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.
February – May 2013
After the interviewers were trained, an IsraAID project coordinator scheduled interviews. Local community leaders started conducting interviews first with top ranking officials in the local municipality and then with other local groups and individuals. By doing so, IsraAID was able to document a wide perspective of the community story.
While interviews were only administered to those who wished to share their story, we were able to gather valuable stories from interesting people such as teachers who ran the evacuation shelters, firemen who had saved lives, residents of the temporary houses, and people who had lived in the most affected areas.
Each interviewee was required to sign a release form, in which he /she could choose whether they would like to "share their story with the world", or keep it within the local community. Surprisingly, about 95% of the participants agreed to share their testimony with the public.
As of late May 2013, IsraAID has gathered over 110, 60-90 min testimonies from the towns of Watari and Yamamoto in Miyagi prefecture, and the collection is one of the largest video documentations related to the 2011 Tohoku disaster.
This large number of stories was collected mostly because of IsraAId's strong trust with the local communities. We have received full support from local municipality and our work has gained a positive momentum in the community. Through word of mouth, we were able to find more and more people willing to share their stories.
Personal: Each person interviewed received a specially packaged DVD containing the full contents of their interview and a community book provided by Hewlett Packard (HP). The DVD booklet can be passed down generations, and especially for the elderly, a hard copy of their story serves to preserve their memories.
Community: IsraAID launched the first community archives in Watari and Yamamoto on April 2013.
During the opening ceremony, about 120 participants including the mayor, communitiy leaders and temporary housing residents who were interviewed participated (see attached article).
Each archive includes all the testimonies from the community, as well as the community book, and will be located in the community centers.
So that the local community and schools can use this package for memorial and educational purposes, we have worked to make it as openly public as possible. In Watari, the archive has been given a special section in the central town library, where anyone can come and watch the stories.
National and international Awareness:
To raise awareness of this project, on March 8th 2013, IsraAID conducted two big events at Hilton Tokyo.
The first was an academic event hosted by Prof.Amia Lieblich with professors from Japanese Universities (University of Tokyo, Meiji Gakuin University, Kyoto University, etc.). In this event we discussed the possibilities of research based on the testimonies from Tohoku and presented samples of interviews.
The second was an awareness event under the title "Voices of Tohoku" in which we presented the project, as a whole including few testimonies and the community books. The event received large media coverage and the guests included 30 leaders from Tohoku including the mayor of Watari, Former Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Fujisaki Ichiro, and representatives of NPOs working in Tohoku.
Some of the interviews are also in the process of being translated into English, so the stories can be viewed and understood by people worldwide.
Further, so these stories can benefit the future of Japan, we are currently in the process of digitally archiving these videos in various digital archives, including the “Hinagiku”, the Great East Japan Earthquake archive owned by the National Diet Library of Japan. In the archiving process, interviews will be transcribed, translated, subtitled, based on each archives’ needs. In the future, researchers will be able to access these archives to use the videos for qualitative research into the disaster. These archives will provide a sustainable framework that will allow this project to expand in the future as the diversity of the voices grows.
Since the launching of the “Voices of Tohoku” project in early September 2012, the scale of the project has grown dramatically and awareness of the project has further increased interest in the Tohoku region and in the academic communities around Japan. This increase in interest has allowed IsraAID to partner with academic institutions such as Meiji Gakuin University and local NPOs. Additionally, we have been able to create trust in other communities, providing IsraAID with the opportunity to expand the program into additional towns in Tohoku and within the towns we currently operate in. IsraAID believes that this project has a potential for further growth both on the local and national aspects.
Future plans for 2013:
Background of the Project
On March 11th 2011, Japan was hit by one of the most powerful earthquakes (9.0 Richter scale) ever recorded in history. Following the earthquake, Tsunami waves over 40.5 meters high (133ft) devastated Japan's eastern coast, damaging more than 500,000 buildings, and leaving 21,000 dead and 250,000 homeless in its wake.
For the survivors of this tragedy, life will never be the same. Seeing homes and livelihood completely destroyed, and losing friends and loved ones in front of their very eyes, the survivors of the Tsunami experienced a horrific event that that shook the foundations of their existence. Even from the beginning of IsraAID's mission to Japan, we found that the survivors felt a strong need to share stories of their experiences and events. Reliving the effect of the tragedy is challenging, and it seems the weight of the experience and trauma was so heavy for the survivors that they felt a need to tell someone about it, or to 'let it out'. IsraAID believes that creating a space and platform for people to share their personal experiences is a fundamental part of the healing process of these survivors. In addition to its therapeutic importance, documentation of these stories preserves the collective memory of the community that was changed in the disaster.
In early September, IsraAID conducted a seminar for Japanese professors from various Universities and institutions (Tokyo University, Meiji Gakuin University, Akita, Dipex, World Health Organization). In this seminar, the main focus was on interviewing theory—how to approach interviewees and speak to them in effective ways. This seminar was conducted by Professor Amia Lieblich, an oral history expert who has conducted interviews for personal archive projects with Holocaust survivors, Tibetan refugees in India and others. After the seminar, the program moved to Tohoku, where 20 community leaders from Yamamoto-Cho, Watari-Cho and Sendai went through 5-day extensive interview training. During these five days, the group of interviewers learned video interviewing techniques and conducted mock interviews to prepare them for real interviews. During this time, photographer Alex Levac arrived for two weeks and with the help of local municipality and community leaders, gathered photos of places and activities that represent the spirit of the towns of Watari and Yamamoto.
October 2012 – March 2013
After the interviewers were trained, an IsraAID project coordinator made a schedule for interviews. Local community leaders started conducting interviews first with top ranking officials in local municipality and then with other local groups and documented a wide perspective of the community story. While interviews were only administered to those who wished to share their story, we were able to gather valuable stories from interesting people such as teachers who ran the evacuation shelters, firemen who had saved lives, and people who had lived in the most affected areas. Each interviewee was required to sign a release form that gives them the option to either allow IsraAID to use all of the materials freely or to limit the use of their personal testimony. Roughly 95% of participants agreed for their testimony to be open to the public. As of February 2013, IsraAID has gathered over 75, 60-90 min testimonies from the towns of Watari and Yamamoto, which currently is considered among the largest video documentation made to date in Tohoku. This large number of interviews was made do to IsraAId strong trust with the local communities, We received full support from local municipality and our work has gained a positive momentum in the community.
On March 8th 2013 we will hold an academic event for professors from various Japanese Universities on Oral History Research based on the stories from Tohoku.
Also we will launch our community books and honor our local partners at a ceremony.
Following we will begin delivering the participants from Tohoku a package that will include each personal interview on DVD along side with the community book.
In addition we will launch local archives in the Towns of Watari and Yamamoto so that residents will have access to the videos produced by Voices of Tohoku project.
The local municipality will copy our digital files so that data will remain stored for the future.
Local Municipality will also hold a screening event for the local residents.
Since the start of the “Voices of Tohoku” project in early September 2012, the scale of the project has grown dramatically and awareness of the project has further increased interest in the Tohoku region and in the academic communities around Japan, and it allowed IsraAID to partner with academic institutions such as Meiji Gakuin and University of Tokyo and others so to expand the program into additional towns and within the towns we currently work.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.