Nov 6, 2017

Urgent Need for Restarting New Phase of Redevelopm

A Kitchen Car at Revival Mashiki Festival
A Kitchen Car at Revival Mashiki Festival

More than one year has passed since the Kumamoto Earthquake, and people in Mashiki-cho, the worst hit area of the earthquake, came out of the phases of emergency responses and initial rebuilding. Now, rebuilding is providing some future prospect of the area and is relieving people. However, economic activities of residents have not yet been redeveloped, forcing people to leave the Mashiki-cho to Kumamoto City or to some vicinity areas where employment is available. The Mashiki-cho Community is facing many serious problems, because the crucial shift from the initial rebuilding stage into full redevelopment is not well taking place. People in the community are not fully addressing vital issues to rebuild their community. The biggest cause of these problems is the population decline, because residents are moving out of Mashiki-cho, stalling diverse community activities. Having less number of people taking leadership is increasingly discouraging people to remain in the community. People are losing their community identity, and are becoming hesitant to take serious leadership. The Ippan Shadan Hojin DSIA is doing an inadequate work to generate changes in the post-redevelopment phase. Now, we need to restart a new phase of our struggles to rebuild the Mashiki-cho redevelopment.

After the East Japan Earthquake, DSIA helped Kamaishi Platform (KP) to develop the Kamaishi Kitchen Car Project and rebuilt Kamaishi Community, believing that the redevelopment of an area requires first the rebuilding of a sense of community to make any projects to be effective. Without community identity, economic rebuilding will not have its coordinated effects, making people less happy to have stayed in the community. Because of KP’s success in developing the Kamaishi Kitchen Car Project and rebuilding the Kamaishi Community, the project was designated as the most effective rebuilding example in 2012 by the ‘s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Though it is taking a long time, the Kamaishi Community is now enjoying their redeveloped life.

Given KP’s experiences in the disaster situations and success in community rebuilding, KP decided to help the Mashiki-cho Community by donating kitchen cars and organizing people willing to engage in kitchen car activities. Hence, KP again requested a support from DSIA, which decided to continue helping KP to build the Kumamoto Kitchen Car Team (KuKCT). Key members are young entrepreneurs in Mashiki-cho, who cherishes to make Mashiki-cho prosperous as entrepreneurs in the community. These entrepreneurs even took an initiative to establish a community redevelopment organization, called “Revival Mashiki (RM).” However, coming to the second year of their efforts to rebuild Mashiki-cho Community, they are finding themselves not generating adequate community movements. They requested KP to advise on a new phase of KuKCT’s activities under the name of RM organization to advance their movements to a higher level to be more effective in developing Mashiki-cho Community. After consulting with KP, young entrepreneurs of RM developed the following project to further advance their activities to the second stage.

Now, it is the turn for DSIA to respond to their urgent need of people trying to rebuild Mashiki-cho Community.

Their planned activities are twofold: One is (A) to reopen “Mashiki Wai Wai Square” and the other is (B) to revive a traditional bon festival to regenerate community identity. The details are as follows:

(A)To Reopen “Mashiki Wai Wai Square” to Offer Local People to Sell and Buy Local Products: With the financial help of GlobalGiving, KuKCT organized three Mashiki Wai Wai Square in cooperation with local shops and local associations from August 2016 to August 2017, which successfully provided a place where local people come together in a market with some festival-type activities. Their activities were well appreciated. Now, given the second stage, KuKCT under the name of RM (KuKCT/RM) felt needs to continue with this activity to further rebuild a sense of community, especially because the slow redevelopment process is generating the declining of the local population. Young people especially started moving out of temporary housing in Mashiki-cho to look for employment and decent living conditions in other areas. KuKCT/RM are now feeling needs for developing stronger movements to retain these departing people in Mashiki-cho. This issue is also a quite critical issue, since young entrepreneurs’ business is very much dependent on the prosperity of Mashiki-cho Community. Hence, KuKCT/RM’s plan is to reopen “Mashiki Wai Wai Square” every month for nine months, organizing small-sized Square six times attracting about 300 local people and three times of large-sized Square with big events attracting about 1,000 people in-between these markets. This will be important activities presently, since almost all temporary commercial locations to accommodate disaster-stricken retail shops have been already closed, forcing disaster-stricken local retailors finding it necessary to move out of Mashiki-cho. This “Mashiki Wai Wai Square” will generate important opportunities for local people to meet and intermingle together. Actually, they have already organized "Mashiki Wai Wai Square" at Kuramoto Flower Shop, which leads the RM entrepreneurs (Picture 1).

(B)To Search for Opportunities to Strengthen a Sense of Community by Redeveloped a Traditional Festival: In August 2017, KuKCT members visited Kamaishi City under GlobalGiving funding and thanked the Kamaishi Mayor for his support to Mashiki-cho during the Kamaishi Yosakoi Festival. There, they found that a traditional festival is highly effective to bring community people together and generate a strong community identity. Since their return to Mashiki-cho in August, they have been discussing if they could revive a traditional festival. In the town, Yasunaga Shrine established in 1602 has been organizing a summer festival every year attracting a large number of local people and children. However, they stopped operating the festival since the disaster. It has been a very attractive event organized in Mashiki-cho, and allows to bring young and old people together without any hesitation. KuKCT/RM thought of taking an initiative to revive the summer festival to bring a stronger sense of local community. To take such an initiative, it is highly important to understand the needs and willingness of people to participate in the festival. Hence, KuKCT/RM also expressed their carefulness that they will not proceed with this program unless they obtain supports from the local community. Hence, they would like to make an initial movement to see if the summer festival can be revived. Now, they are already discussing how they can revive the festival with the Head of Yasunaga Shrine (Picture 2).

In this new stage of redevelopment in the second year, young entrepreneurs with the help of Kamaishi people are really in need of your support to bring back what Mashiki-cho Community used to be. They are very eager to work for their community people, only thing not adequately coming is funding. The DSIA sincerely wish to have your support to these activities which young Masihiki-cho entrepreneurs are organizing. They are the key members of rebuilding the future of the community. Thank you very much for your attention.  

Initiating to Revive Festival with H of Shrine
Initiating to Revive Festival with H of Shrine

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Oct 9, 2017

Constantly Innovating for Better Childrearing

Opening of new shops
Opening of new shops

Rikuzen Takata City looks different every time one visits there. Now, the basic infrastructure of gas, water and electricity finally has been installed in the newly raised land, and new commercial complexes start appearing (Picture 1). As many as 6.5 years have passed since the disaster. Even so, only a small number of complex appeared, while many others are still in construction. Those who have been working in temporary complexes look very lively after moving into their long-waited final complexes. The head of Kirarin Kids (KK) expressed that they are so lively that you would like to help them in any way possible. For consumers who have been shopping at temporary shops now feel that this liveliness is what everybody should have very soon, though a serious concern still remains whether all land can be filled with such lively shops.

KK has been always energetically operating, especially focusing on dietary education and parents-children communications. Believing that dietary education is most effective when people experience, KK organized potato cropping in July. For a similar reason, KK is planning to have a dietary education session using apples, since this area is well known for apple cropping in October. This event of apple cropping for KK’s parents and children, organized in cooperation with a local orchard, is especially popular among many other events. KK also newly introduced an event, called “Hug and Momi Communications,” by bringing in a lecturer from Tokyo. It communicates very warm feeling between parents and children by massaging with hugging and transmitting warmth of hands to children.

This summer, KK introduced an event, in which people come together to enjoy cool breeze in the evening of summer days, hoping the even becoming a new festival in the city. Needless to say about KK members, it successfully solicited the participation of 350 people. They organized fireworks and food booths, especially with the help of volunteer students from Tokyo. Through this event, KK played a very important role of linking people together from both inside and outside of the city. One family who moved from a big city to Rikuzen Takata expresses that they are really happy that they can enjoy very nice and warm environments for children, which you cannot have in big cities. The head of KK was really happy to hear such comments, since providing warm and nice environments for children is the sole purpose of KK’s existence.

There is an internship program for local high school students to experience actual work in local firms. This type of program is found all over Japan. But starting this year, Rikuzen Takata City started including NPOs as places of internship. KK cooperated and accepted one student who helped KK to organize events, hoping such experiences will stimulate students’ interests to work in organizations for promoting better childrearing in this city. Another contribution is to organize a play event for children bigger than KK’s members in a newly established shopping complex. The place became really noisy with children playing and running around. Many people expressed that this liveliness is what people needs all the time in all over the city.

Another KK’s new attempt is to organize an event in cooperation with an NPO, called “Kororin,” in Ofunato City which reads books and stories to people. The heads of both organizations knew each other for a long time, but they never had a chance to discuss such collaboration due to their busy schedule. Kororin comes to KK with many story books, and KK members can borrow and return them in three children-play centers operated by the city. They developed a mobile library system, where parents and children can easily borrow books and return them at places where they frequently visit. It is clearly a very convenient system which may encourage parents and children to read more books. Since the City’s Central Library was newly opened this year, this system may also stimulate them to visit the library.

KK also relies on talents of KK member. One mother who graduated from an art university organizes an event for making stamps out of erasers to put decorations on clothes, shoes, bags, etc. (Picture 2). This event grew out of daily usual conversations among mothers, which KK turn into a very attractive event.

KK is only one of four childrearing places in the city. However, KK is the only one operated by an NPO, while three others are by the city government. But the NPO status enables them to generate flexibility in their programs as well as implement strategic foci on local childrearing mothers by fully making use of local farmers’ resources. KK also cleverly makes use of public facilities to further organize new evens. This is simply because their goal is to improve childrearing environments of the whole city, not simply of their activities.

KK also introduced a nursing facility for mothers needing to leave children temporarily to visit hospitals or have relaxations at the cost of \2,000 per hour. They are finding some needs in the program. This program is introduced only for KK members, not for anybody, since they want to work with mothers KK already has close relations. Trust is indispensable in such program.

KK is always listening to the voices of mothers and children, thinking what they can do for building the future of childrearing in the city. They are doing an excellent work, though they do not know when they will move from the present temporary facility to their own one.

Decorated wood pieces by eraser stamps
Decorated wood pieces by eraser stamps

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Aug 11, 2017

Enhanced Bondage in Mashiki-Kamaishi Relations

Picture 1: Praying in front of Otsuchi Town Hall
Picture 1: Praying in front of Otsuchi Town Hall

With the funding of DSIA financed by GlobalGiving donations, Kamaishi Kitchen Car Team (KaKCT) visited the Mashiki Town Earthquake Disaster sites three times in the past year and provided diverse services of delivering free food, becoming a part of event activities, and helping the Kumamoto Kitchen Car Team (KuKCT) to start their kitchen-car businesses. Following the Kamaishi example and KaKCT’s advises, KuKCT developed an organization, called Revival Mashiki (RM) in order to generate diverse redevelopment activities. As the final part of KaKCT support, the key members and their families of RM were invited to come to Kamaishi City. They came into Kamaishi at 14:00 on August 5 (Sat.), 2017, and left there around 14:00 on August 6 (Sun.), by driving 3,400 km round trip.

The purposes of the invitation were diverse: (1) to show the seriousness of the East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster, whose remnants are still there even after six years; (2) to learn about diverse activities developed by Kamaishi City for its recovery and redevelopment; (3) to give the appreciation letter of Mashiki Town Head to the Mayor of Kamaishi City for providing diverse help to Mashiki Town; (4) to participate into the evens of “Kamaishi Yoisa Dance Festival” held in the evening of August 5, which played highly vital roles of keeping the identify of Kamaishi residents and encouraging them to continue to struggle for redevelopment; and (5) finally to give RM visitors, especially their children, a chance to enjoy a relaxed moment in a beach. Although the stay was just an overnight event, it was full of interaction with local people, learning, encouragement, emotionally moving scenes, and enjoyment. This event meant a lot to the leading members of RM and their families.

They stayed overnight in Otsuchi Town, which is a neighboring town to Kamaishi located 12 km away. The Otsuchi Town Hall remains as a heart-breaking remnant of the disaster, since about 40 out of 60 Town Hall staffs, including the Town Head, died because of tsunami. They all moved out of the building, because of broken lights inside the building, trying to work out strategies to cope with the earthquake in large tents set on a parking area. Then, the tsunami came and took away the lives of all administrative staffs above and including the rank of section chief. Only 20 succeeded to go up to the top of the Town Hall Building to stay alive. Consequently, the town became completely paralyzed, delaying its redevelopment. RM members and their children went to pray in front of the statue (Picture 1), and were really surprised at the height of tsunami wave and understood the severity of the disaster.

Right before the “Kamaishi Yoisa Dance Festival,” KaKC and KuKC members all gathered at a restaurant, called Becks, which used to operate a kitchen car after the disaster and successfully earned enough money to rent a space in a newly established shopping arcade. There, over soft drinks, they had a chance to hear experiences of its kitchen car operation and also KaKC operations from its administrative staff. Then, they all changed into RM’s sweat shirts with the design of Kizuna (bondage), stating “Hand in Hand, One Love-One Heart, Mashiki,” and waited for their turn to be on the stage of “Kamaishi Yoisa.” Everybody including children went up to the stage, and the representative of RM read the letter from the Town Head of Mashiki-cho to the Kamaishi Mayor (Pictures 2 and 3). It was really an important moment of showing a sense of cooperation and bondage which KaKC has been working hard to develop.

Then, all members joined a team of volunteers from UBS in Tokyo to participate in this dance festival, one of whom was from Mashiki Town and some from foreign countries. Not having time to learn how to dance, RM members including children were dancing freely and really enjoying it. It was quite a heavy exercise of two hours, getting sweaty and hungry (Pictures 4 and 5). Then, back to Becks, everybody enjoyed eating and drinking till late at night, while children went to their hotel after eating.

The next day, all went to another restaurant alongside a beach for breakfast, which is operated by another graduate of the kitchen car operation. Then, they all went to a beach to enjoy swimming and play with beach sand (Pictures 6 and 7). This trip was really memorable for RM members to see Kamaishi and deliver the letter from the Mashiki Town Head to the Kamaishi Mayor and was really enjoyable for children, dancing in Kamaishi Yoisa and swimming in beach. Their visit was even reported the next day in the front page of Kamaishi Newspaper dated August 9, 2017 (Picture 8).

Since the fund to support KuKC is running out, this trip could be the last time that DSIA can offer to help people in Mashiki Town. But at least, DSIA’s supports enabled to establish a special organization in Mashiki Town for redevelopment and create a ground for mutual support and help between Mashiki Town and Kamaishi City, especially through kitchen car operations which DSIA has been supporting since 2011 in Kamaishi. DSIA is highly appreciative of GlobalGiving and its donors for enabling DSIA to develop a system of mutual help in disaster recovery and redevelopment. We express our deep gratitude to many who helped us to provide helping hands to many disaster-stricken people in Mashiki Town and Kamaishi City.

Letter from Mashiki Town Head
Letter from Mashiki Town Head
Picture 3: Reading the letter on the stage
Picture 3: Reading the letter on the stage
Picture 4: Dancing in Kamaishi Yoisa
Picture 4: Dancing in Kamaishi Yoisa
Picture 5: Joining volunteers from UBS in Tokyo
Picture 5: Joining volunteers from UBS in Tokyo
Picture 6: Breakfast at ex-kitchen car operator
Picture 6: Breakfast at ex-kitchen car operator
Picture 7: Enjoying swimming
Picture 7: Enjoying swimming
Picture 8: Article in Kamaishi Newspaper
Picture 8: Article in Kamaishi Newspaper

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