Overview:During the past three months, our work focused on three dimensions : (1) creating a network of partners committed to the project, in order to build local capacity, and (2) facilitating academic research that utilizes raw material received during previous month and (3) ensuring full transition between Project Directors.
(1) Creating a network of partners committed to the project, in order to build local capacity.During the past three months, VOT presented its work on varioud occasions : in an academic conference in Nagasaki (May 25), at the University of Tohoku (June 9, infront of 60 researchers), in Musashino Art University (June 23, infront of 45 students) and at Meiji Gakuin University (July 30, infront of 14 researchers);
In addition, our team have presentated VOT related work in a board meeting of Ohneru project, a unique aid organization working in Tohoku area and in the mediatheque, together with "Center for Remembering 3/11".On May 29th, Ms. Atsuko Fish from the "Fish Foundation" visited the local VOT archive in Ishinomaki, and heard from the museum manager about feedback recieved from visitors to the archive.
On July 10th, Mr. Andy Anderson from the "Tyler Anderson Fund" visited the local VOT archive in Ishinomaki. (2) Facilitating academic research that utilizes VOT raw material.A research group composed of seven Japanese researchers in the mental-care field has been consolidated over raw material received from VOT interviews. The group will meet on a regular basis and further develop theoretical knowledge out of the data collected. (3) Ensuring full transition between Project Directors. In the past two months, VOT has been seeing a transition between project directors : time was spend on trainning the new director with the "life-story interview" technique, introducing contacts, editing videos, and much more. In the past week, interviews were re-started and 3 new interviews were done in Ishinomaki, Miyagi perfecture.In the past month, our team has edited 5 videos.We expect project outcome will significantly grow in the next three months.
Voices of Tohoku ReportFebruary-March-April 2014Overview:Potential growth worldwideThe past three months have shown positive development in the Voices of Tohoku program, and we have strengthened our local connections in the working communities, while expanding to create a sustainable program. A 100-page official Voices of Tohoku book has also been completed for distribution. The Ishinomaki community archive was opened in April, and we have received very positive feedback from local visitors to the archive. The project has expanded to Niigata prefecture, where many Fukushima evacuees currently live, and the project has just kicked off in Kesennuma City. Academically, the project has been subject of various conferences and symposiums in universities around Japan. We have also continued our process of interviewing, and have collected an additional 25 interviews for the archive. On March 7, a 3rd year event to commemorate the voices was organized in Tokyo, and guests such as Mr. Fujisaki, the former Japanese Ambassador to the United States was invited to talk about the project. The Voices of Tohoku website has been launched (http://voicesoftohoku.org), and selected videos are available with English subtitles for a worldwide audience. The past three months have emphasized the importance of establishing a sustainable archive that would provide a cultural and educational platform for these voices to be heard around Japan and worldwide.Communities:Futaba Machi of Fukushima – This town received an evacuation order from the government after the radiation leak at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant. All 7000 residents are scattered across Japan, in almost every prefecture. Interviews that were taken in this community are currently in the final stages of editing, and will be ready for distribution in the summer.Ishinomaki City- The Ishinomaki Newsée, a local history museum dedicated to the history of Ishinomaki, is a well-known tourist attraction located near the seaside of Ishinomaki City. The museum shows the 150-year history of Ishinomaki, as well as the records of the disaster, and both locals and outside tourists come to learn about the Ishinomaki community. In April, the Voices of Tohoku archive was officially opened in the museum, and there is currently a permanent exhibition that presents Voices of Tohoku interviews that were taken in Ishinomaki. We have received positive feedback since the opening, and have heard that locals and tourists come to watch the full 60-minute interviews everyday. According to the feedback, visitors would often talk amongst each other after watching the interviews, and the community archive is effectively a catalyst for communication between visitors. A further 15 interviews were done in this community, and the edited DVDs are ready for distribution this summer to the participants.Yamamoto Town- We are continuing to collect stories here, and we have received support and photos from the Yamamoto local government to use in the archive. The photos we have received were used in the Voices of Tohoku official book.Watari- We are continuing to collect stories from residents, and since the archive event in May, the level of awareness of the project has greatly increased. There is currently discussion to use the archive that is currently located in the Central Library of Watari Town for educational purposes at elementary schools in the area.Niigata-Niigata Prefecture is second to Fukushima in the number of evacuees from the radiation zone. Working with an NPO in Niigata that provides psychosocial support for evacuee families, we have started approaching these families for interviews. However, we acknowledge that the process is slower and more careful than other communities, because of the culturally sensitive situation for families in these areas.Kesennuma and Volunteers - A volunteer group working in Kesennuma heard about our project and asked for us to interview NPO workers. Believing that the voices of volunteers and supporters is also important, we have also started interviewing NPO leaders in Kesennuma through this volunteer group. 8 interviews have been taken already.Academic-Professor Ito Takehiko and Meiji Gakuin University Emeritus Professor Inoue Takayo, with Emeritus Professor Amia Lieblich of Hebrew University have launched a qualitative research project with the interviews. This research focuses on how survivors have overcome difficulties after the disaster, and hopes to propose a guideline for overcoming difficulties after large natural disasters. Since March, 4 presentations have been made on the Voices of Tohoku program in academic conferences. Further, a two-hour workshop about the project was conducted for University of Tokyo students and Harvard students visiting Japan in April. On May 24th and 25th, two symposiums will be held at the Conference for the Japanese Society of Transcultural Psychiatry in Nagasaki University. We believe these opportunities will further create a network of professionals that can benefit from the archives.In May, there was also a study session with a psychologist from the New Zealand Red Cross about the Great Eastern Japan Disaster and the Christchurch Earthquake. Three years after both disasters, the study session was an opportunity to share opinions and understanding of the importance of archiving voices.An interview-training program is currently in planning for the summer. We plan to bring Professor Amia Lieblich of Hebrew University to give an intensive 3-day workshop about the Voices of Tohoku interview method. The workshop will target local youth interested in volunteering for the project, as well as academic professionals and our staff. The aim will be to raise awareness of the quality of interviewing in the project, as well as to invite enthusiastic volunteers to help in the project.Awareness-On March 7, a 3rd year event to commemorate the voices was organized in at the Hilton Tokyo Hotel. Over 150 people came, and guests such as Mr. Fujisaki, the former Japanese Ambassador to the United States was invited to talk about the project. A short clip of one of the interviews was played, and we received much feedback from the guests. The official Voices of Tohoku book designed by Professor Lei-Mei Julia Chiu and students from Musashino Art University’s social design class was completed for the event on March 7. The 100-page book was shown to the guests. We are in the process of mass printing, so that we may distribute it widely to people interested and our participants.The Voices of Tohoku website (http://voicesoftohoku.org) was completed in March. With nearly 50 interviews, the website drew large interest in the areas we work in, and we saw a large increase in page views on the day of the disaster, confirming our belief that people are still very interested in the stories of the disaster. Very recently, we have received feedback that it is not viewable in the US, and we are currently working with web designers to solve the problem as soon as possible. IsraAID Programs in other countries have also shown interest in the Voices of Tohoku program, and there is currently discussion to use the archive as a tool to connect areas affected by natural disasters with the people in Tohoku. For example, there is discussion to screen these videos in the Philippines after the typhoon, so survivors of the typhoon may learn from the ways many in Tohoku overcame difficulties after the disaster. We welcome your ideas and support and look forward to further develop the Voices of Tohoku program.
During the last 3 months our work has focused on building a sustainable structure for the project that will allow us to run the archive project for years to come in existing and new communities. We are in the process of developing a website for Voices of Tohoku that will share full videos of our archive project online and to the world. Selected interviews will also have English translations, and will be used to raise awareness of this project and of the voices from Tohoku around the world. The website is planned to be completed by the end of February.
We have further continued our process of interviewing, and have collected over 40 interviews for the community archives, making stories of individuals heard, and preserved for the future.
We are organizing an event with a local museum in Ishinomaki that will exhibit the Voices of Tohoku archive in Ishinomaki. The event will be held in late March, and Japan’s national broadcasting channel, NHK, wishes to show the event on the news.
Futaba Machi of Fukushima – This town received an evacuation order from the government after the radiation leak at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant. All 7000 residents are scattered across Japan, in almost every prefecture. With young film artists from Futaba, we have established connections with the local government and NPOs working in Futaba. We plan to continue to increase interviews in this area, and to establish a stable archive that will be easily accessible to all of the evacuees from this area.
Osaka- We are continuing the archiving project with the evacuee mother group in Osaka with the help of local volunteers. Further, we have connected with an NPO that runs education programs for the elderly, who kindlly agreed to introduce us in their classes, and hopefully connect us to the 20 evacuee participants.
Kyoto- Since 2011, almost 700 families have evacuated to Kyoto. We have partnered with an NPO in Kyoto that supports these families to create a local archive for the evacuee community.
Ishinomaki City- The connection with the local newspaper has allowed us to continue our project in Ishinomaki. We have interviewed community leaders and influential figures in Ishinomaki, such as the man responsible for the Ganbaro Ishinomaki sign, now a very popular tourist attraction and symbol for relief in Ishinomaki. Andy and Jean Anderson from the Taylor Anderson Fund,, who are important figures in the relationship between the US and Ishinomaki, have also participated in this archive. The local museum that has decided to create the Voices of Tohoku archive in their center is planning an event with us in late-March for the opening of the archive. It will invite local elementary and junior high school students from Ishinomaki and these students will use the videos to learn about their community. This event will be covered on NHK World, one of the most well-known international news programs broadcasted from Japan.
Yamamoto Town- We are continuing to collect stories here, and we have received support and photos from the Yamamoto local government to use in the archive.
Watari- We are continuing to collect stories from residents, and since the archive event in May, the level of awareness of the project has greatly increased. We have distributed most interviews in DVD form to each participant from Watari. We have heard since then that participants are sharing DVDs with one another and learning about each other’s experiences.
Professor of Psychology Ito Takehiko of Wako University has announced that three students from the department of Psychology have decided to write their theses on the interviews and archiving methods of Voices of Tohoku.
Professor Ito Takehiko and Meiji Gakuin University Emeritus Professor Inoue Takayo, have started their research that will integrate the Voices of Tohoku archive, and have told us that they have received funding for this research. Professor Inoue Takayo has talked about the project in academic conferences around Japan twice, and is planning to speak about it again at a conference for psychological aid after the disaster in Kyoto Univeristy in March.
The official Voices of Tohoku book designed by Professor Lei-Mei Julia Chiu and students from Musashino Art University’s social design class is ready for printing, and will be ready by March 11, when we will distribute it to our close partners. It will include 5 interviews in text form from 3 of our communities, and also include over 100 photos of each of the community. This 100-page book will be distributed to each of our archives, and will make stories more accessible for people beyond video archiving. Public distribution of the books is still pending.
The Voices of Tohoku website, that is being developed with the students of Musashino Art University, will be completed by the end of the month. It will contain over 100 interviews and through JISP’s social media, it will be shared across the world. We have received initial interest from an archiving project in Paris interested in exhibiting this project in their center, and we will continue to look for opportunities to raise awareness of this project around the world.
During the last 3 months our work with new communities have generated more then 60 new interviews. Our scope of subjects have now expended into stories covering people who have evacuated from their community because of radiation concerns around the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. We are collecting more stories every week from the various communities we operate. Our volunteer interviewers and camera operator staff are working diligently to collect these stories and create a positive experience for the participants.
Futaba Machi of Fukushima – This town received an evacuation order from the government after the radiation leak at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant. All 7000 residents are scattered across Japan, in almost every prefecture. With the help of local volunteers we have gathered 15 stories as of now, and we are currently building an archive with the municipality to preserve the town’s history and memories for the next 50-80 years while this area remain vacant.
Osaka- We have connected with a support group of mothers from Tohoku, that decided to evacuate from their communities to Osaka to protect their children from the effects of radiation. The partners of most of these mothers remain in Tohoku for work, and the mothers are struggling to raise their child alone. With the help of local volunteers in Osaka, we are interviewing these mothers and creating an archive at their support center.
Kyoto- Since 2011, almost 700 families have evacuated to Kyoto. We have partnered with an NPO in Kyoto that supports these families to create an archive for these people. We visit Kyoto every month to collect interviews with cooperating locals.
Ishinomaki City- We have collected over 25 stories in Ishinomaki, and through partnership with the local newspaper and local archive museum, we have connections in various fields. As result, we have a close connection with government workers, volunteers, psychologists, fishermen, and other community groups. Our archive currently has a diverse range of experiences and stories that depict the disaster, and some of the most moving interviews come from this archive. We have partnered with a local archive museum and plan to exhibit these interviews here.
Watari Town- We are continuing to collect stories from residents, and since the archive event in May, the level of awareness of the project has greatly increased.
Wako University is integrating our videos as part of a discussion course about posttraumatic effects and growth, led by Professor of Psychology, Ito Takehiko.
Further, Prof. Ito Takehiko has collaborated with Meiji Gakuin University Emeritus Professor Inoue Takayo, to explore psychological research regarding posttraumatic effects in communities, using the archive.
Professor Lei-Mei Julia Chiu and students from Musashino Art University’s social design class have worked with us to create an official book about the Voices of Tohoku project. This image book will contain text versions of specific interviews, with an essay by Professor Ito and Professor Inoue. This will be distributed to our current communities, as well as new communities, and hopefully this book will inspire more communities and volunteers to join.
Furthermore, the student volunteers from Musashino Art University have been providing support for all aspects of design in VOT, such as improving our logo, building our website which is due at the end of the year, and documenting our work backstage.
In the next 3 month our website will go online, and will contain most of the interviews we have collected until now. The videos will have various tags, and can be searched via communities, occupations, etc.
The website development is a joint program with the students of Musashino Art University.
Voices of Tohoku
May 2013 – Aug 2013
The “Voices of Tohoku” project is currently expanding its reach into new communities and platforms.
We are continuing to interview on a regular basis. Our work has expanded into three new communities.
We are meeting affected community leaders across Japan to decide where to expand next.
A website is under development with the help of design students and volunteers.
Our academic advisors are working with us to prepare an archive catalogue for researchers. We are writing the program guidelines for a general book that will be distributed to communities interested in initiating the project.
After we distributed the personal copies to participants in Watari and Yamamoto we received great responses from people telling us they watched their own interview with their entire family, and it was a meaningful experience. Due to this we are getting new requests for interviews from these communities.
Web Site Development
-We are fortunate to cooperate with the
prestigious Musashino Art School in Tokyo.
Their students are working with us to develop
a video web site platform that will be the
main tool to raise awareness for Tohoku
outside of Japan.
Utilizing their amazing talents as designers,
we believe this will be a huge addition to
the project’s artistic value.
-Volunteers are helping us to catalogue and
translate interviews to be posted onto the
-Ishinomaki City – The community book is currently being printed. We finished designing it, and collecting messages for the book from local residents and the Vice Mayor. We are collecting interviews on a regular basis to establish a wide range of people from different aspects of this community.
-Watari – Interviews are conducted on a regular basis. The library has dedicated a corner to display the project.
-Yamamoto – We are establishing the project
into new areas of the town. We are planning
community events to raise awareness about the
Expansion of the Project
-Osaka- We started to interview members of a
group of evacuees from Fukushima. They are
happy to share their stories and see this as
an important opportunity to save a memory for
-Sendai- We started to interview residents in
temporary houses. In this community we are
cooperating with a professional Japanese
television director from NHK (a major Japanese television station).
-We are currently cataloging the material to
include metadata crucial for research
-With the help of our academic advisors we are
developing an assessment procedure to
evaluate the effects of the program on
-Japanese professors have notified us they applied for a Japanese government research grant to study the content of our interviews.
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