2nd Tohoku Trip Completion Report
2 years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred. We visited Tohoku again.
DAY1: 26 March
We would like to share with you, about the 2nd Tohoku Trip.In March 26 – 30, 2013, we, a group of 12 EIC kids, 8 Camp Leaders and 5 staff, total of 25 people, visited the Tohoku area. Some participants were able to join us for the 2nd time.
2 years have passed, since the massive earthquake hit the north-eastern part of Japan. The degree and extent of damage were enormous, with most of the damage being caused by the tsunami.
We would like to present to you, what we did, what we learned and how we felt, and what we can do from now on, to help, and also the message that we want to pass on with all of you.
We went to MIyako-city and Yamada-town in Iwate, Rikuzentakata-city, Minamisanriku-town and Matsushima in Miyagi.The aim of 2nd Tohoku Trip is to expand the view and perspective by directly going to the real location and experiencing the reality, to learn through communicating with local people, to share to as many people as possible in English about what we learned, to think about what we can do. I participated in 2nd Tohoku Trip to know what changed in comparison with one year ago.
DAY2: 27 March
I visited the temporary house and I was impressed by people living there. They didn’t show us any depressed feelings though the damage of the earthquake still remains.
One boy gave me a strong impact. He used to be in Yamada town, but since his house was destroyed by the Tsunami, he was forced to move to the temporary house. But even though the environment changed, he kept chasing after his hobbies. When he talked about NBA and played basketball, he looked very excited. It made me forget me about the fact that he changed his basketball team. He also kept collecting fortune stones. He even started new activities like swimming and instruments as hobbies.
From his attitude, I learned that even after hard situations, it is important to have hope and chase one’s own dream.
The temporary house I saw on TV looked uncomfortable. But seeing the people living there made me think that my idea was wrong. I’m now a university student. I would love to make other people move toward to achieve their dreams in the near future.
We went to Miyako 2nd junior high school temporary house. There were 5 students and 10 old people. So, in total, 15 people. Everyone live in a small place but all of them were very cooperative. I felt everyone has very very strong spirit. I was relieved because everyone was caring and helping each other. Let’s think our life is also important at every moment.
When we visited Yamada Town, we met Ms. Sato. She told us about Tsunami experience. She was saved because she didn’t give up and got into a car. Tsunami came and her car window was broken. She went out of the window and then grasped tightly a ceiling. So, she was saved. If she gave up, her life might have been dangerous. On that time, I realized life is very very important. I want to value my life forever. So, everyone, please value your life, too! Let’s do our best for Tohoku people!
Among various activities that we did in the second day of Tohoku trip, I personally thought listening to Anna’s story about her experience of Tsunami was the most impressive. According to her, tsunami deprived many things from her and people living in Miyako city, including their family, house, and even basic needs. Because most of people had lost their places and foods, they could have only one onigiri for each meal in evacuation sites. Even though it must have been such a heartbreaking moment for all of them, I was very impressed by their response to the tragedy and their way of dealing with their grief. Instead of running away from the reality, they chose to stay in their town to keep their dreams and help each other. Also she mentioned they were able to keep hearts full of hopes because of many temporary places to study and learn, and in that moment I realized that the opportunity of learning can encourage people to develop their dreams in further.
Just like this girl said, all of the people in Miyako city have been trying their best to keep their town and memories of tsunami. And I believe there are many various ways that we can do for them. Even though they are small steps, they will be able to improve their lives and develop not only Japan, but also the world in the future.
Day 2 was a long day. We met people from temporary house. I got soba and coffee when we visited there. They are having a good time.
Later we met Anna chan when we were going to Yamada town. She was brave enough to open up herself, to talk about the dreadful experiences that she had on 3.11. She explained how she went home from the school and then later for two weeks they had no water and food supply. This reminded me of a rural village in my country. I never expected this kind of situation in Japan.
However she did not complain, she did not give up. She was happy enough with the things she had at that time to survive. She is happy to tell these experiences as she wants many people to know about this story. So people would not forget about 3.11.
This tsunami devastated their houses, valuables, but not their hope. I still remember the way she spoke, her guts, never giving attitude and true spirit to rebuild the city.I think people like Anna chan, sato sensei, I think these are the reasons why Yamada city is shining even now after this dreadful tragic.So let us give them a big applause for their great courage.
DAY3: 28 March
We went to Miyako city. Miyako city is not revived. For fisherman, water gate was a big obstacle. And water gate was manual not automatic. When Tsunami came, fire department opened and closed water gate. But fire department man died. So, I think emergency drill is important. I don’t forget 3.11.
In 1933 a tsunami struck the village of Taro. It consumed the lives of many. People remembered and shared, making a monument. 78 years later, yet a larger wave overwhelmed the same village washing away everything.
2 years have passed and the village stands now the proofs of the people will courage and cooperation. They never forgot but they look to the future with hope and with gratitude, never forgetting to share with us, what they experienced.
There is a great lesson to be learned from this. We love those close to us. We care about them. We care about their well-being. We care about their safety. Unfortunately, we can not control nature when she shows us her fangs. But we can do what we can do, that is to cooperate, to support as one, and be mindful. And as importantly, to appreciate what is given to us.
I will share to those around me. And I ask you to remember, or hear and feel with your own senses and to realize that.
Please look at this hotel’s wall. This is ‘Taro Kanko hotel’. This hotel was like this picture because wall is weak. And I watched Mr. Matsumoto’s video from that hotel. It had the situation of Tsunami. I have seen it once on TV before. But it was very scary because I listened to local people’s story, too. However, he told a heartbreaking story. I hope it will be an important lesson. I thought we should tell it to many people. So, let’s share and tell this story!
At the end, we went to Rikuzentakata-city and we saw ‘Miracle of a pine tree’. Buildings and other trees around it helped it to survive. Tree helps each other like us. Mr. Yanase Takashi, Anpanman’s writer named trees Taeru-kun, Tsunagu-kun, Inochi-kun and Nobiru-kun.
Taeru is endure. ‘Miracle of a pine tree’ withstood the Tsunami. Tsunagu is connect. Disaster area and the world will be connecting. Inochi is life. Life is the most important. Noboru is grow. Disaster area will reborn.
Everything of those words is positive.
I learnt about two facts of life. Human Fragility & Human Strength
We invent, we build, we construct & we create high tech magnificent world, but if forget our inner and true strength. Natural catastrophes come at a sudden and collapse our physical world, leaving us with nothing but our hopes, our spirit, our hearts and our souls. Which are actually our true & only strength.
We must try not to forget our human strength, our human soul.
DAY4: 29 March
In day 4, we played outside with local kids first. It was very surprise because the kids were very cheerful. And I thought that the most important thing is to never give up and do our best. This lesson from Tohoku kids is very important to everything such as studying and working. So I won’t forget this lesson forever.
On day4, we observed Minami-sanriku town with volunteer guide. Mr. Abe, he explained to us damage of Tsunami. It was clean now but it looked dead lifeless and looked deserted. He told us a story about nursing homes and hospital. It’s painful. But it was so important. So, we should share to our friends, family and so on. If we share and don’t forget Tohoku, it is a little thing, but it is meaningful thing what we can do. I hope when we go to Tohoku again, Tohoku will be more bright and lovely.
I went, I felt, I saw and I will share. As we passed through Minami Sanriku, the guide said. The high school kids helped the people in the hospital escape, the Israeli doctors came in to help in the hospital and the army also helped. This taught me a very important point that is the spirit of oneness and cooperation.
The biggest thing I felt during 4th day was that we could not do anything without each other. We heard stories about how high school students helped other local people escape during the tsunami, and stories about doctors and nurses trying to help the hurt people even when they are also in a dangerous situation. Helping each other, rather than having the mind of keeping myself safe first, made a great result as Tohoku city now. The TERACO is also built to support the children so they will not lose their hopes and dreams. Without the care of each other, nothing can be done.
We had fun time with the local kids in English at TERACO. I was very surprised because in TERACO there were ten thousand books. We played many games, such as ‘Train (rock, paper, scissors)’ ’Human Chain’ ‘Gesture Game’ and Dance with the local kids. Even though the local kids were affected by Tsunami, they were very powerful. So I got power from the local kids.
DAY5 / Conclusion: 30 March
Day-five is the last day of our Tohoku Trip. In the morning, we say good-bye to Minami Sanriku and continue our trip with two hours ride to a special-yet-secret place prepared by GNT staff. Eventually, we found out that we will go to Matsushima! Do you know Matsushima? It is one out-of-three most scenic places in Japan!
Two meters tsunami did hit Matsushima in 3.11. But when we get there, Matsushima has revived and started giving happiness again to the visitors! We enjoyed the fresh air, we admired the view of beautiful small islands and coral, we feel happy by feeding very-genki seagulls, and we had a delicious special kamaboko from Matsushima.
In the end, Tohoku is like a diamond. Diamond, no matter what happened, exposed by heat, and get extreme pressure, it will always be a diamond. A beautiful God’s creation and will be admired forever by people. So does Tohoku, although stricken by tsunami, we still can admire the beautiful landscape in Matsushima, the seagulls are still happily flying, and all the people we met and interacted-with during Tohoku Trip are happy and enthusiast to rebuild their beautiful home. Tohoku is truly a diamond in the northeast of Japan.
Don’t forget 3.11 and let’s visit Tohoku!
What we learned in 2nd Tohoku Trip. I learned importance of life in 2nd Tohoku Trip. Also, I learned to protect myself if earthquake or Tsunami happened. However, in order to do that, it is important to have a sense of crisis every day. We also learned everyone can do something for the people.
What we can do.I can make friends with Tohoku kids and keep contact by sending letters and visit them again.I can tell my family and friends about Tohoku. We can make 3rd Tohoku Trip.
We think many small actions also can make big differences too.So everyone, let’s take action!!