The local community in Ishinomaki has been deeply moved by volunteers’ desire to help, and the experiences shared by volunteers and the local community will be remembered long after the work in Ishinomaki is over. The presence of international volunteers in Ishinomaki is also vital: it shows survivors that the world has not forgotten about them. As volunteer numbers dwindle, please join us and give the local people your hands in solidarity.
On September 11, 6 months after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami caused unprecedented damage, 10 high school students from Tochigi Prefecture came to help with Peace Boat’s debris removing volunteer activities.
One of the students said, “I am sure that I will happily remember this day one day when I eat fish that are caught in Miyagi. That’s what I am looking forward to!”
We hope that the students tell their family and friends from school about their experiences after returning home and that these experiences become something that they will benefit from in the future.
Taylor Anderson was an assistant English teacher from the United States who lost her life in the tsunami. Taylor was teaching English at 7 schools in Ishinomaki city, a place she was known to love. Four members of her family came to Ishinomaki on September 8.
Peace Boat was contacted by Taylor’s family because they wanted to volunteer. As a result, the Anderson family participated in Peace Boat’s clean-up activities in the Shintate region.
We interviewed Taylor’s father Andy about his visit to Japan and his motivation for joining the volunteer activities.
On September 9 approximately 30 volunteers participated in the Festival at Hayamahime Temple Festival Temple, which is located in the Oginohama area of the Oshika Peninsula. Volunteers participated in the festival because they have been assisting with debris removal and work in the fishing industry in the Ogihama area for a long time, as well as helping with cleaning activities around the temple in the lead-up to the festival.
This was a wonderful day which no doubt gave both the local residents and volunteers lots of energy and inspiration to continue on with from here.
Over the past two weeks the number of visitors to the public baths, “Kizuna no yu” and “Fudou no yu” that were opened to the public on August 22 exceeded 3500 people!
In conjunction with the conclusion of the bathing facilities that had been provided by the Japanese Self Defense Forces, and upon consultation with local city hall officials, public baths were constructed by the Ishinomaki Disaster Recovery Assistance Council Inc, with Peace Boat in charge of the operation of the baths including changing the water, cleaning and reception duties. Many people use the baths everyday, most of whom are living in evacuation centers or in the surrounding areas where infrastructure has not yet been restored.
The main activity of volunteers in Ishinomaki, the city severely damaged by the tsunami, was clearing mud and cleaning the area.
To date, Peace Boat has completed the cleaning of over 1,200 locations in Ishinomaki, including homes, shops, schools and other public institutions, drains, cemeteries and so on.
This post features photographs showing the differences in scenes of April 10 (one month after the tsunami) and August 30, thanks to the cleanup work of volunteers participating in efforts including the Machinaka Smile project.
A moment of silence – marking six months since the disaster struck.
At 2:46pm on September 11, six months since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, all volunteers and staff together held a moment of silence to pray for the souls of those who lost their lives.
The members’ dedication to both remembrance and recovery became even stronger as they gazed upon the now calm ocean.
We will continue to work together with the people of Ishinomaki one step at a time.
Peace Boat first got to know Mr Nakazato on July 2 at the Ogatsu Recovery Market. He is a fisherman in Funakoshi, a small village with a population of 320 before the disaster. In the tsunami most homes and storehouses were washed away, but miraculously Mr Nakazato’s property survived. That’s why he puts himself last and is working tirelessly to help his fellow fishermen.
Last month, we received a message from Mr Nishimura, the sub-temple master of Kosai Temple in Sumiyoshi town in Ishinomaki to all the volunteers who had participated in mud removal and cleaning activities from all over Japan as well as overseas. As a result of the volunteer work, they were able to hold a joint memorial service for the Obon festival and many flowers were placed on the cleaned graves (Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honour the deceased spirits of one’s ancestors).