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(House in Emergency of Love and Peace) was founded
in 1986 by the Kyofukai, the Japan Christian Women's Organisation.
provides a refuge for women and children-both Japanese and
foreign-who are victims of domestic violence or abuse.
also runs a hotline counselling service in Japanese, Thai,
Tagalog and English.
in Tokyo, the HELP shelter is one of only about 50 private
shelters nationwide and it can accommodate approximately 15
women and children.
Thai, Colombian and Japanese women make up the majority staying
at the shelter, but HELP assists women of many nationalities.
costs about 3.6 million yen a month to run the shelter that
is funded mainly by donations, grants and the work of volunteers.
version of this page.
King now lives and works in Japan but the former Black Country girl,
who was raised in Quarry Bank, left England to travel the world,
working as a travel writer and photographer.
the Black Country to Japan
Mary settled in Japan in 1988, she still has family in Stourbridge
and many friends in the area. "Kawasaki, and some industrial
areas, remind me of West Bromwich or Walsall on a bad day. There's
not much in Japan to remind you of the Black Country except the
Tosa dog fights that I saw in Kochi city, Kochi Prefecture. It reminded
me of the Black Country tradition of Pit Bull Terriers."
decision to do 'Japan on Foot'
and friend Etsuko Shimabukuro had travelled many of the world's
continents together and this time decided to embark on a journey
walking the length of Japan.
Shimabukuro and Mary King at the monument a Cape Soya in Hokkaido
that marks Japan's northernmost point.
epic journey from Cape Soya in Hokkaido (Japan's northernmost point)
to Yonaguni Island, Okinawa (Japan's most southwestern island) saw
them covering more than 7,500km.
We have both travelled extensively around Japan and the world, generally
by plane, train, bus and the occasional camel and donkey. I've been
working as a travel writer and photographer for several years now,
both in Japan and overseas. Walking seemed like a fantastic challenge,
a way to really absorb Japan and her people."
on Foot was a project designed to raise funds and awareness of HELP,
a refuge centre for women and children who are the victims of domestic
violence and abuse.
shamaness and a mermaid
day, almost every moment had its highlights. The countryside was absolutely
stunning but most memorable moments were coming face to face with
Hokkaido's grizzly bear, meeting with a shamaness on Mount Osorezan,
staying in a haunted guest house, seeing the so-called tombs of Moses
and Christ, seeing and meeting with the yamabushi (mountain ascetics)
on Mount Haguro, seeing the mummy of a Living Buddha, holding the
mummy of a reputed mermaid, chatting with yakuza gangsters, visiting
breast shrines and penis shrines.
holds the mummy of a reputed mermaid
I could go on all day. As regards changes to me. Well, I feel mentally,
physically and emotionally stronger. I feel I can tackle anything,
if I truly want to."
and lost civilisations
on fire at a festival at on the island of Shikoku
and Etsuko met a whole range of fascinating people and new experiences
on their journey. A new found mental strength allowed Mary to take
part in a firewalking ceremony at a temple on the island of Shikoku.
were a number of key places and people that the women wanted to
see on their journey. Mary said;
particularly wanted to meet Kazufumi Goto, a scientist who hopes
to resurrect the woolly mammoth, as well as the marine geologist
who claims that an underwater structure lying off the shores of
Yonaguni Island, Okinawa, are the ruins of a lost civilization,
and one that predates Egypt.
places were Dewa Sanzan (three sacred mountains in Yamagata Prefecture),
Izumo Taisha shrine in Shimane Prefecture, the "ruins"
off Yonaguni Island, Okinawa, and generally the true countryside
to pick. Simply walking was a buzz. You can get really high off
it. The people were marvellous, the scenery beautiful, the food
fantastic. The whole experience was spectacular."
love to do it again. In fact, I hope to do it again in the not too
distant future, but take a different route. I would very much like
to do a
similar zigzag walk through Britain.Actually,
I wouldn't mind walking from Tokyo to London."
book of Mary and Etsuko's experiences, "Japan on Foot: Tales of
the Unexpected" by Mary King and Etsuko Shimabukuro will be published
later this year by Alexandra Press. Part of the profits of the book
will be donated to HELP shelter in Tokyo.
images copyrighted to Japan on Foot