Elementary school students quietly support a blind man's bus commute to work.
Small kindness has been passed down to juniors and has been called the "relay of small hands."

But last year, the relay was suddenly interrupted.
The man fell ill and was hospitalized.

"I want to ride the bus with my children again"

The fate of the "small hand relay" that has been going on for more than 10 years ...

(Wakayama Broadcasting Station Reporter Daisuke Ueda)

I'm doing three lives, God forgive me.

October 10 last year.
Hirotaka Yamazaki, 8, of Wakayama City, suddenly lost strength in the bathroom of his home and collapsed on the spot.

What happened to
me that I couldn't
He was taken to the hospital by ambulance and underwent emergency surgery.
It was a stroke.

Although he survived, he was paralyzed in the right half of his body and could not speak.

Hirotaka Yamazaki:
"Well, I don't know if he would have died, if it was too late. Really, life, when I was able to see, when I was blind. So, I became paralyzed. I'm doing three lives. I hope God forgives me,"

I said in frustration on my hospital bed.

"Small Hand Relay"

In his 30s, Yamazaki suffered from an incurable disease called retinitis pigmentosa, and gradually lost his eyesight.

I commute to work by bus. Road ditches and the sound of cars.
Each thing that I hadn't bothered about until then became a big burden.

By the time I got to work, I was exhausted.
I was so tired of my job that I even thought about quitting.

Hirotaka Yamazaki:
"There was a time when I was blind and rough, and I couldn't do my best work or do it. I thought I'd quit my job,"

one morning.
Mr. Yamazaki is waiting for the bus at the bus stop as usual, when he hears a girl's voice.

"The bus has arrived."

Around the waist, the feeling of small hands. The girl gently pushed her hips and guided me to the entrance of the bus.

He was a student at an elementary school attached to the Faculty of Education of Wakayama University who was waiting for the same bus as Mr. Yamazaki.
From that day, the exchange between Mr. Yamazaki and the girl began.

While waiting for the bus at the bus stop and in the car, they told me about school events.

As I spent time with the girls, the commute time I hated so much was the beginning of a happy day.

But the days passed, and the girl graduated from elementary school.

"Are you going to commute alone again?"

I hear a voice as I think about it.

"The bus has arrived,"

said a junior girl who was watching Mr. Yamazaki and the girl go to school.
They supported me by imitating what I saw.

The "small hand relay" that the children started on their own continued for more than 10 years until Mr. Yamazaki collapsed from a cerebral infarction last year.

"I'm waiting to be with you again."

Yui Nishimae, a fourth-year student who took over the baton from her two older sisters.

Since I was a first-year student, I have been enjoying the conversation with Mr. Yamazaki every morning at the bus stop and continuing to support him.

Mr. Yamazaki's hospitalization made it impossible to provide support, but Mr. Nishimae continued to wish to "ride the bus with me again."

Tomomasa Nishimae:
"My mom told me that Yamazaki-san wanted to go with everyone, so I want you to do your best. I want to meet Mr. Yamazaki,"

I sent a New Year's card to Mr. Yamazaki with a message of encouragement.

"I'm waiting to be with you again.

"I want to ride the bus with my children."

In order to respond to this desire, Mr. Yamazaki worked hard every day at the hospital for rehabilitation.

At first, I couldn't even stand alone.
With support, I did my best to walk a short distance.
I also can't put any effort into my right hand holding the white ginger.

I almost gave up many times.
Still, it motivated me.

Hirotaka Yamazaki:
"I want to ride the bus with my children, so I'm working rehabilitation,"

said Yamazaki, who continued his rehabilitation without rest.
Eventually, little by little, my hands and feet began to gain strength.

Last December, more than two months after he collapsed.

Mr. Yamazaki dragged his legs a little, but recovered enough to walk alone with a white ginger in his hand.

Even if you are lonely, smile

Mr. Yamazaki was discharged from the hospital.

This February. With my daughter guiding me, I visited Mr. Nishimae's house on the way to the bus stop.

"Good morning Yuga-chan,"

Mr. Yamazaki greeted as he sat down in his chair.
And I told him an important story.

Hirotaka Yamazaki:
"I really thought I'd take the bus in April, but the doctor said that the steps on that bus were too high, so it would be impossible to recover in April. Unfortunately, I gave up on taking the bus" Tomomasa Nishimae "I was hoping we could go together again" Hirotaka Yamazaki


But sometimes I go to the bus stop to see my face.

When Mr. Yamazaki dared to act cheerful, Mr. Nishimae smiled slightly and showed a relieved expression.

Thank you "in everyone's small hands"

Mr. Yamazaki was led by Mr. Nishimae to a nearby park.
The three children who have supported us so far have gathered.

Mr. Yamazaki expressed his gratitude to the children.

Hirotaka Yamazaki:
"Thank you for your support so far, it was a really fun commute,"

the children also congratulated Yamazaki on his recovery and thanked him so far.

"Thank you very much."

He then handed them a handmade envelope with a paper cut out depicting a bus.

Inside were Braille message cards that the children worked hard to make.

"I'm glad you dared to do it Yamasaki-san. I'm looking forward to seeing it again."

And each person read the message aloud with all their heart.

Tomomasa Nishimae: "Thank you for the four years, let's go for a walk together again," Hirotaka Yamazaki:

"I'm happy. I'm in tears."

And it brings back many memories with the children.

Hirotaka Yamazaki:
"I think my life was much more difficult, but thanks to getting to know them, I think I lost my sight, and I have many memories for the rest of

my life."

One girl's casual kindness continued uninterrupted, and she was supportive of Mr. Yamazaki.

Although the relay reached its goal and they no longer commuted by bus together, the memories with the children will continue to support Mr. Yamazaki.