Voices of Tohoku-visual community archive project

by IsraAID
Feb 18, 2014

Voices Of Tohoku December 2013- February 2014

Voices of Tohoku book presentation
Voices of Tohoku book presentation


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.

Volunteers interviewing in Ishinomaki
Volunteers interviewing in Ishinomaki
Archive event with the mayor of Watari
Archive event with the mayor of Watari
Interview with Ishinomaki volunteer worker
Interview with Ishinomaki volunteer worker

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Organization Information


Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Website: http:/​/​www.israaid.org
Project Leader:
Shachar Zahavi
natanya, Japan

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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