July 11, 2012
The “Peace Boat Center Ishinomaki” was officially opened on June 2, after renovation taking place since the Golden Week break in May. The grand opening for this community exchange space took place with an event in which local community members and many other people who have been involved and supported Peace Boat’s activities in Ishinomaki over the past 1 year and three months.
This event was a precious opportunity to unveil this newly opened community space, while expressing our deep appreciation to the local residents for their generous support and cooperation. The space was filled with warm appreciation, smiles – and of course toasts and calls for “kampai!”
Each guest was presented with a message card hand-made by Peace Boat staff members and volunteers, as a way to express our thanks to the local community.
Mayor Kameyama Hiroshi of Ishinomaki also attended the event. In his speech, Mr Kameyama said; “As an area heavily affected by the disaster, we are currently operating the city with financial support from the national government. It is particularly important how this support is utilised. A major challenge for us now is how to bring the flow of people back to the city. One of the characteristics of Ishinomaki was that it was senior-friendly. For example, shops are within walking distance so that elderly residents can walk around and shop without difficulties. This new Peace Boat Center community space is targeted for the younger generation, and I am very excited about this new approach. I am in great hopes that this project will become long-term.” Mayor Kameyama also mentioned his wish to one day join Peace Boat’s main activity, the global voyage for cultural exchange – we look forward to welcoming him onboard sometime soon!
The event was opened with a toast by Ms Abe Kiyoko, from the local traditional Japanese restaurant ‘Yawataya.’ Ms Abe has played a vital role as a communication bridge between Peace Boat and the local community. “It was last April when I encountered Peace Boat for the first time. Then, I didn’t know what to do and was bewildered. Peace Boat saved me from the depths of desperation. I hope to strengthen this relationship in the future, here in Ishinomaki.”
President of Peace Boat’s disaster relief activities, Yamamoto “Junior” Takashi and head of the Ishinomaki Shimin-ichiba (citizen’s market) Mr Irokawa also gave words at the opening, with both highlighting the shift from relief into the new phase of recovery; the need to encourage people to return to the city; the goal to make a senior and youth friendly city; and the wish to make the revived Ishinomaki a model for the rest of Japan. Seeing the sparks in the eyes of Mr Irokawa, who experienced both World War II as a child and issues over fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone as an adult, as he said that “we can’t give up on Japan yet, ” was very symbolic to all; seeing Mr Irokawa’s strength as he is now working on the recovery of Ishinomaki, the biggest challenge of his life.
Saza Shinsuke, a former Peace Boat staff who is now working for the Ishinomaki citizen’s market, gave a presentation about Ishinomaki’s seafood including sardines, flatfish and salmon roe. It is difficult to express the wonders of these gifts from the sea. The Ishinomaki citizen’s market will newly open on June 9, where vegetables and seafood can be directly purchased from local producers, to highlight the rich food culture of Ishinomaki.
During the event, Peace Boat’s Kakinuki Norihiko gave a presentation about the Peace Boat Center Ishinomaki; expressing our hopes for the community space to become a place where people can come by to experience, learn, and hopefully create something new, to help the city little by little.
The opening event was broadcast live on the web through USTREAM, as a step towards the important role of Ishinomaki based organisations disseminating information from the local area to the world. Please consider following us on Ustream, Twitter and Facebook for future reports (mostly in Japanese language).
We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation for the ongoing support which has enabled us to open the Peace Boat Center Ishinomaki. This will be a center for local residents, particularly youth, to gather, learn, express themselves, and create something new to give energy to the local community. The challenges will continue, and we look forward to your further involvement. Please drop by the new community space “Peace Boat Center Ishinomaki” next time you are visiting the area.
Peace Boat Center Ishinomaki
Location and Contact:
1-5-21 Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan 986-0824
Tel: 0225-25-5602 / Fax: 0225-25-5603
Opening Hours: 10 am – 7 pm every day
Events: International exchange, English conversation, nail art, live concerts etc
Information: Kasetsu Kizuna Shimbun (community newspaper) publishing, Podcasts and internet radio, live webcasting of events and interviews etc
Volunteer: Information about local volunteering opportunities, event planning, group activities etc
Free space: free internet and wifi area, iPad rental, etc
Further details: Please check regular updates on Facebook and Twitter!
Blog: Takahashi Masaki
Photos: Suzuki Shoichi, Takahashi Masaki