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.