Russell and I send our greetings from Japan. Right now we are preparing for our third seminar, which will be held in the State House in Chiba, sponsored by the Governor of Chiba Prefecture. Along with Yoko Kato we will be speaking to several hundred men and women about our work at the Men's Resource Center. We have been impressed with how many women and men in Japan are eager to hear about the MRC and already doing important work in Japan to change the laws and the culture to prevent domestic violence. We have met several men who are already doing work to organize men in Japan.In many ways it reminds us of the early days of the Men's Resource Connection.
Our previous seminars have been in Osaka and in Tokyo. Travel yesterday from Osaka to Tokyo was on the Shinkasen (bullet train) which is the fastest train in the world. We glimpsed Mt. Fuji as we sped through the countryside.
Our Japanese hosts have taken very good care of us every step of the way. We have much to learn from this culture. One poignant, bittersweet moment came when a man who spoke with us in Osaka said with appreciation for our visit, "You see, Americans bring other things besides bombs."
We are proud to represent Americans who can bring messages of equality, respect and peace to our brothers and sisters around the world. And know that we are planting seeds of a worldwide network of change as we meet fellow activists in Japan. We send you our love and appreciation for all you are doing.
Steven & Russell
It is now Thursday afternoon in Japan. Russell and I just finished two seminars in Fukuoka, which is on the Japanese island of Kyushu. Both seminars took place at the Fukuoka women's center. The women's centers in Japan are completely funded by the Prefecture (State) governments. They are very large, comprehensive agencies with many staff, located in beautiful, spacious, immaculate office buildings. I am sure people from U.S. women's centers would be very envious. I hope that some day U.S. women's centers will be so well supported.
This morning we spoke to an audience of 200, mostly teachers, mostly women. This afternoon we spoke with a group of 40 with more detail about the MRC and MOVE program. I have been using the Powerpoint slide presentation as a way to bring more of the MRC to Japan. [Web Editor's note: To read the text of Steven's presentation, click HERE.]
Yesterday Russell and I travelled by train from Chiba to Tokyo, where we were met by two people who took us to the Asakusa Temple for a few hours of sightseeing. Then we were interviewed by a reported from Fujonkuron, the oldest women's magazine in Japan (circulation of 250,000). They took many pictures and said the article will be published in their November issue.
The day before, Yoko, Russell and I spoke to over 200 people at the Chiba Prefecture State House in a program sponsored by Governor Domoto. We were also joined by a woman who works in a victim services program in Austria. Afterwards we were unexpectedly invited to dinner at the Governor's home, a magnificent traditional Japanese style house. After being saluted through the gate, butlers invited us into the front room where we exchanged our shoes for slippers. Dinner was elegant. The Governor is a brilliant 72-year-old woman (one of four female governors in Japan), who has been instrumental in introducing a domestic violence prevention law in Japan. She has just completed a book on programs that work with domestic violence offenders, which includes substantial information about MRC's MOVE program.
The day before this, Russell and I travelled by Shinkansen (bullet train) from Osaka to Tokyo, passing through over 300 miles of Japanese countryside and getting a brief glimpse of Mt. Fuji through the clouds. In Tokyo we spoke to a group of 40 people at Ochanamizu University. Afterwards we travelled by train to Chiba.
We have been delighting in Japanese food and Japanese hospitality every step of the way. As we travel the country I am realizing that there is a quiet revolution happening here in Japan. Everywhere we go we are seeing powerful women leaders who are systematically organizing in their communities. We are also meeting many men who are slowly, but surely figuring out how to organize program for men. They are all very hungry for information about the Men's Resource Center, and see our work as a valuable model and resource for their efforts.
We only wish that we had more time in each place to be more helpful and to deepen the relationships we are building. Clearly this is simply another step in a long collaboration between the MRC and Japan.
We feel the love and support of all of our friends, family and colleagues from the United States. Arigato.
I am sending this email to you from Kyoto the night before we leave Japan. Russell and I have spent the last two days sightseeing around the city, our first full days without any work commitments. It has been a delightful change of pace, but also sad to change our relationship with the country from one of colleagues, collaborators and resource to one of tourist.
Kyoto is a city of great contrasts. The train station is an architectural marvel, with gigantic modern spaces and huge department stores. The temples are ancient and magnificent. The landscaping and gardens are breathtaking and offer lifetimes of inspiration for me. And everywhere there are crowds of people. Beautifully attractive people of all ages. Dressed in modern urban clothes, as well as kimonos.
I am ready to head home, but will leave a piece of myself here in Japan.
My last email was from Fukuoka. We did three presentationa in that area, two at at the women's center and one at Kurume University. At the latter presentation there were 200 students. I've been promoting the "Japanese Men's Pledge Against Domestic Violence" with increasing confidence and enthusiasm. We got 57 male students to sign the pledge at Kurume University.
That afternoon we boarded the Shinkansen (bullet train), which we took to Hiroshima. There we were taken to the Peace Park. It was an emotional experience to walk through the museum and outdoor park at the sight of the dropping of the atomic bomb. Several of our hosts in this city lost family members in the bombing. We had a poignant discussion about how to promote men's involvement in domestic violence prevention with a group of women before we returned to the train (running to catch it at the last minute).
Russell and I arrived in Nagoya about 10 P.M. The next day we did an afternoon presentation in Nagoya and and an evening presentation in Yokkaichi (about 1 hour by train), after which we returned again to Nagoya (the fourth largest city in Japan). That evening one of our interpretors took us out on the town. We got to ask her many questions about life and relationships in Japan.
The next day we were back on the Shinkansen to Kyoto where we did our last presentation.
This trip has been a life-changing experience, and we are deeply grateful to everyone who has supported us in being able to make it. There is so much left undone, and we know that many of the relationships we have established will continue to grow in ways we cannot predict. There is a web of connections that now spreads around the world.
We are not looking forward to the very long plane ride home tomorrow, but will be glad to be ride home tomorrow, but will be glad to be back with our families and in our own beds.
With love and gratitude