There was a documentary on TV last night about Iwaishima, and it's prompted me to post this.
This is Mr. H, a resident of Iwaishima, a small island off the coast of Yamaguchi. Mr H is 90 years old. I met him last year at the Kannmai Matsuri.
In 1969, a mere 40 years ago, a little over 2,600 people lived on Iwaishima, now only 520 are left. Of those 520 a full 75% are aged over 65 years old.
I had walked around on the island's only road to the far side to watch a ceremony. Yoko, with her bad hip, stayed in the village. It was a hot day, and Mrs H came out of her house and invited Yoko in to the house for some shade and a cold tea. While chatting Yoko told them where I had gone and they suggested that she borrow their bicycle and cycle round to meet me, and so it was as I was walking back I bumped into Yoko riding a bike that while not as old as the Mr H, was probably as old as Yoko.
So, I sat in their cool house and sipped tea while Mr & Mrs H chatted about their activism in the fight against the nuclear power station planned for nearby. The majority of the remaining islanders are against it and big anti-nuclear signs are painted an a few walls around the village. The local shrine has been boycotted by the people because the priest is not against the power station.
When we left their house they gave us a plastic shopping bag. In it was a pack of the island's green tea and a couple of packs of dried seaweed, a local speciality.
The kindness of strangers!