Activity report No.178

Following is a report from our staff, Tomoko Masujima.
She stayed in Iwate Pref. from Jun.26 to Jul. 9.

Tono Story -- A bond by makenai-zou , June 30 (Sat)
We visited Kiri-kiri district in Otsuchi-cho today. Destroyed land was extended in front of us. Some residents had the earthquake when they stayed at home (and they still live such in a mess). Originally, the word “Kiri-kiri” means “white beach” in Ainu (the people native to northern Japan) language. “Kiri-kiri” is also well known as the title of Hisashi Inoue’s novel, “Kiri-kiri People” in Japan, but the white beach was lost now, and only the broken seawalls were remained there.

On a stone monument of Kompira-shrine, we found below cautions inscribed.
- Be careful for tsunami when you have earthquake
- Run away to a higher place when tsunami comes
- Don’t live in a danger area

They are literally the words of wisdom from our ancestors, and we have to hand it down to our posterity. We never should repeat the same mistakes.

Soon after arriving in Iwate, we visited the people who met the disaster when they were at home. They share their tsunami experience when they see each other, just like Kobe people do. Even after such a long time of 17 years, Kobe people often talk about Hanshi-Awaji Great Earthquake among them and share their hard experiences. Here in Kiri-kiri, they could never stop talking of the tsunami.

“Once we begin to talk about tsunami, there is no break,” said one of the residents. She also told us, “If you meet an earthquake, you really have to run away to the higher grounds. Also you should always pack up your valuables so that you can escape as soon as possible with it.” Another woman said, “When people in western Japan were suffering from Hanshin-Awaji Great Earthquake, I could do nothing but offered some commodities. Thinking back of that time however, those goods were what I suppose to throw away. It was a shame that I really didn’t think of suffering people. Now we’ve got a lot of supports from the volunteers and I cannot thank them enough.”

We tend to think a disaster as “the unexpected happening”, but it is not. Besides it highlights invisible problems we never face up in our daily lives. To break through such difficulties, we need to build up good relationship with our neighbors or friends, helping each other and enabling our creativity. “A friend in need is a friend in deed.”

When we asked about “restoration” to one of the residents, he replied in a scowling face, “Very easily, people say we are recovering from the disaster, but as you see, the seawalls are still remained broken down just as the same when the tsunami came, and nothing is done for our land, where our houses were swept away. We never feel that we are on the restoration.”

One makena-zou maker said sadly, “The other day, we discussed about the restoration of this town. The topics there were like to move to the higher places, or to sell our land and so on, but actually, I can’t imagine myself dong such things. When some unbearable things happen, all I can do is to go the place where my house stood, doing nothing but just sitting on the foundation. I don’t feel like selling my land indeed.” She continued, “I ran away from my house after the tsunami came, and when I looked back on the way, I saw a big wave washed my house away.”
“Mental restoration” of the victims has just started. Some of them even cannot take their first steps. Until they can make a new start, we will just stay beside them.

Even in such hard situation, they keep on making elephants, because the waves of “makenai-zou” are spreading out to the other stricken areas or even to the overseas. “It is our pleasure if our elephants become any help for others,” one of the makers said with a smile.

In the afternoon on that day, we visited temp houses in Kiri-kiri district. Actually we had come here for a several times, and we found some residents made makenai-zou for the first time in a while. With a support from an expert, one of them said, “I will practice again to make makenai-zou so that I can give it to my grandchild.” Another woman who is good at sewing brought her works, cute turtle-shaped wool straps!

An elephant’s face was being made. While making its nose, a singing voice flew, “Oh little elephant, little elephant, why is your nose so long?”

Finally the makenai-zou was completed. At the last stage to put the elephants’ eyes on the faces, every maker smiles. It is a wonder for us why making makenai-sou brings a natural smile to everybody.

Lastly, we had a gorgeous dinner! Gathering sea urchin eggs has just started in this area. Of course the re-start is not easy, but they formed a fisherman’s union and are forwarding their project step by step. The dinner we had was a result of their great efforts, and the sea urchin was so creamy and tasty that we never can have in a big city. We really enjoyed it !!

Tomoko Masujima

晴れA short message from makenai-sou
A year and 3 months have passed since I had the disaster. Sometime I still feel lonely or disappointed, but my days became brighter since I began to make makenai-zou. Thank you very much!

(2012/4/27, female (70’s), Tsutsumigaoka temp house in Otsuchi-cho)

posted by NGO Collaboration Center for Hanshin Quake Rehabilitation at 10:47| Comment(0) | Activity report | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


Activity Report No.160

Here is a report from our staff, Tomoko Masujima. She is working for one of Iwate local groups, “Tono Magokoro Net (Tono Hearty Net)” since end of May 2011.

Tono story – A bond by makenai-zou, March 7, 2012
We had spring snow in Tono today. It was very cold everywhere in Japan today, and here in Tono too, the thermometer showed -19℃. But warm spring comes after such hard days. Every March when it snows heavily, the people feel that spring will be here before long.

The other day, we went to Nochinoiri temp houses in Ofunato-shi. When we visited there, the houses were in lively mood having volunteers from Kobe Univ., health check staff members from Iwate prefectural office, and “makenai-zou” staff. As “makenai-zou” got to be known to everybody here, the number of its maker has been increasing and reached to 8 in Nochinoiri temp houses.

“When I take a nap over a heater”, one makenai-zou maker told us, “my husband asks me “Why don’t you do makenai-zou today?””. “You always work with your sewing machine, or make patchwork other than makenai-zou, but still he asks you so?” That was our simple question. Then she replied, “To him probably, I appear to enjoy makenai−zou. Actually it is fun because every elephant has different face.” Indeed even if one person makes several makenai-zou in the same way, the finished elephants are all different. Please watch their faces carefully.

Another woman said, “Now we have nothing to do outside because we lost our fields. Having said that, staying only at my house is so boring, but it is good to do some handwork”. “Just watching TV is worthless, but time flies when I make “makenai-zou”. All of the members are fascinated by the elephants.

Later on that day, we visited one welfare commissioner who takes care of our makenai-zou activities in Ofunato-shi to deliver our goods. Then we got a letter from her.
“Thank you for visiting us from far Kobe the other day to teach us how to make makenai-zou. Making elephants give us peaceful and gentle minds. We really appreciate your support. It is so cold here in Iwate, not like in Kobe, so please don’t catch cold.”

She, Ms. H used to run a seaweed processing factory which was flown by the tsunami of Mar. 11, but she restarted it just recently. The factory is located in Hosono, Matsuzaki district where the land sank by the tsunami. Now its port is elevated with a little concrete.

Last week they had live broadcast of Kansai (=Western Japan) TV in Gonoiri temp houses. Their “makenai-zou” activities and “foot bath” by the volunteer were introduced in evening news show, and the makers appeared in it. Some residents told about this news show to their relatives in western Japan in advance, so they could let to know to those who watched TV that all the residents were all fine.

After the live broadcast, I noticed I had got a phone call from one of makenai-zou makers in Kobe. I called her back soon and found that she keeps on making elephants even after 17 years when she moved to revived house from temp one in Kobe. Right after one of her friends told her that “makenai-zou” was on TV, she turned it on and found us in Tohoku. “I’m so happy to see the elephants on TV,” she said, “that I couldn’t help but just called you”. I haven’t talked to her for a long time, but her voice was unchanged and cheerful, saying “you look fine”. Certainly it is a relay from Kobe to Tohoku.

晴れ A short message from makenai-zou
My imagination swells out when I make makenai-zou. Each one has different face but they were made with the same whole hearts of us, so please love them!
posted by NGO Collaboration Center for Hanshin Quake Rehabilitation at 00:00| Comment(0) | Activity report | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


Activity Report No.159

Here is a report from our Tomoko Masujima. She is working for one of Iwate local groups, “Tono Magokoro Net (Tono Hearty Net)” since end of May 2011.

Tono story – A bond by makenai-zou , February 26 (Sun)
Today’s heavy snow in Tono marked this year’s new record. It has been snowing since this morning and lay down over 30cm in a very short period. They raked the snow off the roads, but soon it covered everywhere.

The other day, we visited Ryori district in Ofunato-shi for the first time. It is a small fishing village, but spreads out in wide range having some communities in it. In Ryori Shirahama, located next to where we visited, they once had 38.2m of tsunami caused by Meiji Sanriku Great Tsunami in 1896. Actually, it is the highest tsunami ever recorded in Japan. In Great East Japan Earthquake too, it is assumed they had around 25m tsunami, but most of the residents were safe. They learned a lot from their ancestor’s experience and had been lived in hills or high grounds.

Along seawalls, we saw many signs created on the lessons fro m the past. We also found fresh wounds on the seaside.

We visited Kuro-tsuchida temp houses (90 households), built on the high grounds of Ryori junior high school, to hold “makenai-zou” class.

On that day, our old Kobe friend Ms. Iwao (a member of our former group “Chibikuro Support Group) visited us from Nagoya to join our class. It takes more than 4 hours from Nagoya to Iwate, but that was her 2nd time to visit there. Because it was our first class there, we had quite a lot of (almost 20) participants.

The participants were all used to sewing and worked for making makenai-zou even before we explained how to make it. As a result, some of them went into the wrong process. Still everyone enjoyed sewing and said, “Oh, something is wrong…”, “How do you clear this point?”, “How is this one?”, “Still strange…”, “Hey, you have to follow the instruction”.

They went on sewing. We smelled of fish from their hands. They told us that they could get fresh wakame seaweeds for the first time after the tsunami. Nature brings us both fear and blessing. The wakame seaweeds gathered in this area are so delicious and there are many recipes of it. Some enjoys shabushabu (to boil in a very short period), or some cooks it with soy-sauce and ginger. They say no part of it can be disposed. We saw wakame everywhere. And wherever we visited, people served us delicious dished using their brag wakame seaweeds.

While we were chatting….
Makenai-zou’s nose was done…

the face was ready…

And when the eyes were put on the face….

Then “makenai-zou” completed! That was the participants’ first trial, but they made up various and cute elephants.

After the makenai-zou class, we sent painting books to Ryori junior high school. The books were created by Tibetan children living in Qinghai Province in China. Originally they were made by Malaysian college students and Tibetan children to support Qinghai Province people damaged by the Great Earthquake in April 2010. This time the books were sent to Tohoku through CODE (Citizens towards Overseas Disaster Emergency), NGO in Kobe. (Both their office and ours are located at the same place. Not only supporting us financially, but they provide talented people to us.)

We also had great presents of hand-made floor cloth from Nigawa Gakuin high school students. The high school was in Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo Pref., one of the biggest damaged areas by the Hanshin Awaji Great Earthquake. The floor cloths were sent to Ryori elementary school whose playground was covered with rubbles. Also a part of their school building was flood. Now some rubbles are being taken away but they are still found in everywhere in the ground. The land is being leveled, but it is soon washed off by wind and rain. Though the students were on the way to their home when the earthquake happened, all of them were recalled by the teachers and from the school, they ran away to the higher places to survive.
Along with the floor cloths, the letters from Nigawa Gakuin high school students were sent to Ryori elementary school.

One of our regular supporter, Ms. H of Takonoura temp house, introduced us Ryori junior high school and elementary school as the most suitable places for the donation of the painting books and floor clothes. Ms. H’s house is safe, but because of the tsunami, she lost her job of wakame seaweeds’ foods. Now she dedicatges her time to support us as well as making makenai-zou.

We would like to thank all of you who are supporting us. Your borderless warm hearts helped Tohoku people a lot. Also mutual supports are spreading out towards in Tohoku. Step by step, Tohoku is recovering.

Tomoko Masujima

晴れA short message from “makenai-zou”
It was my pleasure to meet makenai-zou. My mind is always set in peace when I see its face. So far I made a quite a lot, but I’m always surprised that they all have different faces. Each of them makes me happy. Making makenai-zou is a good exercise for my hands and brain, so I try to make 2 pieces a day. I will go forward with makenai-zou!!

(2012/1/9, female (60’s), Gono-iri temp house in Ofunato-shi)
posted by NGO Collaboration Center for Hanshin Quake Rehabilitation at 16:09| Comment(0) | Activity report | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする




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