Under fire Kyoto relents


KYOTO (majirox news) — Kyoto will now use the wood from the tsunami devastated town of Rikuzentakata at Iwate prefecture in the August 16 Obon fires after the federation of local bonfire festival organizers came under attack for refusing to burn woodblocks for fear of radiation.

About 340 woodblocks with prayers and messages to family members lost in the tsunami from Rikuzentakata had been rejected by the organizers due to protests from many of Kyoto’s residents. As a result, the woodblocks were burned in a bonfire on Aug. 8 in Rikuzentakata.

The Kyoto Municipal Government has now offered to take 500 woodblocks from Rikuzentakata, according to Hiroshi Tanaka, president of the Kyoto Gozan no Okuribi, a federation of five groups to preserve the bonfire festival. The five-member festival organizers have accepted the government’s offer. The municipal government will test the woodblocks for cesium and iodine.

“We’d like to burn the woodblocks for the peace of the disaster victim’s’ souls, Tanaka said. “Kyoto, a tourist spot, should also attach importance to its ties with the disaster-hit areas.” Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa decided to use the new woodblocks from Rikuzentakata after being inundated with protest about the previous decision not to use the woodblocks. (See the link to “Kyoto rejects safe wood from disaster area for fire ritual” – http://bit.ly/qe3SPP

However, Daimonji Honzonaki’s (The Society of the Preservation of the Daimonji Bonfire) leader, Kotaro Matsubara, said while it’s important to provide the public with the Rikuzentakata’s residents’ feelings, the Kyoto mayor’s offer to provide 500 woodblocks to his organization came a bit abruptly. He added that it was a tough decision the group made not to burn the woodblocks in Kyoto’s bonfire, but radiation fears could not be totally ignored.

Naoyuki Ogi, a 14th generation Buddhist priest at Choshoji Temple in Yamaguchi prefecture, said, “Using the wood from the tusmani-devastated town of Rikuzentakata by Kyoto Municipal Government will help reduce discrimination against the victims and materials in the stricken area.” He noted that it will help in healing the pain suffered by the surviving families, spiritually and socially.

Prior to the Obon festival fires, Kyoto plans to burn some of the 500 woodblocks in front of the Kyoto City Hall on Aug. 15 to promote world peace.



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