Dec 5, 2018

Community Can Walk on Its Own Foot Now

Waiwai Hiroba Flier
Waiwai Hiroba Flier

Waiwai Hiroba events in Mashiki-machi, Kumamoto Prefecture, is really growing popular. A large number of people come to attend events, and this is greatly owing to valuable supports from GlobalGiving (GG), which provided financial aid to them via DSIA in cooperation with Kamaishi Kitchen Car Team.

DSIA started supporting a very tiny gathering of people, especially young entrepreneurs to hold an even in Dec. 17, 2017. They very much felt needs for building up Mashiki-machi Community, since many people were thinking of finding jobs in Kumamoto City and leaving the community. Young entrepreneurs have established small events four times with the funding of Kamaishi City and diverse other organizations, but when Revival Mashiki was established, GG came to support their Waiwai Hiroba (Chatting Place), successfully having about 200 participants. Then, it was considered a big success to initiate community building. A real big success came when Revival Mashiki organized the Summer Bon Festival not only to commemorate the completion of Yasunaga Shrine repairs, but also to restart the Summer Bon Festival which had not been organized even one year before the Kumamoto Earthquake. This means that the community relations among people had disintegrated even before the Earthquake. However, the Revival Mashiki succeeded to obtain collaboration from the Mashiki-machi government and mobilized NGOs, eleven companies, Mashiki Chamber of Commerce, and Mashiki Education Committee. The Project Committee for the Summer Festival succeeded to mobilize the whole township.

With such excellent community relations developed, Revival Mashiki organized another Waiwai Hiroba on September 9, 2018, for celebrating the Old People’s Day. They had as many as 390 people participating to events, radically increasing the interests of people in the local community in contrast to December 2017. Events organized were: free Japanese tea and cake for 400 people; free lesson on bottle flower arrangement; free performances by an ukulele artist; playing with a decorated horse, a historical ritual at the Fujisaki Shrine Festival performed for more than 1,000 years; ten food booths by local shops, whose sales were donated to the reconstruction of Yasunaga Shrine; and a donation box to contribute to the victims of Hokkaido Tanshin Earthquake.

Another even was organized on October 28 as an extended version of Waiwai Hiroba, celebrating the new establishment of fashionable Restaurant Yamamotoya as well as offering the Halloween Party for children (Picture 1). Revival Mashiki announced to have children coming with Halloween costumes, who also performed on the stage (Picture 2). They also gave away Trick Or Treat presents to 400 children (Picture 3). A few adults wore animal costumes to entertain children (Picture 4). Besides, to make the occasion much more joyous, they also had the participation of comedians and comedy band, called Fuzaketa (Comical) Band, to fit to Halloween mood (Picture 5). They even had a cutting of a huge tuna fish inside Yamamotoya Restaurant, being sold 200 yen per pack, which is a delicacy in Japan. Six local shops also opened their food booth, and had a donation box to the Hokkaido Tanshin Earthquake as usual.

Events offered were just unusual for this small suburban town, even for Kumamoto City. It was just like going to Disney Land in Tokyo. It was amazing that Revival Mashiki could mobilize the cooperation and participation of this many people to make the Mashiki Community lively. It attracted 455 participants, the highest number ever achieved other than the Summer Bon Festival. But children are the ones who really enjoyed the most, which warmed many people’s heart. GG’s support via DSIA was really fruitful and resulted in rebuilding the beginning of highly interactive, dynamic and warm community in Mashiki-machi, which becomes an indispensable source of energy for rebuilding the disaster-stricken area and economic activities. DSIA thinks that it had finished its role as a rebuilder of the community, and the Mashiki-machi is at the stage of standing on its own foot by themselves. They now have enough local participants and donors. DSIA hopes to come there several years later to see how this community movement blooms. DSIA expresses heartful and deep appreciation to those who have donated to this cause through GlobalGiving, needless to say about our deep appreciation to GlobalGiving itself.

Children with Halloween Costume on Stage
Children with Halloween Costume on Stage
Trick Or Treat Presents
Trick Or Treat Presents
Waring Animal Costumes
Waring Animal Costumes
Fuzaketa (Comical) Band,
Fuzaketa (Comical) Band,

Links:

Sep 13, 2018

Move to Another Temporary House Again?

Don't Look at Me! I am busy playing.
Don't Look at Me! I am busy playing.

The Shopping Arcade where Kirarin Kids (KK) is presently located will be sold to private owners by Rikuzen Takata City in October 2018, and the General Incorporated Association Takata Collect Town will be established to manage the Arcade. With this change, KK needs to start paying the room rental fee of about \80,000 per month from October, while they simply pay \20,000 per month for the security system presently. With the same security system kept, it amounts to about \100,000 per month. A new place KK hopes to move in has not started even construction, and has to move to another temporary place, since they cannot afford to make this huge monthly payment.

When the East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami took place, KK moved to the emergency shelter in the library of a junior high school, where it opened a place for parents and children to play and interact. Then, they moved to another temporary space, right next to a restaurant. Finally, they settled in the present temporary Shopping Arcade. Since this transition itself was really difficult, KK felt quite comfortable at the Arcade. However, KK now needs to find another place to move temporarily, since the main place KK wishes to move has not even started the construction. How many months or years will the construction of the new place take to be completed? How much does KK need to pay for housing at this transition stage? Can KK afford to pay \100,000 a month in the present Shopping Arcade? Besides, when KK moves out of the place, it has to restore the place as it was before. Installing necessary facilities in the new place also requires KK a fairly big sum of money. Preparing for the new place, KK would like to increase its staffs, for which training has to be started now. Its payment is not fixed by month or hour. By sharing the same philosophy, staffs split a subsidized amount among several people. In a sense, what sustains KK’s operation is not monetary incentive, but rather its philosophy to contribute to their own community for a long-term. In order not to lower the quality of childcare, KK hopes to start its training of new staffs as early as possible.

Worries and problems are mounting, tormenting KK continuously. However, they just have to continue operating creatively and dynamically. On June 3, they had the 6th Anniversary of the Arcade, which will be the last one, since it comes under a new management. KK offered a ring-throwing game, and also made KK’s facilities available to other participants. A junior high school band came in the morning and attracted many people to come to the Anniversary.

On July 14 (Sat.), a well-known KK’s self-initiated event, “Enjoying a Cool Evening (Yusuzumi Kai), was organized. With the help of other Arcade members, they offered bon dance, thin wheat noodles floated on water (nagashi somen), fireworks, a ghost house, etc. Thanks to good weather, a large crowd gathered at the Arcade. After six years of offering the event, it became a part of regular summer events in the city, to which many people expects to join every year, especially with children. Lucky, KK did not have any accident in the event, and hopes to continuously offer it every year, though where it can offer is not yet known.

On July 26, KK went to Ohfunato City to crop potatoes which participants planted in April. KK borrow a piece of land, particularly for this potato growing. Twenty pairs of children and parents participated, and they enjoyed in digging into mud or dirtying their faces with mud. This is the time when parents cannot scold children to become dirty. Everybody enjoyed getting themselves muddy. It is an unusual period of experiences for both parents and children. A scene of two small children pulling potatoes together strongly was really heart-warming. This experience also serves to teach children where food comes.

July 29 (Sun.) is another well-known event of KK, “Health Gathering.” This event is actually conducted periodically by Rikuzen Takata City, but KK cooperates with the city. The key is to bring toys, so that children can enjoy while they have health checks. Children usually cry during the checkups, but with toys they react differently. Because of this fresh idea, KK won a city award given to organizations contributing to improving health in the city. Given their philosophy of contributing to community, in a sense, KKs’ efforts and creativity are natural outcome of their own existence. Such activities also generate the unexpected outcome of Peoples’ increasing awareness of KK’s activities and contributions to the community.      

On August 4 (Sat.), “Iwate Playmates of Children” came to organize an event, where they play with KK children and sing songs together. Children very much enjoy their visit. Another interesting event coming in September 9 (Sun.) is “Craft Uncle.” A specialist to craft children’s toys will come and teach both parents and children how to make wood toys. On September 10 (Mon.), a medical doctor comes to KK and check children’s health. This even is called “Health Saloon,” which is also considered highly important contribution to the community health. On 13th, KK will organize “Kirarin’s Big Athletic Meeting”, in which even babies participate in some races.

Thus, KK has been very active and are making significant contributions to the community. Many events are even becoming city events, which people has a high expectation to have it continued. Well, can KK continue to respond to people’s expectations? The answer is not yet certain, since there may not be any place where they can move in a manageable way. They may have to temporarily move to a highly unattractive place, where people may feel discouraged to participate. KK has a very strong desire to continue offering these events and contributing to community development. A financial support may be in need to remain in the present Shopping Arcade, but donations are becoming increasingly difficult after seven years of redevelopment. KK is hesitant to move to another temporary place, especially to a highly unattractive place which discourages people to come for events. KK worries a lot, but it finds no solution to this problem, except working hard to continue in offering events and diverse activities. Where is KK moving? Nobody knows. But your support may be able to help them to stay in the present Shopping Arcade until they can move to a new final place.

Links:

Sep 12, 2018

Reviving Summer Festival for Mashiki Redevelopment

Picture 1: Children's Art Exhibits
Picture 1: Children's Art Exhibits

On July 28 (Sat.), a summer festival “Mahgo (Happy) Smile! Mashiki” was held in Mashiki-machi, Kumamoto Prefecture, for redeveloping the area from the earthquake disaster. It started from 3 pm and lasted as late as 10 pm. The Festival really became a big event, owing to the participation of Mashiki-machi Township Government which provided their large parking space for this event. It had the exhibits of art works (Pictures 1), a stage for music and dance performances (Picture 2), fire works by projection mapping technology (Picture 3), bon dance (Picture 4), and a food area with three kitchen cars and many food booths (Picture 5). Many shops also had their tents established for selling their goods, and large tents provided space for people to relax. Since it was an extremely hot day, the Master of Ceremony advised people to continuously drink water. Four TV and newspaper companies (KAB Kumamoto Asahi, KKT Kumamoto People TV, Kumamoto Nichi Nichi Newspaper, Yomiura Newspaper) were there reporting the event.

This Festival had three unusual characteristics, since it was (1) redevelopment efforts led by the private sector, (2) by focusing on community redevelopment, and (3) being stimulated by learning from the experiences of Kamaishi City in the East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster. Kamaishi Kitchen Car team closely cooperated with Mashiki-machi people, while Kamaishi City agreed to provide help to Kumamoto Prefectural Government. The cooperation was enriched by both private and public linkages. The Kamaishi experiences showed how important it is to revive community activities and redevelop local industries.

Revival Mashiki, the key organization working for the redevelopment of Mashiki-machi thought of reviving the Summer Festival to ignite a sense of community among Mashiki people. This organization was led by young entrepreneurs, one in the 40s who conducts a horticulture business and the other one whose newly established restaurant was destroyed completely a few days before its opening ceremony by the earthquake. With the funding of DSIA in cooperation with GlobalGiving, they started organizing events as “Wai Wai Hiroba (Chatting Square)” several times. They were also invited by Kamaishi Kitchen Car team to witness the severity of devastation in the East Japan Disaster and experience how Kitchen Car Project and Kamaishi Summer Festival contributed to nurture a sense of community. This learning encouraged the entrepreneurs to revive Mashiki Summer Festival as an attempt to rebuild the community.

This movement and also a visit to Kamaishi were all funded by DSIA and GlobalGiving. Everything started from a very small development of “Wai Wai Square” jointly with Kamaishi Kitchen Car team. A sense of trust and cooperation came to be nurtured through organizing several “Wai Wai Squares” together. Through such interaction, they learned the importance of summer festival for community development. However, when they started talking to community members and companies, requesting for support, many people were skeptical about what kind of event it was going to be and how effective it will be for community development. But amazingly, owing to organizers’ efforts, the movement started rolling forward to obtain many participants and donors to make the event unbelievably big.

Several attempts were made to develop this even by the organizers.

(1)   Volunteers

They tried to get as many volunteers as possible and had about 60 participants from a local high school baseball club (36), a university (11), and NGOs and other organizations (13).

(2)   Children’s Participation

All children from five Mashiki-machi Township grade schools participated to provide art exhibits and developed feeling that it is their own festival.

(3)   Inter-generational Interaction

There are local bon dances and songs, the community inherited from their ancestors. However, the earthquake stopped the practice of enjoying the traditional performances. The local Women Association agreed to teach people on dancing, and after three years of stoppage, dance was revived. On the Festival day, ladies in Women’s Association taught children of their grandchildren’s age, resulting in an unusual and fascinating experiences of inter-generational interaction for both senior ladies and children.

(4)   Stage Performances by Amateurs and Professionals

Junior and senior high school students danced on the stage, while professional artists performed to show their supports to Mashiki-machi. Loud welcoming voice of audience could be heard around the community.

(5)   Virtual Fireworks

Originally, it was planned to soot actual fireworks. But due to fire safety regulations, it was changed to use projection mapping technique over the Mashiki-machi Township building. And names of prominent people in the town were also projected to attract audience. It was one of the most attractive Festival events.

(6)   Traffic Access

The township building is located in an area with no public transportation access. Expecting that many people will come by car, parking space for 395 cars was arranged in three locations. And microbuses were also arranged to carry people from parking spaces to the event place. Some children came on bicycle, spending even half an hour to reach the even place.

(7)  Encouragement to Other Disaster Victims

This year even before the Summer Festival, several natural disasters, including disastrously heavy rain in the West Japan, occurred. A corner was established to write a message and signature on a hand-held fan to share hope and will to overcome difficulties. Many town people signed, and the head of this event organizer will deliver them to Osaka.

This festival was really successful, attracting about 10,000 people. Some kitchen cars and food shops ran out of food to serve, which definitely contributed to stimulating local economy. The Festival really became a place filled with heart-warming feelings and happy (Mahgo) smiles. Community people really enjoyed this event and started cherishing hope and expectations. Supporting companies and organizations were also very happy with the outcome. Consequently, Revival Mashiki members and local organizers became confident that they can further contribute to redeveloping the community. The organizers even acknowledged GlobalGiving and DSIA publicly for the contributions they made to realize this highly valuable event for them. (Picture 6)

Picture 2: Stage Performances
Picture 2: Stage Performances
Picture 3: Fire Works by Projection Mapping
Picture 3: Fire Works by Projection Mapping
Picture 4: Bon Dances
Picture 4: Bon Dances
Picture 5: Kitchen Cars and Food Booths
Picture 5: Kitchen Cars and Food Booths
Picture 6: DSIA and GlobalGiving Acknowledged
Picture 6: DSIA and GlobalGiving Acknowledged

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