Japanese man treks for better Korea tiesA 60-year-old Japanese man is on an 80-day walk from Kamakura, Japan, to Seoul to promote Korean-Japanese friendship. Takemi Mamiya worked in Seoul for five years from July 1999 as chief branch officer of Hakuhodo, a Japanese advertising agency.
Mr. Mamiya began his journey from his hometown, Kamakura, Kanakawa prefecture, on March 9. He plans to take a ferry to Busan from Shimonoseki after passing through Nagoya and Kyoto. From Busan, he intends to walk through Ulsan, Gyeongju, Andong and Wonju and arrive in Seoul on May 28, a total distance of 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles).
Asked why he was walking, Mr. Mamiya said, “I wanted to see with my own eyes again the cultural heritage shared by the two countries divided by the sea.”
After retiring last year, he contemplated how he could contribute to the Korea-Japan Friendship Year as an individual and not part of a government or civic group. He said the aim of the trip is “to make a link between an old home in Seoul and my current home in Kamakura.”
He added, “I also wanted to return the kindness of Koreans I met when I was working in Seoul.”
Mr. Mamiya is walking 35 kilometers per day carrying a backpack that weighs 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and taking one day a week off. He is confident about his stamina, noting that he has taken part in 18 marathons, including the JoongAng Ilbo Marathon while working in Seoul.
He is updating his travel course and schedules on his Web site (www.kamakura-seoul2005.com).
He said some friends would join him on parts of the tour. As to the recent tension between the two neighboring countries over the sovereignty of the Dokdo islets, Mr. Mamiya said, “Korea is not a country that ‘would not deal with the Japanese’ because of diplomatic issues. It will take a while to solve problems politically, but we should continue our efforts to understand each other.”
by Kim Hyun-ki