Tohoku Youth Venture

Jul 17, 2014

"Preventing more people from dying due to earthquakes in the future." This is my wish.


Dear Global Givers

This is Hiroaki, Ashoka Japan’s Tohoku Youth Venture Programmatic Leader. 

We have selected 41 teams of Youth Ventures for 2years. I would like to introduce you to two unique youths.



I am from Wakayama Prefecture. Although large earthquakes are predicted to take place in the region, it is a big problem that people in the region are not very interested in the issue.

After I went to volunteer at areas affected by the earthquake, I tried to discuss with people in my region about the current situation in the devastated areas and showed them photographs. But their responses were that such issues are not very related to them. I felt a strong sense of crisis.


In those time, I met with Ikumi Nakazawa who live in Kesennuma and experienced the earthquake. She thought that in order not to render the lives of people who died from the earthquake meaningless, she needed to alert people in other regions of her experience to prevent the same tragedy from being repeated.


So I decided to convey the horror of tsunami and earthquake with her and created a plan to heighten the awareness toward prevention of disaster and conducted lectures and workshops in schools in Wakayama Prefecture. By listening form her directly, I thought that students in Wakayama Prefecture will feel more closely related to the issue.


What I learned from the experience was that it is very difficult to change people’s mind. No matter how much time you give them, it is meaningless unless every person gets prepared for the prevention of earthquake. Because I do not want my loved ones to die any more, I will continue to work to increase the awareness toward disaster prevention to as many people as possible.

Dec 2, 2013

Tohoku High Schooler Shares Her Experience: "Action is a message."

Yuuri, a Tohoku Youth Venturer.
Yuuri, a Tohoku Youth Venturer.

Dear GlobalGivers,


This is Hiroaki, Ashoka Japan’s Tohoku Youth Venture Programmatic Leader. Here in Japan,  it is starting to get colder and colder. This is especially so for the Tohoku area (Northeastern Japan) which suffered from the earthquake and tsunami. The cold is taking a toll on victims who live in temporary housing projects. 


However, I have some good news. We have recently had some of our teams finish our one-year Tohoku Youth Venture program.  As we continue to cheer them on, we have also welcomed into our program a new Venturer. I am thankful for all of our wonderful supporters and donators who have made this possible.


Today, I would like to introduce to you a Youth Venturer who started her activity earlier this year. She is also a victim of the tsunami disaster; her own house was washed away by it. Her name is Yuuri Tabata, a 17-year-old high school student. Please take the time to watch a video of a TV program in which her activity was covered, and to learn further about her “Kataribe” activity below.


The video: Fighting forgetting




My name is Yuuri. I live in Minamisanriku, Miyagi. Today I will present to you an actual speech that I gave in English.


Below is my speech:


The disaster on March 11, 2011 left signs of damage in my hometown, Minamisanriku, Miyagi. Because my house was ruined by the tsunami, I was forced to live in a temporary housing project. I have not seen the reconstruction that has been repeatedly promised over the last two years. I started questioning what the adults, who had been promising reconstruction, had actually accomplished. I believed that the adults in charge of addressing the situation would actually get something done, but it soon proved to be just an illusion. However, I noticed one more important thing: like those adults, I had also not taken action yet. That is why I started up "Kataribe" a group of students who tell our experiences concerning the disaster to the young generation.


Now, I have activities with "Kataribe" after school and weekends. For example, I talked to students who came to Minamisanriku for a school trip. Some of them cried after hearing my story. I hope they will be the next "Kataribe", telling my story to friends, family, and other people. Sometimes I have a chance to tell my experience to foreigners. Most of them are very surprised because earthquakes and tsunamis are not common to them. Maybe my English is not good, but I believe my story have reached their hearts. Through my activities, the disaster would continue to be told to younger generations.


Through these experiences, I have realized one important thing. Anybody can think, but what is important is to take action. You can say "Thank you" anytime. However you can lose your friends, family, and lover at any moment. You should think and then take action so that you will not regret later. The young will create the future and make this country better. You should think and then take action. These steps will change you, people around you, and even the world.


Action is a message.




Sep 9, 2013

Feel the Comfort Through Farming


Dear GlobalGivers,


This is Hiroaki Yabe, Ashoka Japan’s Tohoku Youth Venture Programmatic Leader.

I am very thankful for the support we have received in the past. It has been a year since we started this project and we are delightful to inform you that now we have 36 Tohoku Youth Venture teams and individuals who are working for the revival of the Tohoku area.


I recently went to the town of Tomioka of Fukushima prefecture where it became an evacuation zone two and a half years ago when the nuclear power plant exploded. Despite the months passed, there still is debris left and the town has not changed since the tragedy.

I would like to introduce Ayaka Kanagawa, one of our Tohoku Youth Venturers who joined our community in June 2013. Her project is for people who are evacuating to Hokkaido from Fukushima. She has made a warm and open community for new coming families who still experience fear and memories of the tragedy.




Hello everyone. I am Ayaka Kanagawa and I am a junior at Tenshi University in Hokkaido, studying dietetics.

I visited the affected area for the first time in March of 2012.

I visited Kamaishi of Iwate prefecture and witnessed the terrifying scars of the disaster. At the destructed town, I saw debris everywhere and temporary houses that look all the same.

But there was more to this town. Warm-hearted people and the beautiful nature of Kamaishi fascinated me more than anything. Since then I have visited Kamaishi five times.

I became tightly connected with the people there and realized that Kamaishi is not just an “affected area” but there are many remarkable things about Kamaishi such as its resilient nature, people, and local dishes.


I visited the area that was hit hard by the disaster and realized that the recovery is extremely slow unlike what we hear from the mass media. The experience motivated me to do something about it. I decided to offer help to the people from the area.

When I went back to Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, I was informed that there are 3000 people who are evacuating from Fukushima, where the nuclear power plant exploded. That was when I realized that the effect of the disaster is not only present in the affected area but also in remote areas such as Hokkaido.

“I can support Tohoku even from Hokkaido.”

I want those people, who chose Hokkaido to start a new living, to feel comfortable in their new home of Hokkaido. I wish that they can root in Hokkaido as their second home where they can feel relieved and safe.


This is how I started to do activities such as teaching at cooking events, inviting participants from Fukushima and Hokkaido.

I also organize events where people can experience farming. I invite evacuees, who are very sensitive toward food, to the farm where they get to experience farming and produce food for themselves. Both adults and children get to do farming on the field and cook lunch after the work is done.

Through this program, they get to experience the feeling of eating safely with their five senses and with their heart.

This year we also have participants of families from Hokkaido as well as student volunteers from my school, unlike last year when we only had participants who were evacuees.

I will continue to run this program hoping they will have more and more happy days in Hokkaido as their new home.





Hope you enjoyed the report from Ayaka. Ashoka Japan will continue to support youth like her around Japan who has an empathetic motivation to revitalize the Tohoku area. Your kind support and donations enable them to keep moving forward for the future of the Tohoku, and thus Japan. Thank you for reading our report and please look forward to hear more about our Youth Venturers’ activities.



Hiroaki Yabe






current Tomioka station
current Tomioka station
making lunch with the families
making lunch with the families
participated families
participated families
Jun 14, 2013

Tohoku Youth Venture Panel Presentation Spring '13

Panel presentation
Panel presentation

Dear GlobalGivers,

Thank you always for your kind support and donations to the Tohoku Youth Venture program by Ashok Japan. We have received 66 donations in a total of $13,035 US dollars. We would like to present our recent work with the venturers in Japan.

On April 20th 2013, Ashoka Japan held the Tohoku Youth Venture Panel Presentation at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo. Since 2011, Ashoka Japan has been supporting the youth generation through the “Youth Venture” program by encouraging and enabling young adults to take action on their lives. In the spring of 2012, Ashoka proceeded to launch the “Tohoku Youth Venture”, a five year program which aims to support young people working to contribute to the recovery of Tohoku.

The Youth Venture Panel Presentation is not a contest where we choose winners and losers; instead, the purpose of this event is to examine the participants’ degree of passion towards their project as well as the feasibility of their plans. On April 20th, a total of six groups took part. Of the six teams, two qualified to become Tohoku Youth Venturers. We would like to introduce each venturers we chose.

Takuya, 20, realized there was lack of playgrounds for children in the areas of Tohoku affected by the disaster after visiting Tohoku couple times though tours that he planned and conducted on his own. Takuya plans to run bus tours connecting Tohoku and Kansai in order to create opportunities for Tohoku children to have a fun time away in Kansai. Takuya wishes to share his own experience of encountering new values and challenges through meeting and cooperating with people of his generation.

Yuuri, 17, organizes a group of students in her hometown, Minami Sanriku, to do story telling in English. Yuuri hopes that this group will act as a stepping stone for the young people to join local activities, think and express their opinions, and contribute to reconstruction. Although she had always been waiting for such opportunities, Yuuri realized that such opportunities would never come unless she sought them out for herself. As a youth venturer, she will bring such opportunities to others.

Following the presentations, the panelists provided the presenters with encouraging comments. Mr. Kawazoe (Ashoka Fellow, Representative Director of CarePro) pointed out that the goal is not to become a venturer, but instead accurately to communicate to others about our ideas in order to gain support. Ms. Mukaida (Representative of Coffret Project) remarked that even if our ideas are met with disapproval from adults, we should always take challenges in stride and let nothing stop us from achieving our goals and passion.

Ashoka Japan will continue to provide a network to support young entrepreneurs. Your support enables those future changemakers to do what they believe in. Thank you again for your support and please look forward to hear more about our work with aspiring young generations in Japan. 

Takuya's activity
Yuuri's activity
Mar 28, 2013

Three-Day College; Shaping the Future

Daichi Yano - Tohoku Youth Venturer
Daichi Yano - Tohoku Youth Venturer

Dear GlobalGivers,

Thank you for all your support to our Tohoku Youth Venture program initiated by Ashoka Japan. We have received 61 donations in a total of $12,660.12 U.S. dollars.

We would like to introduce to you one of the youth initiatives that was launched by the generous support.

Daichi Yano, one of the Youth Venturers, started Three-Day College; Shaping the Future, events to connect the local kids in the disaster-stricken area and college students from all over Japan. The first event was organized from March 1st to the 3rd 2013 in Kesennuma. 

I moved to Kesennuma, a disaster-stricken area, after March 11th 2011 taking a leave from college. Since then I have been engaged in tutoring local children in the area. What I keenly felt which tutoring was that those local kids do not have a chance to meet with college students therefore it is a challenge for them to envision their life after highschool. So I decided to create an opportunity to gather college students, professional adults and local kids together. The first three-day summit happened  from March 1-3, 2012. The unexpected result was the 43 college students and 3 professional adults who attended as mentors were deeply inspired and empowered not only the local high school kids. The encounter gave them a chance to be self-reflective and think about the future of the area and its residents and how they could contribute.

Day One

Lecture by President of Hotel Boyo (35 attendees).

Since some of the college students had never visited Tohoku before, we had the president of a local hotel tell stories of what it was like at the time of the disaster and discuss other topics regarding Kesennuma. The goal here was to familiarize them with Kesennuma so that they could more easily talk to the high school students the following day. 


Day Two

Lecture and discussion session led by college students who were originally from Kesennuma and the other college students on the topic, “What does Kesennuma mean to you?”

I hoped that listening to their Senpais (a mentor or a senior) would spark some interest and questions on various topics in the local high school students. By presenting how college students see Kesennuma, it was an opportunity for the high school students to turn their eyes towards Kesennuma.

Instead of having the college students present their thoughts to the high school students, they discussed topics that the high school students were interested in. Each high school student wrote down their questions, what they discussed and their thoughts on vellum paper. This made it easier for the next student to come up and ask their question and it also helped the college students to come up with relevant topics.


Day Three

On the last and final day, I hoped to get the college students to say that they like Kesennuma, that they would want to come back and by doing so, to create repeat participants for future sessions of “Kesennuma College: Shaping the Future” In addition, my hope was for the college students to maintain contact with each other even after they returned to their respective colleges and to start their own activities for Kesennuma.

As for South Kesennuma, one of the college students was originally from there so we asked her to walk around and see the disaster area for him/herself while recounting the hotel president’s story from the first day. We also walked up Mount Amba, from where we can see a beautiful view as well as the recovery situation of the whole of Kesennuma City, and discussed the future.

Here are some of the voices of the high school students who participated in the program:

“I will try doing first instead of just wondering whether I can or can’t.”

“It helped me in thinking about ‘becoming proactive in the recovery of Kesennuma.’”

“It changed my preconceptions of ‘college students’ and ‘college life.’”

“Until now, I’ve been very indecisive about what I want to be and what I want to do.  But listening to these stories made me realize that what is important is to find something [eventually?] and that I don’t have to rush right now.”


From the college participants:

“If there is another one, I’d like to attend.  There were a lot of things I came to realize through talking to the high school students.”

“I learned a little bit about Kesennuma. I’d like to come to Kesennuma again.”


What left an impression on me during the planning and execution of this project was the growth of the college participants.The college students make the high school students of the disaster areas and the disaster areas make the college students. 

In this way, future sessions of “Kesennuma College: Shaping the Future” can help to energize high school students who already have a high sense of awareness on social issues living in an abnormal environment, namely, a disaster area, as well as to connect college students from all over the country to build further opportunities.

Day 1
Day 1
Day Two
Day Two
Day Three
Day Three
Day Three
Day Three

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Shibuya- ku, Tokyo, Japan

Project Leader

Nana Watanabe

Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Japan

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