Aug 2011


Two public baths open in Ishinomaki! “Kizuna no yu” and “Fudou no yu”

Two new public baths, “Kizuna no yu” and “Fudou no yu,” were opened to the public in Ishinomaki on August 22.

Until now, the Japanese Self Defense Forces had been providing bathing facilities. In conjunction with their withdrawal from the area at the end of July, however, the bathing facilities were also removed. While general infrastructure had been continually improving since the disaster and less and less people are using the bathing facilities, there are still people living in the evacuation centers and in areas where infrastructure has not yet been restored.

After much discussion with city hall officials, the Ishinomaki Disaster Recovery Assistance Council Inc. (IDRAC), of which Peace Boat is also a member, took on the job of constructing the baths. It was decided that Peace Boat will be in charge of the operation of the baths after opening.

The public baths opened this week are “Kizuna no yu” in the Tachi area of Ishinomaki, located in the parking lot behind Ai Plaza, and “Fudou no yu,” also in a parking lot in Fudou town. Today’s report is about the operational test of “Kizuna no yu.” As part of the test and pre-open event, Peace Boat volunteers were invited to try the bath.

The outside of the bath facility. There are two large tents next to the road.

If you follow the corridor to the rear left you will come across the reception area where a volunteer will greet you with a smile (if they happen to not be smiling then please let us know!)

After checking in at the front table, you can go inside. It’s exciting to anticipate what we are about to see inside.

…And around the corner is the changing room.

Just like a regular public bath, there are even proper shelves with baskets to put one’s clothes in whilst bathing. And the big surprise is the fan! After a hot bath people can cool off with the breeze from the fan.

This is the bathtub!

The area for washing your body before getting into the bath is next to the bath and one uses hot water directly from the bath to wash.
As I take photographs, the volunteers who have been waiting in anticipation to try it gather at the entrance, most of whom have been working hard to build the bath.

Volunteers who had finished working for the day continued to gather. Everyone looks like they are enjoying the bath!

Including also Volunteer Coordinator Ueshima Yasuhiro!

Afterwards, everyone discussed their opinions of the bath, giving suggestions of what could be changed or improved to Hirotani, the volunteer who will be in charge of operating the bath from now on.

These suggestions were given keeping in mind that people from all generations will be using the bath. In Japan, public baths have traditionally been a vital part of the community not only for the bathing facilities, but also as a place of communal gathering and communication.
Once the bath has officially opened it will be solely for the use of local residents and so volunteer staff will not be able to use the bath – thus the volunteers who got to try the bath today were very lucky.

There were lots of great ideas put forward about the bath. We will work hard to continue to improve it in various ways from here on, in the hope that many local people will use the bath and find some relaxation and comfort there.