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Activity Reports

Oraho’s Machizukuri Oen (Support to revitalize our town)

July 21, 2012

The ”Oraho’s Machizukuri Oen” programme held as part of the Ishinomaki volunteering experience offers a rich and intense two-day program to see sides of Ishinomaki which cannot be experienced in other ways.
- This programme is open for Japanese speaking volunteers. See details here.

This programme’s highest priority is the chance to meet with local people. Participants can create their visions of the future together with the local people while listening to their passions and plans to rebuild their community and businesses. On the first day of the programme, Mr Matsumura Gota from ISHINOMAKI 2.0 introduces participants to the town of Ishinomaki. He has proposed many ideas for the reconstruction of Ishinomaki, including “Fukko BAR (Recovery bar),” “Comi Kame” and the “Ishinomaki Kobo” (Ishinomaki factory). Mr Matsumura leads participants on a walking tour to learn about the current situation of Ishinomaki, titled the ” “ 2.0 Excursion.”

Mr Matsumura Gota giving a walking tour

From afternoon to evening, as part of the programme entitled “meeting the town’s residents,” participants visit different factories and shops which have either reopened or newly opened since the disaster, to hear the stories of the owners in small groups. One shop visited is “Yamagata-ya,” a long-established Miso and Soy Sauce shop which started in 1907.

The brewery which had been passed down from generation to generation was hugely affected by the disaster, and the family thought about closing down. However, when they received requests from customers to purchase even their leftover products, they started to think that what they can, and should, do under the situation was to restart their business.

Peace Boat volunteers helped the shop clean barrels of soy sauce and miso which were covered in mud. The factory is not yet recovered to the stage that they can produce their own products, but they have recovered their business step by step in a new way, including selling products made at a different factory located inland, and opening a restaurant by renovating an old warehouse on their property.

There are other new ideas like Marudaira Katsuobushi (bonito flakes), Ishinomaki Shimin Ichiba (People’s market), Machi Tsukuri Guild (Town Building Guild)” and so on. Not all can be introduced on this blog, so if you are interested to learn more, please join the actual program!

The highlight of the second day is participation in a monthly event to support the restoration and recovery process, held in front of an Ogatsu shop.

The Uni Matsuri (Sea Urchin Festival) in June

Events to support recovery from the disaster in Ogatsu have been held regularly since May last year. Volunteers from Peace Boat have participated in this festival several times, and participants had the chance to hear directly from Takahashi Yorio, coordinator and head of the committee for these events since the beginning.

Learning about the current situation of the two towns Ishinomaki and Ogatsu, and participating directly in projects led by local people, is a step towards finding out what we can do as volunteers – a hugely meaningful experience.

Okumura Sanae is thePeace Boat staff member in charge of the volunteering experience programmes – Oraho no Hama Taiken (Our Coast  Experience) and Oraho no Machizukuri Oen (Support to revitalize our town).

Okumura says, “Please come and visit Ishinomaki to find new attractions of Ishinomaki as a revitalizing town, not only as the disaster-affected Ishinomaki. You will also be able to feel where Japan is going through these two-day programs. We are really looking forward to meeting you all in Ishinomaki.”