Hana Arayashiki 8/30/85 Eagle River Rafting Drown

Peace activist dies in raft accident

by Don Hunter, ADN 9/1/85

Hana Arayashiki spent the last day of her 63 years asking people in Anchorage to sign up in support of peace on Earth.

She was a quiet, polite lady in a prim purple dress who spoke Japanese, and none of the people she approached could understand a word she said.

Some of them were businessmen, some were gardeners, some were tourists, and some were reporters, who aren't supposed to support anything. Some looked rough enough that they wouldn't support peace if it came with subtitles.

But they all signed the paper Hana handed them, first copying the prayer she provided - "May Peace Prevail on Earth" - then putting their names and addresses by it.

Late Friday night, Hana died. She drowned in the Eagle River, 3,000 miles from home, after she was thrown from a raft where the river flows through Fort Richardson military base.

Hana and the four other members of the Society of Prayer for World Peace, a Japanese religious organization headquartered in Tokyo, had spent the day erecting "peace poles" at Beans' Café, at Alaska Pacific University and in the small park in front of the old City Hall downtown.

They were continuing a tradition in force for decades. Thousands of the white poles, with the "may peace prevail" prayer, are in place around the world.

Later Friday, an Anchorage coordinator for the trip said, Hana and her friends were looking forward to a few hours of shopping and a boat trip.

Saturday morning, Maj. Mike Childs, a spokesman for the U.S. Army at Fort Richardson, said the raft Hana was in struck a log, throwing her into the river at about 8 p.m.

Fumi Johns, the only member of the Tokyo delegation who is fluent in English, said the group embarked on the trip at about 7 p.m. Friday, only about an hour or so before the accident.

"We just went on the raft, and she was thrown off," Johns said.

They waited on the river for help, she said. "The paramedics and fire department came, but it was a long time, probably 3 or 4 (Saturday) morning . . .

"I have no idea where it was - somewhere along the river," she said.

Childs said Bill Morris of Eagle River, the raft trip leader, pulled Arayashiki to a small island in the river to revive her while people in other rafts went for help.

Johns said the other members of the group were uncertain Saturday night whether they would continue with plans to erect another "peace pole" in Eagle river before leaving Alaska Monday.

"Everyone else is fine . . . but we're not sure yet," she said.