Hope for Tohoku

Posted by Bob On Thursday, October 27th, 2011

6/5 Thoughts from Keishi san

I went to Ishinomaki from the night of June 3. I left about 9pm and arrived at 11am. I went to a park that was recently cleaned up and gathered kids together to play with them and to pass out presents. These kids’ stationery goods along with their homes were washed away in the tsunami, some lost their families. We played volleyball, dodgeball, frisbee, badminton, and soccer! Many people came out for a barbeque and we had a wonderful time with them.

I have gone to this area many times now and have become friends with many of the people there. I feel the people of Tohoku have a closeness to Kansai people. Their sense of language and humor is very similar. They are cheerful and friendly people. They like Kansai-ben (dialect).

As I get to know these people and befriend them, I am struck by one thing.
Though they do not say this directly, this is what I believe I am hearing from their hearts. “We don’t want people to come here and help us just because they pity us. We want people to come who love our towns and who love the people who live here, or because they love the goods we produce here. When these kinds of people come to help us, we feel the strength to live again and realize that life is worth living again.”

On March 18, I met a man who formerly had a yakisoba (fried noodles) factory. He showed me around the area where the factory used to stand and the temporary factory that is currently under construction. His factory was 1000 tsubo (1 acre) , but now all that is left is the foundation but there is no trace that anything more was there – it was all washed away. The loss will surmount 1 – oku yen (over $1 million). Standing there with the old man, I couldn’t say anything. There’s no trace of anything ever standing in that region. Most would be dumbfounded, however, this old man began to see hope and he encouraged me instead! These are the kinds of people that I hope we can continue to support!

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