Walking down to Hamra like I always do; earphones on, music pumped as loud as it goes in order to mellow down the jungle like reality that is happening around me on the streets. Today, though, just after passing the Red-shoe intersection I saw a group of Asian looking elders. I have seen the same group twice already but today they did not look touristy to me like the times I encountered them before. Today, I saw them stationed each on a corner of the four corners on this main Hamra intersection. I noticed they were handing out books in Arabic, and stopping, mostly older, passersby. I passed by the first woman who was handing books and slowed down trying to make it obvious that I want her to stop me: but I was ignored. On the opposite corner there was a man doing the same, but he, too, was not interested in me: he was trying to get the attention of older people. I stopped, took my earphones off and went back to him, my curiosity, now, out of control: I was desperate to know what they were promoting. I walked up to the old Asian man hoping this wouldn’t be some kind Jehovah’s witness shit (those are simply annoying).
“Hey man, do you speak English” I asked
“Yes of course” Satoshi replied.
“What is it that they are giving to people? What are you guys pushing? “I inquired.
Satoshi, a Japanese man in his late sixties, gave me his business card which read Peace Ambassador under his name. A nice, smiley man, Satoshi got me instantly interested with his peace mission. I learned that Satoshi and his 5 lady friends from Japan came to Lebanon to hand out copies of a book called: As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen written by the (South) Korean reverend: Sun Myung Moon. The book they were handing out in Hamra is translated into three languages: Arabic which they pushed to people, English, and French in the bag in case of a request. Hamra pedestrians, on the other hand, were not showing the same curiosity to Satoshi’s lady friends that I had showed and it seemed no one was taking interest in the peace that was being pushed.
“Why Lebanon?” I questioned.”Why you decided to come all the way from Japan to Lebanon in order to promote peace: don’t be silly, Satoshi, peace is not our cup of tea here.”
Satoshi said (with his cute Japanese accent) that we see the region and Lebanon precisely slipping towards violence and we are here to promote peace to people: it’s needed in here.
I asked him if it was his first time in Lebanon, and he told me he had been here many times before. “Promoting peace” I asked.
“Yes” he replied with a proud smile.
“Walla ya3tik el-3afeyeh, tough task ya Satoshi, good luck.”
I was really intrigued by this phenomena and wanted to learn more about these peace-loving peeps so I asked for an English addition of the book (hoping it would be for free). Satoshi only had two copies on him in Arabic but ran instantly to the other corner and grabbed a book from one of the five ladies on his team. Satoshi handed me the book and out of politeness I asked if I owed him anything, but no, the book was free. I shook hands with Satoshi and used the only Japanese word I know Aregato (ありがとう) to thank him.
At lunch I had the urge to go back and talk more to Satoshi. There are all kinds of missions in town nowadays mostly foreign intelligence and the like; all kinds of shady missions, but not direct peace promoting missions. Finishing my lunch, I grabbed an iced-coffee from Younis, real quick, and walked back to Satoshi. Unfortunately by then Satoshi and his team had disappeared.