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Helping Disaster-stricken Kumamoto by Kitchen Cars

by Ippan Shadan Hojin DSIA
Helping Disaster-stricken Kumamoto by Kitchen Cars
Helping Disaster-stricken Kumamoto by Kitchen Cars
Helping Disaster-stricken Kumamoto by Kitchen Cars
Helping Disaster-stricken Kumamoto by Kitchen Cars
Helping Disaster-stricken Kumamoto by Kitchen Cars
Helping Disaster-stricken Kumamoto by Kitchen Cars
Helping Disaster-stricken Kumamoto by Kitchen Cars
Helping Disaster-stricken Kumamoto by Kitchen Cars
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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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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In Front of Children's Life Education Center
In Front of Children's Life Education Center

The Kamaishi Kitchen Car Team entered Mashiki-cho as the seventh support trip since the Kumamoto Earthquake between April 14th and 17th, 2017. And this is the third support trip funded by GlobalGiving. As the first work, the Team had to repair kitchen cars they have left for Kumamoto kitchen car group to use for free. The high cost repairs, using money provided by the GlobalGiving, was an enormous help to Kumamoto Kitchen Car operators, since they do not have enough fund for operating kitchen cars.

One year has passed since the Kumamoto Earthquake, expecting many events to commemorate the disaster. Especially because of many events planned in Mashiki-cho, the Kamaishi Team visited this time where no media picks up as a rural news or no singer or movie star visits to express their supports. The place is the Children’s Life Education Center (Children’s L.E.C.), operated by a Christian organization, which provides secluded environments to children and families, having psychological or emotional problems due to difficulties encountered in their lives. In many cases, they are the victims of domestic violence and unusual family situations. The organization is not providing any treatment based on drug or operation, but it rather helps patients to develop a rhythm in daily living in secluded environments to restore their psychological order. For those who have graduated from the center, the organization also continues to provide counseling to make sure they do not have recurred problems.

The Kamaishi Kitchen Car Team visited there twice in the past, when they still had temporary houses to disaster-stricken people. In the past, staffs there were highly sensitive to prevent their children having any direct contacts with people in the temporary housing. Even though the Team provided attractive foods, such as chocolate-covered bananas, yakisoba (fried noodles), ox tongues, etc., often sold in festivals, the only information the Team received in the past was that children enjoyed a lot. The Team was never allowed to meet children. However, this time, when the Team offered the same food as it did before, for the first time, children came out and showed the Team their beautiful smiling faces. It was an enormous joy for the Team. But hearing about their psychological difficulties due to their past experiences from the center staffs was really a shock. Knowing their problems, their bright smiles really meant the expression of joy from the bottom of the heart. And their unusual smiles gave the Team an enormous reward, very difficult to be described. Children’s return of smiles on their faces, which they lost in their lives, really meant enormous reward to the Team’s support activities. While the Team was providing a chance of enjoying festival food, they were rewarded by the blessing of beautiful and genuine smiles.

One of success stories of rebuilding Kamaishi is “Kamaishi Yoisa” which performs a festival dance with the participation of a large number of Kamaishi residents and street-side watchers, many from the outside of the city. The Yoisa Festival they organizes strengthens people’s spirit for and commitment to rebuilding Kamaishi, creates business opportunities, and stimulates local economy. Appreciating the fortunate outcome of the festival, they thought of supporting disaster-stricken Kumamoto people by creating special goods and providing donations. This time, the Kamaishi Kitchen Car team carried the donation from Kamaishi Yoisa to a group of young people in Mashiki-machi who developed a movement called “Revival Mashiki.” They are expanding and developing diverse activities to stimulate community movements, while they are trying to learn from Tohoku experiences in rebuilding their communities. The Kamaishi Kitchen Car Team, supported by GlobalGiving, is actually conveying valuable lessons from Tohoku and is providing highly timely supports for community rebuilding. The “Revival Mashiki” team is now really challenging the difficult task of community redevelopment, owing to a strong support from the Kamaishi Kitchen Car Team funded by GlobalGiving.

Small support activities became the source of enormous joy and stimulation for community redevelopment activities. The Kamaishi Kitchen Car Team, without any intention of doing so, actually played highly important and indispensable roles for disaster-stricken Kumamoto people.

Donation by Kamaishi Yosakoi
Donation by Kamaishi Yosakoi
Kitchen Car Operation
Kitchen Car Operation
Broad Casting about Kumamoto Kitchen Car Operation
Broad Casting about Kumamoto Kitchen Car Operation

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Event Flier at Yasunaga Waiwai Arcade
Event Flier at Yasunaga Waiwai Arcade

Kamaishi Kitchen Car (KKC) members knew very well that disaster-stricken Kumamoto people will feel most stressed around the end of the first year since the earthquake. This is precisely the reason why they visited the Mashikicho Techno Temporary Housing (MTTH) to discuss about future events. One coordinator of future events from the KKC team met the heads of the Techno Temporary Housing Shop Arcade, the Neighborhood Community Association, and NPO Cannus (an association for home-visiting voluntary nurses) , and also each heads of A-F Blocks of Neighborhood Communities. The coordinator feared that they were not aware of stress people were feeling, because only a few months have passed since these Neighborhood Community organizations were established. These heads did not really understood how events that the coordinator is organizing will build a system of generating interactions among people and the expansion of Shopping Arcade business activities. Thus, discussions about events with these people always resulted in different reactions and levels of expectations. Now, the KKC members started discussing about the post-one-year memorial events, since, based on their own experiences, they knew how important it is to organize an event at the most stressful period.

Contrary to their expectation, KKC members are finding it easier to work with people at the Yasunaga Waiwai (Chatting) Arcade and organize events, since several Kumamoto Kitchen Car members are operating in that arcade. On February 25, they had an event at the Yasunaga Waiwai Arcade (see pictures of a flier and a crowd at the event), where Kumamoto and Kamaishi kitchen car members came together and sold food. Unlike relations with MTTH, this event was initiated by Kumamoto Kitchen Car members, which requested the participation of KKC members. Their initiative meant that they are actively trying to recover from the disaster and aggressively working to redevelop the area. This eagerness to rebuild the Yasunage Community can also be recognized in their charging the minimum price to food and services and donating all profit to rebuild the Yasunaga Shrine. They are trying to solicit cooperation from local people for rebuilding their own community, one of whose symbols in the area is the Shrine. They even agreed on February 25 to organize a big event on April 16 in cooperation with KKC members.

Because KKC members knew that disaster-stricken people feel most stressed about one year after a disaster and also that the public offices do not pay proper attention on the difficulties that ladies and wives are facing, the KKC members made a very unusual and excellent initiative to bring a mother who helped to operate kitchen cars and opened a restaurant, working as a cook, manager, and waitress. Actually this person was invited to this event, because of requests from the wives of Kumamoto Kitchen Car operators, who could not find anybody to consult about their problems. Since serious attention to the role of women in the process of redeveloping business has never been paid before, this person attracted a fairly large number of attendants to this meeting. They expressed problems about their roles in businesses, how to maintain their lives, to balance childrearing and business, relations with customers, etc. Especially, their worry about children is serious. Since they cannot find a daycare center or post-school centers for school children, they have to keep their children at a very small space of a kitchen car or a restaurant, which is not only dangerous but also unfavorable for children to face. Needless to say, they worry a lot whether they can make the recovery of their businesses, whether they are making a good business plan, whether they should make a decision to quite the present attempt, or how and when they can estimate the probability of succeeding in the present business. Wives’ worries are actually much more straight forward than husbands, who keep a lot of information confidential. The KKC members are providing really valuable supports to people who usually do not have any access to consultation and information. Many Yasunaga women were really delighted to have this type of support, and will continue to have personal communications through SNS, even though a long physical distance between Kumamoto and Kamaishi exists.

With some groups, the KKC members have been having difficulty to convince the value of community-based events due to very weak neighborhood associations, while with other groups, they have been successful in developing good relations, organizing events, and providing valuable supports. They have made especially valuable and rare supports and contributions to the wives of Kumamoto Kitchen Car operators, who suffers from serious stresses without having anybody to consult with about their problems. 

Crowd at the Event 1
Crowd at the Event 1
Crowd at the Event 2
Crowd at the Event 2
Event Organizers
Event Organizers

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Picture 1: Redevelopment Shop Arcade
Picture 1: Redevelopment Shop Arcade

The Kumamoto Earthquake took place on April 14, 2016, and continued to have earth shakes until the end of August. Although the difficulties of the East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami generated a lot of delays in building temporary housing and developing emergency schemes, the government in the Kumamoto Earthquake was much quicker to respond to the needs of disaster-stricken people, owing to lessons learned from the East Japan disaster. As fast as three months after the earthquake, there were already the developments of temporary housing areas with an adequate number of houses.

Despite so, the nature of people’s fear toward the earthquake is quite different, since the fear started taking place after several days of shakes. Some families found themselves safe at the first shake, while the second and the third shakes gradually destroyed their houses, making them impossible to continue living. When the fear took place at once just like in the East Japan disaster, efforts can be made to give up what they lost and start thinking about rebuilding their communities. However, if the loss was gradual and if they found many places previously safe became all unsafe, their unusual experiences shattered their sense of efforts for rebuilding communities.

Along with this sense of deep fear for any place previously considered safe in their communities and also ease in moving to another place without any geographical restrictions make them feel less committed to rebuilding their communities. In a period when a community was destroyed by a natural disaster, rebuilding good human relations become the base of building community relations. People in the East Japan disaster learned in a very hard way how important it is to redevelop good human relations for nurturing a sense of community and redeveloping a community itself.

However, building human relations in the Mashikicho Tekuno Temporary Housing (MTTH) is found especially difficult, since HTTM consists of more than 500 houses and since the area was divided into six different blocks despite the fact they all live in one place and use one shopping arcade. These characteristics resulted in MTTH’s delay in establishing the Neighborhood Community Association (NCA) until as late as the middle of November, while people started moving into the area in July. Actually, it took four months to develop the NCA to collectively cater for the needs of disaster-stricken people. This failure very much suggests a difficulty of building good community relations and speeding up the redevelopment of the area.

People in Kamaishi experiencing the East Japan disaster, in an abrupt way, learned how important it is to develop good human relations for nurturing a sense of community. This is precisely the reason why the Kamaishi Kitchen Car (KKC) team took their roles as a facilitator for bringing people in MTTH together, and planned to have a Winter Festival in MTTH on Dec. 11, 2016 (Sun.). This festival was organized by the Kitchen Car National Disaster Support Network, which is initiated and operated by the KKC, presently operated by the Kamaishi Platform Co. Ltd. Four organizations provide funding, one of which is the Ippan Shadan Hojin DSIA. Another supporting organizations is Yashiro Fishermen’s Cooperative, which has already developed long-term mutual cooperative relations with oyster producers in Kamaishi, actually their relations going back before the East Japan disaster. This Cooperative sent seven people to participate in this festival by serving their oyster to people in MTTH.

The KCC team was acting based on their experiences of the East Japan disaster where human relations in communities are traditionally strong, especially because each community tends to be small and isolated by high mountains or deeply indented coastal lines. The KKC team started organizing the festival several months ago by contacting those whom they have met at the initial stage of serving free food. And in order to make sure that the festival works out smoothly, the team along with the author entered Mashikicho a few days before the festival.

The KCC team has earlier developed good relations with people at a temporary shop arcade, called Redevelopment Shop Arcade (RSA) (Picture 1), consisted of fifteen shops, built on a parking space borrowed from a damaged Kuroshio-Honryu-Supermarket building. However, suddenly the supermarket decided to rebuild its shop and requested the return of the parking space for bringing in construction equipment, and informed RSA to move out by December 2016. After negotiating with the supermarket, shops in RSA succeeded in postponing the deadline until June 2017. This was the very reason why many shop owners have been consulting with the KKC team, especially some of which were seriously thinking of shifting to kitchen cars to continue their businesses. At this moment, only one shop decided to do so and just recently purchased a kitchen car produced by a company the KKC team has been purchasing for their Kamaishi project (Picture 2). What is good about the KKC team was that they become one stop place for learning how to operate a kitchen car, purchasing a kitchen car, and receiving advises on conducting businesses. This team also closely coordinate with the Kumamoto Catering Car Association, which facilitates the smooth acquisitions of government permissions and advises on locations where kitchen cars can operate with some good sales. As a matter of fact, one company, which has a very good reputation of producing high-quality and constantly-improved kitchen cars, works closely with the KCC team to give advises on kitchen car operations. The company even joined this festival by bringing a newly developed kitchen car to serve food to people. The outcome of such coordinated activities in Mashikicho resulted in two kitchen car operators: one which sells coffee during day time and alcoholic drinks at night; and the other which sells sweets. The latter kitchen car even developed its original “Mashiki Pudding” (Picture 3), which has been frequently reported in local news. The KKC team has already made some impacts to develop kitchen car operators in the Kumamoto disaster.

The head of the Temporary Shops Association in MTTH has been rather taking a passive stance to solve several issues due to the difficulty of coordinating diverse interests. It was clear that a sense of community was not well nurtured in MTTH, especially because NCA was established only three weeks ago. Even though a sense of community may be different from East Japan, the difficulty of coordination itself actually suggested the importance of developing a sense of community in MTTH and the importance of activities, such as the festival, by the KCC team.

Naturally, the KKC team encountered a lot of miscommunications among participants and visited each shop in MTTH on Dec. 9 (Fri.), cleared misunderstanding, and obtained the promises of their participation. Since solving miscommunications was quite a tough work, the KKC members even started worrying whether there will be enough participants to this festival. Fearing a possible unexpected outcome, on Dec. 10 (Sat.), the team delivered announcements to all 500 households and went shopping to prepare for food to be served.

Anxieties that the KKC team had was meaningless. Although only twenty people were waiting for the opening at 9:00 am, people started gathering around 10:00 am. It was the idea of the KKC team to have games for both adults and children. For adults, people could get for free a fairly large amount of potatoes and onions, may be worth about 500 yen, if they had the right amount of weight, while if not, they had to pay 100 yen. Even so, this was a bargain. Many people lined up waiting for their turn, and loud voices of one in charge of this game created quite lively atmosphere (Picture 4). Next to that place, children played ring throwing, which was operated by high school volunteers, some of whom were from MTTH and some from outside (Picture 5). Then, around 11:00 am oyster soup and yakisoba (Picture 6) came to be served. Many people were just waiting for lunch-time food, especially for yakisoba. which ended up having a line of 20 to 30 people waiting. An interesting phenomenon is that when one person asked if she could bring her own pan for oyster soup and when she was approved to do so, then many people went back home and brought small-sized pans. Consequently, giving a bigger serving to a pan than a small soup cup at the same price, this practice ended up reducing the number of people who could be served out of one large-sized cooking pan. Since heat from LP gas was rather weak, cooking oyster soup took a long time and created a longer line. Although many people lined up, they did not mind at all to wait for a fairly long time, since the soup was really good with an unexpectedly many oysters in it.

Adult weighing game with vegetables was priced at 100 yen (93 cents). children’s game at 50 yen (46 cents), oyster soup at 50 yen (46 cents), yakisoba at 50 yen (46 cents), and coffee and corn soup at 10 yen (9 cents). Free food was considered not good, since some shops in MTTH tried to get their own customers on that day. If it is completely free, those shops will not get any customer. But the earning of about 30,000 yen through these activities actually suggests that a fairly large number of purchases and playing took place. It was donated to the Temporary Shop Association for their activities. At the end of the day, everybody who helped to make this Winter Festival success gathered for picture taking (Picture 7). Surprisingly, the number was about 25 people, quite many volunteered to make this event successful.

Thus, people seemed to be very happy to attend the Winter Festival, and offered a lot of opportunities for them to meet with each other. They relaxed at tables located in the center of the arcade. And many people expressed their appreciation for the kind offering of helping hands to them, though many people still do not know where they are going. Some expressed that they will never be able to go back where they used to live, simply because they do not have any saving to build a house, while the government cleans up a piece of land for them. Quite a significant portion of people in MTTH may belong to this category, greatly due to their age. Many people who attended the festival, at least for a moment, had a sense of warm community relations, which might have triggered future-oriented thinking.

Picture 2: Newly Purchased Kitchen Car
Picture 2: Newly Purchased Kitchen Car
Picture 3: Mashiki Pudding Kitchen Car
Picture 3: Mashiki Pudding Kitchen Car
Picture 4: Game for Adults (Weighing Vegetables)
Picture 4: Game for Adults (Weighing Vegetables)
Pictuire 5: Children's Game (Throwing Rings)
Pictuire 5: Children's Game (Throwing Rings)
Picture 6: Long Waiting Line for Yakisoba
Picture 6: Long Waiting Line for Yakisoba
Picture 7: Volunteers for Winter Festival
Picture 7: Volunteers for Winter Festival

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Organization Information

Ippan Shadan Hojin DSIA

Location: Tokyo - Japan
Website:
Project Leader:
Yoshitaka Okada
Tokyo, Tokyo Japan

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