It has bean three years since the earth quake happened. You may see some news about current occasion of nuclear plants and leaks of radiation on TV and Internet often. It, however, is hard to capture the recent situation of victims from Tsunami and earthquake. I, Yasushi Matsui a.k.a noa-, decided to revisit Ishinomaki and Oshika Peninsula in August 2013, to see what is going on with Ibuki project, which Rise Japan supported with $500 as a donation a year ago.
I would like to give a big thanks to Gravityfree for giving me a chance to revisit them.
In March of 2013, the project got on the process after about a year and a half of planning and consultation with local residents. Taken all the unused parts and scrap woods, replaced with new wooden floors, set new Kamidana, fixed tilt of the house. You can check the documentation and pictures here. Opening of the facility was scheduled for July but it is suspended because of a lack of funds. Please make a donation for their effort and see the progress to the goal together. DONATION
Next to the house, there is remarkable Kura. It is still on a discussion for its usage. If you have a idea for it, you may drop on it.
A few ships are slowly coming back to set at a shore for mainly Oyster and Seaweed. The painting done with Gravityfree when I visited a first time in 2012, is displayed at Sea Bus Waiting Room.
At Shore, you could see there is a construction and building new houses, and all the empty spot are filled with grasses. In the town, brand new supermarkets and home improvement retailers, even new Pachinko opened up.
It is in the progress of remodeling the building. Kamidana from the local houses washed out by Tsunami was corrected and piled up, settled to be burned. Gravityfree supportively painted on a wall of one of new shrine. It is amazing piece and really recommend to see it with your eyes.
Before we leave the town, Gravityfree and their friend took me to Kaki Goya (Oyster House). You are able to enjoy grilling and eating Oyster which just came out from sea the day. As you are wonder, all the oyster were passed Radiation test. Unfortunately I am not good at eating Oyster, but I could have a couple. I was lucky to taste them because it was a season of Oyster carrying a babes which adds a sweet and tasty flavor.
It was amazingly to see that town systems are recovered quickly, and all mud and rubble piled up one location are removed to somewhere, but there is a lot of people who still live at temporary houses. There is a limitation what we are able to do for them, but we must keep eye them. What the people are afraid of is the world will forget about them. I encourage you to visit North East Japan. Volunteer and Donation is not only way of supporting them. It is more important to get in touch with people in face to face.
Bubb is a producer of Ibuki project and a leader of the construction team.
Here is an interview of him by Koe Magazine (published in July 2013).
He explains about why Ibuki project started and what the project is for. http://www.koemagazine.com/2013/07/bubb-space-maker/
In early May, Yasushi Matsui a.k.a. noa-, headed up to northeast Japan to deliver the Rise Japan donations to Open Japan in Ishinomaki, which runs the SunRice and Ibuki projects (please check the link for more info). Even though I could only stay for five days, I had a chance to walk around and see the current situation of affected area.
I would like to share some photos so you can see the current situation.
The neighborhood around the shoreline had been heavily damaged. Some houses are still standing but inside was cleaned out. In a story about the situation right after the tsunami happened, there was mud and rubble everywhere, and it smelled so bad no one can explain how the bad it smells. It felt like vacant lots were everywhere. If you walk a little more inland you can find brand new houses here and there, but there are many people still living in temporary housing.
When I arrived at the Open Japan base, the SunRice project was having a meeting for the day’s delivery and to educate new volunteers. I could not join the actual delivery work, but I helped repacking the rice into individual 3kg bags. On the assembly line, the first person measures the rice to 3kg. The next person closes the bag, and the last person puts the message on the bag. Then they are packed into a container and delivered by the volunteers one by one.
Oshika peninsula is the closest to the center of earthquake, and got experienced the worst damage from the tsunami. They were famous for their fishing industry, especially whaling, oyster farming, and harvesting sea weed. Sadly most of the ships were carried away, and a lot of fishermen had to leave the town to find work. There are also people who decided to stay and continue business at a temporary building built by Japanese Emergency NGO and funded by a German Organization called Help.
This is the house which the Ibuki project is trying to fix and to rebuild as a community center so people can come and do events or workshops. I’m amazed the house is still standing in Ooharahama since it is built in by the shore. No one knows how long this project will take to be completed, but everyone is hoping to see this house change and people gather around. To make a meaningful project for the locals, Open Japan and locals from Ooharahama are discussing the direction of this project.
I had a chance to hear the 1st conference. There were negative comments from the locals in contrast to the high motivation of Open Japan. Obviously it is hard to think about the future of Ooharahama because of the decreasing population of the town, especially younger generations. Members of Open Japan, however, believe in the Ibuki project which will be a key point to reconstruct the town and bring the people back. I decided to donate the whole donation to the Ibuki project to support the courage of the volunteers who are willing to complete this project. The donation still does not satisfy half of their goal. Please make a donation for their effort and see the progress to the goal together. DONATION
In this miserable situation, people are trying to get up and give a hand to each other to rebuild the community, economy and society. Since it was a holiday season and Children’s Day, festivals were held with a wish for revival by the locals and volunteers. I had a chance to paint with Gravityfree at a few places.
The festival for Oshika was especially impressive. The festival was planned for May 3rd, but it was cancelled because of bad weather and postponed to the 4th. Worrying about the weather, locals and volunteers joined forces to prepare, and the festival started with beautiful weather. When the festival got close to the end, it was starting to rain. Most of the people gave up to see the fireworks which were planned last, but suddenly the rain stopped like someone turned the knob on the shower. Then Huge fireworks blew up on the dark sky. Big smiles came back on people’s faces. There were people crying. This must be a great opportunity to gather people from around the Oshika Peninsula and volunteers. They will remember this new unity, and it will give the light for the future of Oshika.
We would like to announce that we will focus on long-term support of two projects organized by Ishinomaki Kizuna: SunRice and Ibuki. We are planning to volunteer at these projects in Japan this May. Donations we raise from Rise Japan fundraiser events will directly support distributing rise to each households, and rebuilding traditional Japanese houses in Ishinomaki-shi (one of the main damaged areas by tsunami).
For more details, you can download PDF (日本語版 PDF) by clicking the images below.
English translation by Robert Porter and Yasushi Matsui