The Ishinomaki Kawabiraki (“River Opening”) Festival held on July 31 and August 1. Alongside the people of Ishinomaki, many volunteers including people who came from afar and many who have been helping with the relief operations in Ishinomaki together participated in a variety of events and activities that were held during the 2-day festival. It was very much a home-made festival, with each part carefully and lovingly prepared in the short preparation period.
49 Junior High School students from Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture who travelled through Asia onboard Peace Boat will return to Japan tomorrow (August 4, 2011). The youth ambassadors, from 6 different schools in Minamisoma will return to Japan having completed a 13-day journey to Viet Nam, Singapore and Sri Lanka since their departure from Minamisoma on July 23. A press conference will be held at Narita on August 4.
The affected areas will soon observe the first Obon holiday period since the March 11 disaster. (Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honour the deceased spirits of one’s ancestors.)
In respect of the feelings of the local community, Peace Boat has decide not to organise volunteer activities during the August 13 – 16 Obon period. We apologise for the inconvenience for those who were planning to volunteer during their own Obon holidays, however thank you very much for your understanding and cooperation at this important time for the people of Tohoku.
Jeremy Browne MP, Minister of State at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and British Ambassador to Japan David Warren visited Ishinomaki on July 10.
After meeting with officials at the City Hall, Mr Browne then visited Peace Boat’s Central Kitchen in Ishinomaki together with Mayor Kameyama Hiroshi and Ito Shuki, Chair of the Ishinomaki Disaster Recovery Assistance Council (IDRAC) in order to see the actual activities to support survivors and the recovery of the affected areas.
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On this day, our blog reporter did was conducting office work rather than being at the field work sites, so instead of a report about the Peace Boat led relief activities, we are posting several photographs showing the scenery around Ishinomaki at sunset.
We hope these photos will serve to remind everyone of the beauty of Tohoku, and the strength of its people now working to revive their region!
Peace Boat volunteers have been assisting in the salvage and repair of ropes, buoys etc in the fishing ports from earlier, and from today also were involved in helping with oyster farming. Two days earlier, as volunteers had been helping together to salvage fishing items, the local fishermen asked Peace Boat if volunteers could also assist them – which was how they came to be involved today. Of course, it was the first time for all volunteers to be involved in oyster farming, so they were full of both nerves and excitement.
A new poetry book by Welsh writer based in Yokohama Jon Mitchell has been published this week, with all sales going to support Peace Boat’s ongoing relief efforts in Tohoku. “march and after – poems from tsunami country” – chronicles life in Japan following the 3.11 earthquake, and is available in limited edition hard cover and e-book version also. See here for more details.
Peace Boat, in cooperation with the Minamisoma Parents and Teachers Association (PTA), has developed a program that would support the youth and parents of the town in their desire to keep their children safe over the summer holiday period. The Fukushima Youth Voyage is a two-week opportunity for 49 Junior High School students from six different schools in Minamisoma to spend the summer in a healthy, dynamic and radiation-free environment, where they can learn new skills, enjoy new experiences and gain a fresh perspective on the future, while enabling their parents to focus on rebuilding their community.
“After I volunteered in Ishinomaki, I wanted to make sure it didn’t just end as a ‘good experience’ and I wanted to keep doing as much as I can even back in Tokyo.”
After volunteering in Ishinomaki between May 20-28, Mr Sekine Masataka is now active volunteering to support the relief efforts from Tokyo.
Many people felt that they wanted to contribute something immediately after the earthquake, and yet many people are have not been able to directly go to the disaster affected areas due to work duties or physical capacity. Peace Boat has many opportunities for such people to support the activities even from in Tokyo.
A volunteer from the UK has launched a project to sell tshirts designed by the children of Minato Primary School in Ishinomaki, with all funds going to Peace Boat’s disaster relief activities – see more details here.