School students dressed in kimonos and others in traditional Gujarati attire — depicting Indo-Japanese cultural connect — were in line to greet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his wife Akie and PM Narendra Modi as they set off on an 8.5-km roadshow in an open jeep from Ahmedabad airport to Sabarmati Ashram on Wednesday. Over 3,000 school students and more than 200 teachers from more than 50 municipal and 25 private schools in the city were roped in to greet the dignitaries. Several students waved flags of both countries; some performed yoga, raas garba with dhol and fusion dance along the riverfront route to Sabarmati Ashram during the roadshow. As many as tableaux from 28 states were also placed on the roadside, celebrating India-Japan bonhomie.
Sporting a maroon printed kurta with a matching plain palazzo and white dupatta thrown on one shoulder, Akie Abe was seen clicking photographs and shooting videos of the children on her mobile phone. Apart from students from Classes VI to VIII stationed as part of the roadshow, 15 teams of municipal school scout bands were positioned at the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) stations from Sabarmati Ashram to Vastrapur Hotel, where Abe and his wife made a brief stop before they headed towards the 16th-century Sidi Saeed mosque.
“The preparations spanned for one week ahead of the roadshow. All municipal schools across the city for today were shifted from two (morning and afternoon) to one shift from 7 am to 12.30 pm. This was done keeping in view the traffic diversions and restrictions,” said Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation School Board administrative officer (AO) L D Desai.