriedly changed into swimming suits and run down the beach , jumped in the sea!
The night's party was a barbecue, prepared by Harumi and some of my highschool mates. Two Principals of primary schools were invited too. Harumi's two little grandsons entertained the Sarajevo girls.
After eating, children went down the beach again to enjoy fireworks. It must be a memorable night for the girls whose country faces the sea at only one narrow place.

Fifth day. We visited Taishi Primary School in Karatsu, where the pictures of Sarajevo children were exhibited last year. Looking round the school, visiting every class, and in one class girls learned how to write a Chinese character "Heart" in black Japanese ink with a brush. They were artistic and wrote character like a picture.

 At Taishi Primary School

 In the sixth graders' class, they discussed about the theme of 'Atomic bomb and peace'. Dzeila talked how important Peace is.
They played games together, and enjoyed friendship between two countries.
A farewell card, written in Bosnia language, sent away the happy girls.


After that, we visited the Mayor of Karatsu, whom I met some years ago when BiH Ambassador visited Karatsu. Prof. Inaba, who is the Chairman of the Educational Committee asked many questions. Mayor's gift pleased the girls. We went around some spots in the city, and the scenery from Karatsu Castle impressed them much. White sand beach, green belt of pine trees, sea, town,... these were viewed from the top of the Castle. 



After lunch, they went back to Yoyokaku, and jumped into the sea again. It was only a short while, but they enjoyed their sea thoroughly.

Next destination was Hiroshima. Here they once again studied about Peace.

On July 6, they left Narita International Airport, with a heartful memories of Japan. They will never forget this journey.


 How did you like the story of Sarajevo girls?
I believe these girls will grow and pass on Toshiko Ito's wish for peace.
Thank you for joining me. I will see you next month.

Thank you very much for joining me.
I hope you will visit us again next month.

 Mail to Harumi Okochi