It had been a very long time since I last went on a picnic! And, here I was in Japan with friends, spreading a tarp out on the ground of beautiful Water Mill Park in the town of Notogawa. The giant water wheel in the photo is the symbol of Notogawa. The mill served in years past as a rice mill. The giant wheel is a replica of the original, but the original wheel’s center hub in still on display at the park as well. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and we spread our picnic next to the concrete-lined waterway that curves through the park and is stocked with golden-orange carp swimming about.
(Personal Note: I later learned that Notogawa was the location of one of the WWII prisoner-of-war camps of the Osaka Camp Division. In respect to the American and Allied soldiers-and their families-who suffered here and elsewhere in Japan, I give this information. Conditions were brutal and starvation and disease rampant. On the average, one in three prisoners died in Japanese POW camps.)
The sad history of WWII is still very remembered in both cultures, and we must face the past to create a better future. I hope from now until forever, Japan and America get along as friends. Interestingly, my friend and I met years ago when she was a foreign exchange student from Japan to America. The organization she participated in was founded by a WWII veteran whose post-war mission was to help heal and restore Japanese-American relations.
So, here we sat, Japanese and American friends sharing fun and conversation, eating sandwiches made with bread without crust (bread comes crustless in square packages at the store), marinated onions, fried chicken and yakisoba. Bottled drinks included green tea and a beverage made from lychee fruit , which has a flavor resembling mild grapefruit. It was a peaceful and relaxing day.