Moriya Fruit Shop Update
The Moriya Fruit and Vegetable Store was the first of the shops in Ishinomaki to reopen on the central street of Ishinomaki, on April 13 – just over one month after the disaster (see previous report here). This report shows the situation of the shop now, one and a half months since its reopening.
“We have to make some deliveries to Ajishima, so would you mind coming back again in the late afternoon?”
When we visited the shop around noon, the owner asked this of us. Ajishima is an island off the coast of Ishinomaki City, around one hour from the town centre. Watching the shop full of customers, and the owner busy preparing for deliveries to Ajishima, it is encouraging to see this hope for recovery.
When we returned at around 5pm, the owner came out smiling to welcome us, apologising for being busy earlier.
The items for sale at Moriya Fruit and Vegetable Store were double that of the time of reopening, and now around 100 customers visit the shop each day. Compared to the early days in April, the shop has now returned to what seems to be a typical greengrocers, both in terms of items for sale and the appearance itself. As well as the fruit, vegetable and processed foods on display, the owners are making efforts to respond to other requests from the local community. On the day of reopening, the elder residents of the town were the most happy to have the shop functioning again. There were no other stores operating at the time, and older members of the community in particular had no means to travel by car to shops in neighbouring towns.
Laughing, the owner said “while I should be the one thanking everyone for coming and shopping with us, people actually thanked me for selling them things!”
As the storage and refrigeration areas of the store were destroyed by the tsunami, it is not possible to leave merchandise in the store. Instead, Moriya just brings in enough items for one or two days at a time. However, while orders until now including the deliveries to Ajishima were just from individuals, gradually a small number of other shops and restaurants are starting to reopen, and Moriya is receiving some wholesale orders now also. Although progress is slow, from this the small steps towards recovery are clear.
Yet, there are of course many continuing worries. One is flooding through typhoons or high tides. Even at the moment, the small gutters near the side of the shop are only 15 cm from overflowing.
A long-term concern is that this district of Ishinomaki is a potential target for “planned reconstruction.” This would mean that rebuilding businesses and buildings would require government-issued permits. Thus, even if people would like to rebuild and reopen their destroyed shops, time is required for the permits to be issued. Within the current situation where only a limited number of shops are running, waiting for such bureaucratic procedures will certainly have a negative impact on the city’s economic recovery. According to the owners, this is an issue relating to all districts of the city, and so the local commerce association is currently discussing how to deal with this situation.
Even during the brief time we spent in the store today, around ten customers visited, showing how important this shop is for those living nearby. Of course the situation is still extremely difficult, yet the existence of such stores as Moriya continuing to open and provide a service to the local community is giving an important hope for recovery. Peace Boat will continue to assist with clearup and recovery efforts in order to support the activities of shops such as the Moriya Fruit and Vegetable Store.