The NPOs that the Japanese American delegation met with not only wanted to rebuild their communities, but also rebuild it in a way where it was not necessarily retracing their previous generation's steps. They knew how things had been done, and now it was an opportunity for them to try something different. Idealistic or ambitious or whatever people may like to call it, it is exciting to see young folks want to take control of the situation where their elders (local governments) had balked on.
|Tohoku Roku Project proposed site.|
|Site rendition. If I remember right, they were about a month or two away from purchasing the land and getting things rolling. Hope to see this up and fully functional in no time!|
The restaurant we were heading to was called Rokuchonome Farm ... I believe. This place was significant because the owner is also part of the Tohoku Roku Project. I think it's more than a mere coincidence that the word 'roku' keeps popping up. Roku means 'six' - as in the six partners/entrepreneurs working on rebuilding this area. The restaurant also partly acts as a social welfare program since the owner chooses to employ a significant percentage of people with physical and/or mental disabilities. The fact that this is one of the more popular restaurants in the area speaks to the owner's point that people with disabilities can contribute to society.
|Lunch buffet style at Rokuchonome Farm - yes that shit was goooood!|
The meeting should have ended by 2pm but towards the end, the interactions and good-byes extended it a bit longer. No complaints since we were about to go on a 2.5hrs drive northeast towards Onagawa, a small town heavily damaged.
During the 2.5hrs drive, we got to know our driver Yoshi, a bit more. Real interesting guy - at 27 years of age, he has attended school in remote Alaska, worked in a factory in Tennessee, hiked up some Nepalese mountain, has a peculiar fascination with making soup, and has a taste for hot dogs. He was also one of the representatives from the NPO ETIC. At the start of the trip, it was unclear as to what ETIC did exactly and what their structure was like. With so many organizations popping up after disasters, it's always wise to be cautious as to the true intent of some NPOs.
|On our way to Onagawa - passing through Ishinomaki. After our visit to Onagawa, we came back and spent the night in Ishinomaki, which also sustained significant damage.|
|Driving into Onagawa, towards the hospital.|
|Noriko (left) explains the extent of the damages to the Japanese American delegates.|
|Found a video clip of someone who was filming from the brown building on the left during the incoming waters.|
|Yoshi (far right) our driver and soup/hotdog enthusiast.|
|This shot gives an idea of how high the waters came. We're standing by the parking lot of the Onagawa hospital (to our right) and the cars in this lot got washed away.|
|The mountains of debris are still everywhere. In some parts, items are being separated and organized (tires and plastic).|
|Check the buoy lodged high in the trees.|
|This area was where Noriko (guide) lived. She said that when the waters started coming in, her and a friend fled straight back towards higher ground. Unfortunately, she said that her friend didn't make it.|
|Kaz and Yoshi checking out Noriko's temporary housing.|
|One of Noriko's neighbors with as much creature comfort as one can have.|
|Loved the silhouette from this shot - check the next photo of how this area used to look like.|
|Kumi Imamura, a young entrepreneur in Tohoku, established the Katariba project to provide free career education classes/night school (juku) to support high school students in the affected areas. This school in Onagawa is the first of what she hopes will be many similar programs across Tohoku.|
|Patty Kinaga and the Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Aid Project (JETAP) coordinate|
Final installment of Tohoku trip coming up soon.