Today, we'd like to share a story out of many lives you have changed - through supporting our project.
Mr. Homma's story
Mr. Homma is a chairman of the neighborhood association of Kadonowaki. Great East Japan Earthquake on 11th March, 2011 changed the fate of the area. Kadonowaki, which is one of the most suffered areas and 400 people of 4000 dead or missing people in Ishinomaki city fall a sacrifice to the earthquake there. After the earthquake, some people were sacrificed to tsunami and some moved to temporary housing, and only 60 people (23 families) of 2000 people who had been a member of neighbor association of Kadonowaki remained there and the neighbor association had had to suspended activities. However, the activity ran with JEN leaded the association to start again.
He became connected to JEN in October 2012 when about a year and half had passed since the earthquake. At the time, JEN supported “Recovery Program for us” ran by junior high school students in Kadonowaki and looked for a place such as everything was washed away to make flowerpots. After that, Mr. Homma, had being worked for gathering 4 neighbor associations together as a member of “Maneki (Inviting) Community”, and JEN formed “Watering for Flower pots Committee” and moved forward the project with students, habitants and volunteers together. In April 2013, flowers bloomed beautifully with some messages of hope attached. Two years has passed since the earthquake and Mr. Homma said “I am finally ready to recover.” In August 2013, JEN supported the construction of community house, “Maneki House” as a center of interaction of people. Some events such as tea ceremony and exercise class for health are held on a regular basis. Also, festival to praise Jizo (guardian) which had been canceled because of the earthquake and former habitants who had moved to temporary housing came back to the town. Mr. Homma hopes that many people would come back to the town after the land readjustment even if it is only one person.
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Target Area Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages. Activities during October, November & December, 2013.
Community Building in Ishinomaki
[Children Learn Fishing]
JEN has been assisting efforts to care for emotional and spiritual needs of children. On October 20, JEN hosted "Furusato Kodomo College in Tanigawahama", an event to offer children in Ishinomaki an opportunity of experiencing fishery. Corporate volunteers and the fishermen from Tanigawahama Fisheries Cooperatives volunteered to help JEN.
Since the disaster, children have had fewer chances to go to the sea due to the traumatic experience of the disaster and evacuation life that forces them to live away from the sea. This event therefore is about getting the bearers of Ishinomaki's future to know Ishinomaki's good things and love Ishinomaki much more through hands-on experience.
On that day children experienced fishing, making mother shells to raise oysters and clearing scallop shells of substances sticking to the front of the shells along with the fishermen.
The fishermen who accepted the children looked very happy because the children's cheers filled Tanigawahama where the number of children has decreased.
[Imoni Party Help Sustain Community]
JEN is committed to helping develop mutual supportive relationships and self-sustaining communities by assisting activities that serves that purpose such as traditional customs.
In many parts of the Tohoku region from October to November, there is a custom of enjoying "imoni party" at outdoors such as river banks. Different from area to area as seasonings and gradients are, enjoying over a hot pot featuring taro is called "imoni party". The party usually takes place as an event to socialize with friends or people at work, making Tohoku's people feel that autumn would not be autumn without it as well as hanami party in spring.
On October 27, JEN helped the community association of the evacuees living in Nukaduka temporary housing complex host an imoni party. Not only joined the evacuees but people outside including those living in the neighborhood of the temporary housing and in other temporary housing complex, deepening ties among them.
A neighbor brought the evacuees some persimmons from his garden for present using a forklift truck. You can bet that continued efforts to develop people-to-people links such as hosting imoni party could establish mutual supportive relationships.
[Lantern Vigil to Commemorate 3,266 Victims]
With December 5, 2013 at 14:46 marking 1,000 days since the disaster broke out, citizen volunteers hosted "the Great Tohoku Earthquake Lantern Vigil to Commemorate the Anniversary of 1,000 Days." Many people gathered for the prayer vigil from all around the city of Ishinomaki.
This ceremony was run by a planning committee organized by citizens and some 70 volunteers. It's intended to commemorate victims together and determine to move forward together as we were kept alive and allowed to stay live.
First-year art club members at Ishinomaki High School developed the design of lantern layout in the shape of wave rings centering 3/11-shaped lanterns so that the people in Ishinomaki may pay more attention rather than 3/11 to the present and then the future just like wave rings ripple around
The chair of the planning committee said "We are going to host the ceremony at each junction to pray for those who were killed and to provide an opportunity of sharing the determination to restore Ishinomaki."
[The 4th "Come to Join Fishing Event"]
JEN continues supporting an event that invites people from across the country to come and enjoy the nature and fresh food of the Oshika peninsula so that disaster areas can boost their self-help efforts toward recovery.
Higashihama planning committee held the fourth "Come to Join Fishery Event" at Sudachihama on the Oshika Peninsula on December 1 with help from JEN.
Now that it was an oyster season, a lot of plans unique to the oyster season were worked out including touring oyster farms; experiencing oyster shelling; exchanging with oyster fishermen in Higashihama; feasting on all-oyster dishes.
Oysters are usually farmed for two years until they are ready to ship; in inshore farms with hardly waves during the first year and for the second year in offshore farms with restless waves. The participants visited both farms and hauled ropes of two-year-old oysters, harvesting large oysters.
After harvesting oysters, the participants experienced shelling oysters with the guidance of the people in Higashihama. We usually eat already-shelled oysters available at stores and so the participants seemed to have difficulties in the first-time experience of their shelling oysters. They were much surprised to hear that fishermen can shell 3-5 oysters per second.
By the time they finished shelling oysters, mothers in Higashihama had already prepared lunch, waiting for them to sit at the lunch table. The lunch was abundant in variety such as grilled oysters, rice assorted with blue mussels, miso soup with oysters and laver, fried oysters as well as steamed oysters or an hot pot of oysters using oysters shelled by the participants, proving to be luxurious all-oyster dishes.
The day went by surprisingly fast; before the participants say good-bye, each participant expressed their thanks or feedbacks to the people in Higashihama.
The Higahsihama planning committee intends to continue with a series of this event. So does JEN.
Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages. Activities during July, August & September, 2013.
At this time of the year, many volunteers, from students during their summer vacation to adults taking days off, visited Ishinomaki. JEN and volunteers have been supporting local people through various events and activities.
[To continue Traditional Local Festivals]
JEN and volunteers have been assisting to continue traditional local festivals.
On September 9, an autumn festival was held in Oginohama, Ishinomaki. Volunteers supported in carrying mikoshi (portable shrine). Oginohama’s festival is known for its mikoshi being paraded through Oginohama Cove on boat. They prepared for the festival from the day before.
On August 24, Jizo-ko festival was held at Kadonowakicho town, Ishinomaki city for the first time in three years which is to praise Jizo (small stone statues venerated as the guardian deity of local residents) for Jizo's good deeds. Volunteers from Aoyama Gakuin University sweated at preparing for the festival. On the same day, JEN donated Manekinoie House, a meeting place adaptable to other uses, to Maneki Community, a resident’s association to set up mainly by current residents after the disaster.
On July 31 and August 1 was held Ishinomaki Kawabiraki River Festival, a signature summer summer event of Ishinomaki. The festival has never been called off even after the disaster and helped lift citizens' spirits every year.
It was after three years' absence that Magobe rowboat race as well as a dance to celebrate good catch, the festival's main attractions, made a successful comeback.
Elementary school pupils’ yearly drum and fife band parade was also performed along shopping streets. Among participating elementary schools are those schools whose music instruments had been damaged by the disaster. JEN have provided new instruments for them in the collaboration with mudef.
The number of visitors to the festival for two days was said to be 169,000, attracting 20,000 more than last year. It was felt that Ishinomaki is gradually regaining what were all too real in the past, after seeing Magobe boat race reviving, the children's drum and fife band performing a parade and visitors happily smiling. Hoping to see many more visitors smiling, JEN will continue to work activities to enliven Ishinomaki.
[Blossoms in Ishinomaki]
JEN is assisting "Spread Flower Garden through Human Connection", a movement based on an idea of students at Kadonowaki Junior High School.
On July 24, students at Kadonowaki Junior High School volunteered to plant flowers.
On August 29, twenty-five students at Kansai Gakuin Senior High School volunteered to help us weed the flower garden. They said that they wanted to come here in the post-disaster period, but it was impossible; they want to help with whatever they still can do.
[Personal Computer Class at Town on the Sea]
In response to resident’s requirements, JEN has opened “Personal Computer class for the Use of ICT as Reconstruction Support” side by side with Reconstruction University and BHN Association. Residents are learning such as the basics of Word and Excel, how to use Facebook. They are learning toward their goals, to make use of the PC skills for their business and to get in touch with volunteers or supporters who came to help them after the disaster.
[The 3rd “Come to Join Fishing Event!”]
On August 3-4, the third “Come to Join Fishing Event!” was held at Higashihama on the Oshika Peninsula which was planned by an executive committee organized by local resident volunteers. This year’s program, the third, featured a lot of hands-on experience such as gill net fishing, cooking, get-together, beach cleanup, study tour of aquaculture facility and so on. "'When I came to Ishinomaki two years ago, an improbable sight was outspread before me. But today, as a fan of Higashihama, I was really glad to be able to get on with people here and have such a wonderful time.', ' Learning about fishery, I was able to have an unique experience of mixing with people in the community.'" As participants said, expressing a feeling of enjoyment.
[F-1 Reconstruction Gourmet Food Contest held in Oshika Noren Restaurant District]
On July 21, F-1 Reconstruction Gourmet Food Contest (delicious, inexpensive, local food competition to promote reconstruction) took place at Oshika Noren Restaurant District in Aukawa on the finger of the Oshika Peninsula, with twelve reconstruction-gourmet-food stalls from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures standing side by side.
This year’s contest, the third in the series, took place for the first time at Oshika Noren Restaurant District that JEN has supported in setting up. Four food items from Ishinomaki joined the contest, each one is made of Ishinomaki’s specialty ingredients which enhanced the flavor! The Grand Prix went to Moby dog from Oshika Noren Restaurant District! They say Moby dog enjoyed a runaway popularity, with the advantage for the contest to be held at home.
Hoping that every restaurant district uses this opportunity to lift the spirit of its community including Oshika Noren Restaurant District, JEN will continue to support the contest.
[Radio Talk Show “Skidatsucha Ishinomaki by JEN”]
A radio program for Ishinomaki reconstruction, "Skidatsucha Ishinomaki by JEN” (I love Ishinomkai; Sponsored by JEN.)" via Ishinomaki Radio Station, began on July5. This program covers what's nice about Ishinomaki, what goes into what a gallery of fascinating people in Ishinomaki works on and what's going on in Ishinomaki now being on the road to reconstruction. The title for this program, "Skidatsucha Ishinomkai by JEN ", reflects JEN's wish to 'get many more people loving Ishinomaki and make life in Ishinomki more exciting. JEN is committed to continuing efforts to produce such a program that listeners begin to love Ishinmaki and can share a positive frame of mind. The program goes out live every Friday from 0:30 p.m. for thirty minutes. Listen to it! (Japanese only)
[Ajishirahama Bathing Beach to Open]
On July 19, Ajishirahama bathing beach has opened. Both on July 6 and 7, JEN Tohoku reconstruction assistance volunteers worked on cleaning up Ajishirahama bathing each and weeding mountain trails together with local residents. Having done the day’s work, the volunteers had a get-to-know-you party with islanders at Gatsukou of Ajishima Island. Island life, marine products and this island’s future the volunteers heard from and talked with the islanders about. Volunteer activities in Ajishima Island have just begun. JEN believes that it’s necessary to look for a better future of the island, through deepening dialogues with islanders, continued activities there.
Relief & Re-establishment for those affected by the Great Eastern Earthquake. Target Area Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages. Activities during Apr, May & June, 2013.
[Hula Dancing Classes for Evacuees]
Now, more than two years after the disaster, community rebuilding in Ishinomaki is more important than ever. JEN supports opportunities for the residents of Ishinomaki to come together and through group activities, begin the recovery process. For two days at the end of May, evacuees living in temporary housing complexes had the opportunity to attend a hula dance class. Sixteen evacuees attended the event, among them a 92-year-old woman. Although it was difficult for the elderly attendees to move their hips and legs, they still managed to wave their arms and hands with a smile. With both hair accessories and hula skirts on, the participants looked like they were in Hawaii. After the class, the participants came up and thanked JEN for the opportunity to exercise together saying, “I really enjoyed getting exercise, it has been a long time since I have been able to. Come back soon.” JEN will continue to work on community assistance like this. Your support would be much appreciated.
On May 4th, JEN helped put together an event in support of the women in Ishinomaki. Eleven organizations from around the area displayed their handcrafts, exhibiting an eclectic mix of bags, jewelry, and other handmade goods. The event was very well attended with over 200 people, from both within Ishinomaki and outside, in awe of the “eye-candy” shopping, leaving them in a dilemma of which items to purchase. Guests were very interested in how the goods were made, creating new relationships between local merchants and visitors. The event interactively engaged participants, with stations for children to make their own bags and weaving tables for guests to make coasters. The next event is expected to happen October of this year, with plans to expand and have even more peer-to-peer exchanges. After the event, the program coordinator received responses from guests expressing interest in selling their own goods that they’ve since been inspired to make. JEN is dedicated to supporting the women of Ishinomaki, if you are interested in participating or learning more, please contact our Ishinomaki field office.
In May the residents of Ishinomaki enjoyed watching the 13,000 tulips planted last October, bloom, adding color and life to the city. The local Kamikama neighborhood association hosted a potluck for local residents to converse and admire the flowers together. Residents noted that before for tulips, the town really lacked feelings of life. Without any flowers and plants, the city lacked a sense the seasons and time of year. The plants not only add beauty to the city, but also help generate community-bonding events such as the hanami flower-viewing picnic. Despite the previous concerns of ruined soil as a result of the tsunami, the flowers are flourishing under Ishinomaki’s sun. Then on June 9th, volunteers worked to plow up the old bulbs and plant 13,000 new ones for the upcoming year. The bulbs that were plowed out were kept carefully in a safe place until the planting season next fall. About fifty volunteers joined the work, including leaders of the town’s association, townspeople, and people from outside the town. Although it was a hard task in the strong sunshine, one of the volunteers from outside Ishinomaki said to us, “I had an opportunity to work with people in Ishinomaki while hearing their stories and exercising, so I had a great day.”
JEN works on support programs to encourage community activities, promote restoration of farm lands, and so on. In doing so, JEN continues implementing support programs so that many people can associate with others and join together in recovering disaster-stricken areas.
ProjectRelief & Re-establishment for those affected by the Great Eastern Earthquake. Target AreaMiyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki City and nearby villages.Activities during Jan, Feb & Mar, 2013.On March 11, memorial ceremonies for all the disaster dead sponsored by local governments or temples were held across disaster afflicted areas. "Prayer Balloon", a memorial service, was held at Fuseiji temple in Kama district, located at the west end of Ishinomaki and in the north part of Ishinomaki Kougyou port.Those gathered said their prayers watching balloons rising up into the sky. Many of them seemed to have been reunited with each other after a long interval. Kama district has two sub districts; Shimo-Kama and Kami-Kama. Nakayashiki area in Kami-Kama is where JEN has worked on serving Soup Kitchen for the people evacuated in their own half damaged house during the emergency phase, after that, setting up and running a community cafe ever since to establish the good friendship in cooperation with many local people and volunteers.
It was Kami-Kama Recovery Council where neighborhood associations, local government authorities and consultants work out a recovery plan together that was established last fall.
Issues such as how to readjust land have been under discussion. JEN has been supporting the district's efforts in various ways.JEN is committed to continuing to encourage local people to take the initiative in developing their own area just as last fall's creation of a flowerbed.[Community Reconstruction:Volunteer activities]This year's first volunteering!
~ From Abroard ~
On January 12, 2013, JEN Tohoku (located in Ishinomaki City) carried out this year's first volunteer activity. This time, we had as many as thirty-seven volunteers including students at the Harvard business school and individuals.Volunteers cleaned side ditches next to the greenhouses. There still remained sludge in the bottom of the side ditches. These greenhouses were once fully-destroyed by the tsunami, but the farmer who owns them reconstructed at the same place last autumn after working on the rented land in a different area. He says he is going to grow cucumbers in the greenhouses from this spring.After working and sweating together, what was waiting for them was rice cake making party. Students got excited at their first-time mochi pounding. Fishermen from Higashihama in the Oshika peninsula, who are also victims of the disaster, joined to serve them their speciality: Oyster Soup, and so volunteers had a party time socializing with local farmers, fishermen, and JEN staff members.JEN will continue to stay in exchange projects that provide both disaster victims and volunteers opportunities to interact each other, accepting volunteers in 2013. ~ From High School in Tokyo ~On January 13 and 14, "the Ishinimaki-Nichi-Nichi Shinbun's cup soccer event for boys and girls from the primery school, co-hosted by Meiji University affiliated Meiji High as part of its centennial events" took place.Fourteen teams from around the city of Ishinomaki took part in the two-day event. This was the final event for sixth-year students. JEN worked on preparing for the event and keeping it running smoothly along with Ishinomaki Nichi Nichi Shinbun, Meiji High School and the Ishinomaki Football Association that organized the event.Meiji High School soccer club members volunteered to run the whole event serving as referees, time keepers, scores and so forth. And students other than the members of the soccer club volunteered to cook "Imoni", a famous local specialty of Miyagi Prefecture---a hot-broth, contains potato, vegetables and meat---being guided by JEN staff members. That is not only entertaining participants, but also a drill in preparing meals outdoors allowing for a possible disaster.One of students in the second year said "I'm looking forward to the next time. I want to keep up the activity.", showing a willingness to continue the activity.Meiji University affiliated Meiji High School is going to co-host the event over the next five years. JEN continues to work on a variety of exchange events, strengthening the collaboration with organizations and enterprises at home and abroad.
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