My fishing village experience!
“Oraho’s experience” (“my experience” in Tohoku dialect) is a new volunteer programme launched in 2012, in which participants can interact more with local people in the disaster affected areas by talking, eating, and sleeping together, not just working together. Peace Boat initiated this programme in the hope that participants can gain a rich experience based on direct personal connections with the local community, and that this programme can bring people closer together and inspire more ideas for the future.
This article features an interview with Komori Shizu, a participant in the 2nd program held in Oginohama, and local fisherman Fushimi Kaoru who hosted her.
Q: Had you been involved in any emergency relief volunteer activities before?
A: I participated in a Peace Boat volunteer project held for a short period of time (a weekend) and helped cleaning up, moving houses, and fishery work. Also I was involved in an activity organized by university volunteers in Kesennuma.
Q: Could you tell me why you decided to participate in “Oraho no hama taiken (My fishing village experience)?
A: My friend introduced me to it, but actually I had been wanting to return to Ishinomaki; my last volunteer experience there left a strong impression on me. Also, I wanted to have a little break from job hunting (laugh).
Q: How was the programme?
A: I expected more work based on my previous experience of helping the fishing industry, but this time it was more like a school excursion, put simply. I listened to fishermen’s stories about the disaster and their current situation. I felt and thought a lot… We also cooked seaweed and oysters together and talked a lot with them. It was a lot of fun. If I didn’t join this programme, I don’t think I would be able to imagine what kind of people live in the Oginohama area, what challenges they face, what the good things about the area are… After joining the programme, I have more ideas about what I can do and how I can get involved.
Anyhow, I would like everybody to try this program. I had never been involved in fishing or beaches before, but I was overwhelmed by their warm hospitality. I am really glad that I participated in it. I would definitely like to develop our relationship that I have built this time even more in the future.
=== Next, a fisherman from Oginohama.
Oginohama is believed to be a place where oyster farming originated, and it seems to be one of the origins of Tanekaki (Oyster baby) farming. The whole area of the Oshika Peninsula went on to introduce the Oginohama farming technique in the region. The oysters cultivated around the Sanriku coast contain rich minerals and are very delicious!
Q: How was your interaction with participants of the “Oraho no hama taiken” (My fishing village experience)?
A: It is good that people are interested in the fishing village. I was happy to get a chance to hear the real voice of people from outside. Not many people have actually visited the area before. Having people from outside can influence the attitudes and opinion of the local people. Eating caught fish together was also good in that we could see the faces of the consumers together.
Q: Do you have a message for people who would like to visit the area?
A: I would like people who don’t know anything about the bay area to understand that we live within nature. It will take a lot of time to recover our harvest. The issue of radiation is a concern, however we hope that many people will be able to enjoy eating our fish and visiting the beach.
※ Oginohama’s cooperative oyster farm, which had been built and supported by the community, was hugely damaged by the disaster. Because their oyster shipping factory was destroyed, the community decided to take on wakame seaweed farming as a new industry. Funds collected by participants in this programme will be donated to support the recovery of the farming industry in Oginohama, including reconstruction of the destroyed oyster shipping factory.