Oct 2011


The Orahono Recovery Festival – Ishinomaki, Onagawa, Higashi Matsushima

On Sunday October 16, the “Orahono Recovery Festival – Ishinomaki, Onagawa, Higashi Matsushima” was held at the Ishinomaki City General Sports Park. Many people attended and enjoyed the lively booths and performances.

Preparations for the festival began around one month before. The day prior to the event, the skies were full of rain clouds. Organisers planned to set up the tents and so on on October 5, however this was not possible due to rain, and for a while it seemed that even holding the event might be in danger. However, thanks to the dedicated work of many people hoping to make a success of the event, as a step towards recovery, the weather cleared up from a rainy morning to a beautiful sunny sky – a small miracle to start the day!

Volunteers working hard to clear the puddles collected the day before.

The festival venue was divided into booths, event stages, and children’s areas. Fresh fish and produce from Ishinomaki, Onagawa and Higashi Matsushima was introduced, with a total of 58 stalls – 21 of which sold food and drink, and 37 other items.

Ishinomaki is well known for its “yakisoba” fried noodles, so this booth was one of the most popular – with a queue at the front all day!

The brown-coloured noodles are quite unusual, and everyone enjoys breaking up the fried egg on top to mix in together. Please try this next time you are in Ishinomaki!

Saury (“sanma”) from the Sanriku area is another popular local delicacy. In season during autumn, the smell of the grilling fish drew many people to the stall.

The ladies of Funakoshi sell their accessories handmade from Ogatsu stone, in support of Peace Boat. Lively voices were going back and forth across the booth all day.

Many people enjoyed eating a lot, buying a lot, and taking a lot of souvenirs home!


The next photos show the events happening on the specially set up stage. With many local artists and groups performing, there was a great variety throughout the whole festival.

MC for the events stage was comedian Fukushima Katsushige, now a local celebrity in Ishinomaki. Here he is shown leading people in a stretch during the opening ceremony.

The Ogatsu drumming team performed an intense and exciting show.

Well-known singer Yagami Junko was a special guest for the day, performing her hit “Sky Blue Rain.”

The “shovellors” performed “shamisen” style traditional music, replacing the instrument with shovels and bottle openers!

The “Ishinomaki Hula Girls!” This group was formed by people living in evacuation centres in the Watanoha district of Ishinomaki, as a way to bring some positive vibes into their everyday lives.

And a special secret guest for the day was popular musician Naoto Inti Raymi!

Naoto Inti Raymi had visited Ishinomaki previously to volunteer in mud clearing efforts. His performances was filled with vitality, bringing the whole crowd to their feet to sing and dance together.

This is the racing course set up in the children’s area. All day you could hear children enjoying the games with balls, bamboo dragonflies, kites, bubbles and more.

Peace Boat organised a corner where volunteers drew portraits onto paper fans, as well as helping with operations of the event, recycling programmes and more.

“Oraho no” translates to “Our” in the local dialect. The day was blessed with beautiful weather, and around 8,000 people joined the events including Mayor Kameyama Hiroshi of Ishinomaki, as a step taken together towards recovery. This was the first large event to be held by all three cities together in the aftermath of the disaster. When the Kawabiraki Festival was held 2 and a half months ago, volunteers were involved in coordinating much of the preparations and operations. Yet this time, this was reversed and volunteers served only a small role, with the local community taking full initiative. While much time is still needed for life to return to as it was before the disaster, the Orahono festival really demonstrated that energy, courage, and life is returning more and more to the area. The efforts of the local community to coordinate this festival are certainly going to play a great role in encouraging recovery efforts.

This group photo was taken of the organising committee and volunteers after the day’s clean up was finished.



All photos by Nakamura Mitsutoshi