By Hideo Nakazawa
It was in the summer of 1968 when I first encountered the Japanese peace prayer and message, "May Peace Prevail on Earth" written in beautiful Japanese Calligraphy. I saw on a small vertical paper sticker which was placed on the wall of a natural food store in Shibuya, Tokyo.
Triggered by the anti-Vietnam War movement in the United States at the time, there was much unrest amongst students at the end of the 1960s. I was a student of Tokyo University at the time. The students at my university boycotted classes, held anti-war discussions, demonstrated in the streets, and sometimes battled with the police. I spent this time reading literature, philosophy, and religious books to find answers to my life problems. I was interested also in the macrobiotic diet of George Ohsawa and visited the health food store often. The beautiful calligraphic letters of the peace message, May Peace Prevail On Earth, caught my eyes each time. The message stimulated me, but it gradually passed from my remembrance.
In March of 1969, I read a book on Lao Tsu written by an unknown author. It was a Lao Tsu interpretation by Masahisa Goi (1916-1980). In the book, I encountered again the peace message and prayer, May Peace Prevail On Earth. I learned that it was Mr. Goi who had advocated the peace prayer. His Lao Tsu book fascinated me. I understood that there are deep spiritual insights behind this simple prayer. In April, I attended Mr. Goi’s lecture at his association, The Byakko Shinko Kai (White Light Association). Mr. Goi soon became my spiritual mentor and master.
Soon thereafter, Mr. Goi encouraged a group of students to organize a peace march from Tokyo to Hiroshima promoting the message, "May Peace Prevail on Earth", instead of battling with the police. This peace march was to begin on June 15th and end on August 6th, Hiroshima Memorial Day. I participated in it as I had no classes, and walked from Tokyo to Hiroshima appealing to people "Let's pray for World Peace!" In many cities, we young marchers put up thousands of May Peace Prevail On Earth stickers on the walls of houses and shops along the way. The reactions of people were very positive.
The paper peace stickers tore quickly and did not last long. Several years later, they were upgraded to plastic ones which were glued onto walls with strong adhesive. However, when they became unglued, an ugly patch of adhesive remained on the walls which was a problem. In the middle of 1970s, Mr. Yosuke Seki, director of Byakko at that time, thought of creating another way to display the peace stickers using a four sided column. This gave birth to the modern day Peace Poles and the Peace Pole Project.
Every year on August 6th and for the last 22 years on the anniversary of the atomic bomb, I visit Hiroshima to help organize a World Peace Flag Ceremony in Hiroshima Peace Park. Last year, a young Buddhist monk walked by during the ceremony. My wife Michiko invited him to carry the flag of Japan during the flag ceremony which he happily accepted. She also proposed to gift a Peace Pole to his temple in Nara which we did a few months later. This was one of the last Peace Poles my wife dedicated as she suddenly passed away soon after. I write this article as a tribute to her honor and lifelong dedication to spread the message, May Peace Prevail On Earth. I am convinced that all the hundreds of Peace Poles my wife planted and dedicated in her lifetime are energetically merging with all the tens of thousands of others planted around the world to continue awakening the consciousness of humanity toward the restoration of human divinity.
Professor Emeritus of German Literature and Philosophy, Tokyo University
Councilor, Goi Peace Foundation
Ichikawa City near Tokyo
Born in 1948 in Hokkaido, Japan. Study of German literature and philosophy at Tokyo University and Bonn University. Now professor emeritus of Tokyo University, Councilor of Goi Peace Foundation,volunteer member of World Peace Prayer Society, adviser of annual Hiroshima World Peace Prayer Society.
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This article appears in:
2014 Catalyst, Issue 13: Peace Poles - International Day of Peace