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Activity Reports

Making commercials for the Onagawa “Chime of Hope” Shops

September 30, 2012

Many  of the shops in the town of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture were destroyed by the tsunami last year, and the tow n now has two temporary shopping areas. One of these was the area where Peace Boat volunteers built wooden decks earlier this year, and the second is the “Chime of Hope Shopping Center,” with space for 50 shops.

“The Chime of Hope” refers to the bells which were originally hung on the marionette clock at the JR Onagawa  Train Station. After the disaster, only one of the bells was found and it has since become a symbol of recovery.

The Chime of Hope Shopping Center was opened on 29 April this year on the grounds of the Onagawa High School. The center consists of 30 wooden temporary shops and 20 prefabricated shops. The friendly and busy shopping area has everything from greengrocers and sports apparel shops to “cram” schools and restaurants.

It was in April of this year that Peace Boat proposed to the local Chamber of Commerce to create an Onagawa community website that would bring together the people of Onagawa and volunteers and people from other places wishing to help rebuild Onagawa together.

We then received a generous grant from Refugees International Japan in the form of server space for the home page, and funds necessary for the administration of the website. Furthermore, we wanted to make this a website run by the people of Onagawa themselves, not just by technicians based outside the area. Therefore we launched this project to provide training the residents in Onagawa, learning how to run the website and enjoy communicating with the rest of the world.

With the help of Hack for Japan, who Peace Boat also worked with for the “Awareness of post-disaster Volunteering” questionnaire, and Sonobe Web Design Corporation, based in the city of Sendai, a plan was established for technical experts to go to Onagawa and teach the local people how to administrate their own website.

To encourage many more people to be involved in the project, Peace Boat staff member in charge of the “Temporary Housing Kizuna Newsletter” and “Locally-initiated project to share the attraction of Ishinomaki town” Iwamoto Akiko suggested that volunteers interview community members at all of the different shops and compile it into a commercial.

Volunteers took photos and video, conducted interviews, and then edited all of the  material. Much of the editing work for the first commercial was done by corporate volunteers from pharmaceutical company Sanofi, with their expertise in computing.

Volunteers editing and compiling the interviews.

Though commercials for each of the stores are not yet complete, some of the footage and further information can be found by searching for 「きぼうのかね商店街 CM」on Peace Boat Ishinomaki’s Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/user/PBVishinomaki.
The Onagawa Community website can be found at this address: http://onagawa-town.com/.
You can also see the Onagawa community on facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/onagawa.community

And finally a message from Peace Boat staff member Iwamoto Akiko:
“Through the commercials and website, I hope that this will make volunteers, tourists who have visited Onagawa in the past and others want to come and visit Onagawa. Since watching this, the shop owners of Ishinomaki have already started to discuss making their own commercials. This is not just a one time thing, it has far reaching positive effects.”