by Dave Warner

Japanese Buddhist Nun, Jun-San Yasuda from the Nipponzan Myohoji order, started a prayer walk on Tuesday in Little Falls and intended to end it today in Fonda.

Yasuda has walked tens of thousands of miles, and she has been carrying a message of harmony and peace since 1978. That year, she participated in the Longest Walk, a trek from San Franciso to Washington D.C. to raise awareness of concerns affecting American Indians.

She founded the Grafton Peace Pagoda in Rensselaer County more than 25 years ago and is its caretaker, and when she walks, she is beating her drum and chanting a prayer for peace – Na-Mu-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo.

Yasuda said, “Some native people from this land said, ‘Our mission is taking care of this Earth.’ We are [of] the same feeling. Without taking care of this Earth, how do we live in this world? That’s my feeling.”

Alexandra Tamburro was one of the peace walkers that started in Little Falls on Tuesday and stated, “Today we are walking to honor the land, the water, and the Mohawk Nation. We’re going to walk along the Mohawk River doing ten miles each day for three days. It will culminate on Thanksgiving Day, where we’ll present a pumpkin pie to Mohawk Chief Tom Porter.”

Tamburro said the walk was also a commemoration of the 400th year of the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock. She said, “There was a lot of suffering by indigenous people in this area, so we’re walking to promote peace and heal the land.”

Photo by Dave Warner – Jun-San Yasuda heads through the Ann St tunnel on her way to blessing the Mohawk River, along with her peace wakers.

Each step with the drum is a prayer, so Tamburro said that with the sound, you get to alter everything around you in a healing way. “The chant is the last part of the Lotus Sutra honoring the light inside of each of us.”

Megan McLean was another of the peace walkers and she stated, “Every time we do a prayer walk, it’s for the basic healing of the earth, the water, creatures and people here. I met Jun-San when I was eighteen and I turn 33 tomorrow and I’ve been walking with her since then.”

“With this Thanksgiving Week coming up, we’re just having a mindful prayer walk, thinking about who’s land we’re actually on,” stated McLean. “I believe the healing of our country specifically, and the world will be apparent when we realize historically what has gone on here so that we can sort of mend and heal.”

Photo by Dave Warner – Megan McLean prepares incense for the walk while Japanese Buddhist Nun, Jun-San Yasuda looks on.