Ishinomaki Youth Ambassadors Onboard the 80th Global Voyage
This year, Peace Boat celebrates its 30th anniversary. As part of our 80th Global Voyage around-the-world itinerary, Peace Boat’s vessel the “Ocean Dream” will call in at the port of Ishinomaki in October for the first time in its history.
The decision for our ship to call in at Ishinomaki was made after the city decided that revitalizing the port for both commercial and tourism purposes was crucial to the city’s recovery.It also marks 400 years since the first ever diplomatic and trade mission from Japan to Europe, which set sail from Ishinomaki.
We believe that it is essential for the memories, experiences and lessons learnt from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami to be passed on and shared with audiences both in Japan and within the wider international community.
In order to ensure that the disaster does not fade from our collective memories, the Peace Boat Center in Ishinomaki conducted a search to find two “Ishinomaki Youth Ambassadors” to join the 80th Global Voyage.
These two ambassadors, who were selected in June, will be drawing from their first-hand experiences to share their stories and the lessons they learnt with the 800 passengers onboard, as well as audiences at many ports-of-call around the world.
Shuhei is a native of Onagawa town, Miyagi prefecture. He belongs to the grass-roots artists’ organization, Onagawa Art Guild Company, which is based in the main shopping district of Onagawa town.
He specializes in designing printed materials and also enjoys making street art under the pseudonym ‘D-BONS’.
At the time of the disaster, Shuhei was working in a factory and evacuated to a park nearby. Making it to high ground just in time, he managed to escape the tsunami; however, he saw many fellow townspeople perish with his own eyes.
In the weeks and months after, he and his friends were able to assist in the emergency assistance operations such as distributing emergency supplies and hot meals to those who had been affected. He also played a hand in the organization of various community-based events aimed at bringing youngsters together in the wake of the disaster.
Shuhei applied to be an Ishinomaki Youth Ambassador because he has the passion to spread positive messages from Tohoku to the world.
He wants not only to express gratitude for the international community’s support, but also to inform people about the present conditions on the ground and to talk about the important things he learnt while living through one of the greatest disasters in recent history.
Shuhei believes that the key to recovery is people. The bonds between individuals, both in Japan and around the world, are what will ensure the long-term and sustainable recovery of the Tohoku region.
To forge these relationships between people in Onagawa and in other countries, Shuhei is planning an art project where he spreads art work from Ishinomaki to audiences around the world.
Sayaka, from Ishinomaki City, has been working her regular day-job at a company while pursuing her dream career in theatre.
When the earthquake struck, she was at her workplace and escaped to the highest point in the building. She watched as her hometown was wiped out by the onslaught of waves and saw the familiar landscape change instantly into something unrecognizable.
Living through this gave her a new perspective; “At the end of the day, material wealth is nothing. What is important is to live, to survive,” she says.
She wants to circumnavigate the globe to show off her hometown and bring Ishinomaki to the world. She wants to rebuild the town and the community better and stronger than before, and she believes that travelling aboard Peace Boat, meeting different people and having new encounters can only strengthen her resolve and help bring her a new perspective.
She is currently a member of a local theatre group, where she has a number of roles, not only as an actress, but also as a script-writer and public relations officer.
She plans to host a number of acting work-shops and art projects while onboard.
Peace Boat’s 80th Global Voyage, set sail on July 18th from Yokohama and will be stopping at 20 ports in 19 countries along with 800 passengers.
The ship is scheduled to arrive in Ishinomaki as the voyage’s penultimate port-of-call in October.