Peace Boat's 97th Asian Voyage Connects the Past to the Future (2018)
On March 7 and 8, 2018, only days after its return from the Oceanic region, Peace Boat departed from the ports of Kobe and Yokohama on its 97th East Asia Voyage.
Kicked off in Kobe by a trumpet sounded from the deck of the Ocean Dream, Peace Boat's cruise vessel, the first of two departure ceremonies included a welcoming speech by Peace Boat Culture School Instructor Ito Yuki and Cruise Director Toda Yoshiaki. Both spoke of the experiences that await Peace Boat participants on the adventure ahead: unparalleled natural wonders, unforgettable friendships, and the opportunity to learn about the diverse cultures, languages, and people of the Asiatic region.
The 97th Voyage will visit ten countries in the Western Pacific Ocean over a 47-day period before returning to Yokohama, Japan on April 23, 2018. Highlights of the journey include visiting the world-renowned Buddhist temple ruins of Semarang, returning to Timor-Leste for the first time in 17 years, and a scenic cruise through the limestone islets of Halong Bay. Onboard and in-port programming will explore the colonial past of the Asiatic region, connecting its complicated history to its present in support of more sustainable, self-sufficient, and equitable community networks. International guest educators will board the vessel to teach participants about these issues, using the Ocean Dream's non-governmental space to host dialogues necessary for building a culture of peace and reconciliation.
The voices of youth are vital to these discussions. For this reason, Peace Boat is especially honoured to welcome four Palau youth to the 97th Asian Voyage who will remain on board from Yokohama to Palau. During their stay, they will introduce their country and its culture to participants and reiterate the importance of recognizing and combating climate change and its effect on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Palau.
Although rainy weather moved the Yokohama departure ceremony indoors, nothing could dampen the spirits of the participants as they threw brightly coloured confetti in the air and joined the ship's captain in a celebratory champagne toast. For the next 47 days these participants will become a floating community, though each has their own unique reason for coming onboard.
"This is a trip to find myself," said first-time participant Hyodo Hikari, age 21. "I haven't travelled a lot, so I want to learn about other cultures first-hand to see how they differ from that of Japan.”
68-year-old Fukai Sachiko is returning to Peace Boat for the second time. "I'm very interested in Peace Boat's work supporting ICAN (the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate). On the last voyage, I heard the testimony of Hibakusha (survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings) which made me want to return for another journey with Peace Boat. I’m hoping to learn more about these topics on this voyage.”
As the participants of the 97th Asian Voyage explore the Asiatic region, they will expand their horizons in unimaginable ways. Travel is an opportunity to remind ourselves how little we know about the world around us. By exchanging reflections on the past and hopes for the future, participants will become both teachers and students each new person they meet throughout the Asiatic region. It’s Peace Boat’s hope that their discoveries bring us one step closer to a peaceful, sustainable, and nuclear-free world.