一般財団法人 連帯 東北・西南 RENTAI TOHOKU-SEINAN

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2013.04.14 12:50

Curry Event at the Rikuzentakata City Hall (April 11th, 2013 at Rikuzentakata City Hall, Iwate Prefeture)

On Thursday, April 11th, we provided Tomodachi Curry® free of charge at the Rikuzentakata City Hall in Iwate Prefecture, to support the City Hall staff.

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There has been 1,556 deaths and 218 missing (as of Dec. 31st, 2012) in Rikuzentakata City due to the Great East Japan Earthquake, suffering the most in Iwate Prefecture. After more than two long years since the disaster hit, the city is still far from making a recovery. Hearing that the staff at the City Hall has been working very hard toward recovery though they themselves are victims, but are still haunted by the feeling of despair, we planned and carried out this curry event to convey the message of gratitude and encouragement.

While Rentai Tohoku-Seinan has been holding curry events mainly at temporary housing complexes, this is the second time for us to hold an event at a public institution, following the first one in May last year at Hirota Primary School in Rikuzentakata. Our objective until now has been to encourage the residents living in temporary housings and to cheer them up, and as such we had asked the victims of the disaster to join us in preparing the curry. However, this time the objective was different, and since we only had a limited time available to arrange everything, we did preparation the day before and minimized what we had to do at the City Hall.

We prepared the curry at Minami Exchange Center in Senmaya-cho where we are kindly provided with the use of the facility every time. Even though we planned beforehand and made preparations, there were unexpected shopping, etc. happening, and as a consequence we did not have the number of staff available as scheduled. As such, we asked the local residents of Senmaya-cho to assist us.

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When we provided Tomodachi Curry® free of charge to encourage the children and their families at the sports festival held at Hirota Primary School in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture last May, we became friends with Keisuke, who is in fifth grade. From there, we went on to hold a lunch party event providing curry again on Tanabata (the day of Star Festival), Saturday, July 7th, at a nearby temporary housing complex where he lives (Temporary Housing Complex 2, Okubo, Hirota-cho, Rikuzentakata). There, we became friendly with his mother, and when we told her of the latest event, she kindly offered to help even though she was a victim herself, and came to the City Hall from early morning.

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Mr. Chiba, who owns a yakiniku (barbecue) restaurant Kakunoshin in Kawasaki-cho, came to help us with his staff Mr. Oyama from early morning as well, despite of their busy schedule with the upcoming opening of a new restaurant. Mr. Sato, the priest from Fujisawa-cho whom we are friends with, also came to help us before noon. Mr. Onodera from the Rotary Club in Senmaya-cho could not be with us on the day of the event, and so he kindly sent us free of charge 36 kg of chicken meat. There was also Marie from the U.S. who joined us after volunteering in Minamisoma, and assisted us from the day before with the preparation.

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Mr. Isao Aoki of Yugen Kaisha Aoki Shoji, lent us a professional-use teppan-yaki frying griddle to bake naan, which was very helpful and speeded up the preparation.

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In our previous curry events, we had been serving curry directly from the pot at the venue. However, because this time we had to efficiently serve within the limited amount of time available for lunch break at the City Hall, we chose to prepare the curry and naan in packages beforehand and hand them out. We couldn't pack all of the 300 servings necessary, and had to ask some people to wait. However, we were all relieved to have successfully handed out all 300 servings after about 15 minutes since our start at noon.

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Mr. Sugawara, the mayor of Hiraizumi, started supporting Rikuzentakata soon after the earthquake in cooperation with Ichinoseki and Fujisawa by setting up a joint support headquarters and providing vehicles, large quantities of water and food, man power, and accepting evacuees. He was deeply touched to see the mayor of Rikuzentakata work tirelessly for the citizens, despite having lost his wife and becoming a victim himself. With such an experience, Mr. Sugawara has been of great support to our activities, and came to help us at the venue before noon in between his official duties. We sincerely appreciate his smiles and efficient work.

The staff at our Foundation was surprised to hear from our Representative Director that we would be holding an event to comfort and encourage the City Hall staff. As the purpose of our activities is to support self-reliance, we would of course like to encourage the City Hall staff members who are all working day and night to support the self-reliance of the citizens, but our fundamental wish is for the victims themselves to swiftly recover a positive mind strong enough to join us in our activities. Our thoughts were reinforced when the City Hall staff said afterwards, "Please don't let this be a one-time event."

The curry event was reported in the Iwate Nichi-Nichi Shimbun, below.

Kitade, Noboru
Rentai Tohoku Seinan Staff

Article in the Iwate Nichi-Nichi Shimbun dated April 13th, 2013

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Categories:Staff reports

2013.04.14 12:50 admin

2013.03.12 12:19

Memorial Service for the Victims and Dedication of the Angel Statue (March 10th and 11th, 2013 at the site of Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki City, Iwate Prefecture)

On Sunday, March 10th and Monday, March 11th, 2013, we held a memorial service for the victims and a dedication ceremony of the Angel statue at the school ground site of Ishinomaki City Okawa Elementary School in Iwate Prefecture. We held this ceremony to pray for the repose of the victims' souls of the Great East Japan Earthquake two years ago, hoping that the bereaved families and those having relations with the Okawa area to take their steps forward into the future with "hope" even in the midst of "sadness".

1. Mr. Richard P. Evans and the Angel Statue

Mr. Richard P. Evans, born in 1962 in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A., is a writer known for his works on family love (http://www.richardpaulevans.com). After graduating from the University of Utah, he worked at an advertising agency, and while working there he wrote a story called "The Christmas Box" for his daughters. The story became popular with word of mouth, and with a suggestion from his friend, he self-published the work which went on to become a best seller in the U.S. Mr. Evans continues to write best sellers one after another, and besides his writing he is also active in charity work for children in distress. (In Japan, the book is published from Kodansha with the title "Kurisumasu Bokkusu (Christmas Box)".)

The statue of an angel, which is the symbolic figure in the story, did exist in the cemetery in Salt Lake City where the story is set but was destroyed by the massive flood of 1984. However, a new angel statue was dedicated by Mr. Evans on December 6th, 1994. Mr. Evans' actions were supported by many of the readers, and replicas of the Angel statue began to be placed all across the U.S. Currently, there are 116 statues in the U.S. and 1 in Canada, and the Angel statue dedicated in Japan will be the 118th Angel statue. Every year on December 6th (the day the girl in the book passed away), many grieving families and friends come together to share their sorrows of losing their children and to encourage each other.

2. Dedication of the Angel Statue to the Devastated Area

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All our staff members at the Foundation involved in the support activities have been feeling that they can hardly grasp the deep sorrow of those suffering, and have been contemplating of some way to comfort the children and others who have lost friends and families. As I was close to Mr. Evans, it came to me to dedicate the Angel statue to the devastated area, and ever since I had been looking for an appropriate site to place this statue.

3. Meeting Mr. Takeyama

I learned that the local residents of Okawa region in Ishinomaki City, where 74 children and 10 teachers of Ishinomaki City Okawa Elementary School in Iwate Prefecture have died or are missing after the Great East Japan Earthquake, were planning to build a memorial. I also read in an article on Yomiuri Shimbun (Yomiuri Online; newspaper publisher) that Mr. Ikuo Takeyama, the representative of the Kamaya Memorial Building Committee, was trying to raise funds to build a memorial beside the school. Reading this article gave me the opportunity to meet Mr. Takeyama in person.

On the day of the earthquake, Mr. Takeyama was able to escape from the disaster as he was in the Hamamatsu area for his work. However, His daughter (19 years old at the time) who had graduated from Okawa Elementary School, his wife, and his mother were struck by tsunami while they were trying to evacuate by car.

After actually visiting Okawa Elementary School and listening to his story, I came to believe that there is no other place more appropriate to place the Angel statue.

4. Preparing for the Dedication of the Angel statue to Okawa Elementary School

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Mr. Takeyama at the site before the foundation work

The site after the completion of the foundation work

Mr. Takeyama has made tremendous effort in realizing the dedication of the Angel statue at the school ground site of Okawa Elementary School, holding discussions with the school's PTA and many others involved. Thanks to his effort, we were able to receive an official approval to place the Angel statue at the school as one of the memorials.

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Import of the Angel statue was handled by our Foundation, but the foundation work and the pedestal construction, and the setting of the Angel statue were all handled free of charge with the kindness of Mr. Isao Aoki, the president of Yugen Kaisha Aoki Shoji (Aoki Shoji Limited Liability Company; Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture), who had been supportive of the intent of this dedication.

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Preparing hot chai

Additionally, Dr. Kenichi Shoji, the director of Shoji Naika Ichoka of Mizuho Healthcare Corporation (Shoji Internal Medicine and Gastrointestinal Hospital; Ishinomaki City), had arranged for the accommodation for our staff and the tents necessary for the ceremony in addition to the set up on the day of the event. Moreover, he kindly hosted a dinner on the evening of March 10th in Ishinomaki City for the 25 people involved, and also provided lunches on March 11th.

5. Locally Hosted Joint Memorial Service

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The locally hosted Joint Memorial Service was scheduled to be held in front of the memorial placed in the school ground (in the back of the Angel statue), but was moved inside the school building due to the strong wind blowing outside.

6. Memorial Service for the Victims and Dedication of the Angel statue

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On March 10th, after the locally hosted Joint Memorial Service, the ceremony was conducted in front of the Angel statue by Mr. Hitoshi Soeno, the chief priest of Wakamiya Hachiman Shrine who had kindly come all the way from Nagoya.

In addition to the staff from our Foundation, present at the ceremony were the local residents who had helped us realize this event, the Angel Representative for Mr. Richard P. Evans, Ms. Lisa Johnson and her husband, and the creator of the Angel statue, Mr. Jared O. M. Fairbanks.

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Additionally on March 11th, we had asked Father Masashi Takahashi from Mizusawa Church in Iwate Prefecture, and the priest Mr. Ryoki Sato from Togen Temple (Soto School) in Fujisawa-cho to each conduct a memorial service. Furthermore, our Muslim staff Syed Tahir from the Foundation read verses from the Koran (the sacred book of Islam) describing the role of the angels. It was an ecumenical ceremony, recognizing the dialog among the many beliefs toward global peace.

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from left: Priest Mr. Someno, Priest Mr. Sato, Representative Director of the Foundation, Father Takahashi, and Syed Tahir

From the Angel statue named the "Angel of Hope", we hope that people may be able to feel the strong message to firmly rise with "hope" from within the "sadness".

We take this opportunity to introduce the message from Ms. Lisa Johnson, the Angel Representative of Mr. Richard P. Evans who came to Japan for this ceremony, and the March 14th article from the Iwate Nichi-Nichi Shimbun describing the ceremony.

Yasuhiko Sata
Representative Director
Rentai Tohoku-Seinan

Message from Ms. Lisa Johnson

Article in the Iwate Nichi-Nichi Shimbun dated March 14th, 2013

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Categories:Staff reports

2013.03.12 12:19 admin

2013.02.10 10:53

Chinese New Year celebration (Sunday February 10th at the Bellino Hotel, Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture)

From 6 to 9 pm on February 10th, we held a Chinese New Year celebration together with the Chinese residents, other international residents and their families in Tohoku at the Bellino Hotel Ichinoseki in Iwate Prefecture.

The current relationship with China unfortunately continues to be a difficult one, but on a private level we have a friendly relationship. Through our support activities, our Foundation has become acquainted with a number of wives from China that have married Japanese and are working hard in Tohoku, and they have supported us in our activities such as the curry events at temporary housings by helping us prepare the dishes. With our feelings of gratitude, we together celebrated the beginning of the New Year.

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The applications received to attend the ceremony far exceeded the initial 100 seats available, but in the end we had 200 participants at the event. Ms. Saito, the chairwoman of the hotel which we used as the venue was very supportive of our aim in holding this event. Not only did she support us during the initial preparations, she was very flexible in accommodating the huge change in the number of participants.

The Representative Director of our Foundation began his opening speech by saying "I would like to express my respect to you all from China who had left their homeland to marry Japanese people and has put all their efforts to this day." The speech was followed by a lecture by Mr. Hidenori Sakanaka, the director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute. He stressed the necessity to change the social system including education and to accept immigrants, which is the only way to avoid "population crisis" in Japan where the population continues to decrease.

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This was followed by a toast, with participants enjoying 10-year-old Chinese rice wine stored in jars, a gift from the president of Kenkoh Trading Co., Ltd. in Tokyo, Mr. Fu, and Japanese rice wine in barrels, a gift from the president of Kakunoshin in Kawasaki-cho, Mr. Chiba, and the president of the Rotary Club in Senmaya-cho, Mr. Ogata. The banquet was given in a buffet style.

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Everyone was inspired by the performances by the pianist, opera singer, and harp player from China, and was also surprised by a special Chinese acrobatics show, the mask change performance.

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These performances were followed by representatives of China, the Philippines and Japan gathering on stage and singing songs from their respective countries with a piano accompaniment. After the songs by the Japanese team, everyone sang "Kitaguni no Haru (North Spring)" in Chinese and had a great time.

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It was impressing to see Mr. Koga, the owner of a music restaurant whom the Representative Director is friends with, replying to various piano requests with his experienced skills in the latter half of the stage performance. The finale song was a cheery "Beer Barrel Polka" requested by the Representative Director and played by Mr. Koga, and everyone got up and marched in a single line throughout the room which was a spectacular sight to see. We hope that even those shy at first were able to join in with all the others and enjoy the march with a smile on their faces.

Together with Ms. Saito, the chairman of Bellino Hotel, we were very excited by the end of the event thinking that for next year, this type of fun event could be grander.

The event was admission free, but we invited all to "donate if you enjoyed the event." Everyone's kindness totaled to approximately \80,000 in the donation box set in the room. We take this opportunity to thank everyone, and would like to report here that we will forward your kindness to the people in Tohoku through the self-reliance support activities of our Foundation.

The Chinese New Year celebration was reported in the Iwate Nichi-Nichi Shimbun.

Article in the Iwate Nichi-Nichi Shimbun dated 11 February 2013

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Categories:Staff reports

2013.02.10 10:53 admin

2013.01.25 10:45

Christmas Event(December 24th at the Okago Church, Fujisawa-cho, Ishinomaki City, Iwate Prefecture)

Rentai Tohoku Seinan Staff, Tahir here.

On the 24th of December we assisted in a Christmas event at a Church in Okago, Fujisawa-cho, Ishinomaki City, Iwate Prefecture.

At the beginning of the Edo period more than 300 Christians were martyred in the Okago area. It has been the wish of our Chairperson to assist in vitalizing this area. Through the introduction of the Chief Priest of Fujisawa-cho, we were able to get to know Mr Hatakeyama, Director of the Okago Christian Resource Center.

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Mr Hatakeyama participated in the dinner gatherings on the 30th of November in Okago and on the 1st of December in Senmaya-cho which provided the opportunity for exchange of opinions with our Chairperson. They concurred, and this lead to the current event being held.

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● Illuminations switching-on ceremony

The illuminations switching-on ceremony was held at the Okago Church at 17:30 on the 23rd of December, and while snow fell lightly around, we did a countdown together with all those who gathered, and the lights turned on. Tens of thousands of LED lamps lit up together and the colorful lights twinkling in the darkness created a wonderful atmosphere in the church.

The illuminations were something Mr Hatakeyama, Director of the Okago Christian Resource Center, had been imagining for many years. It was done in the memory of the Christians who were martyred in this area in the past, as well as those who unfortunately lost their lives during the earthquake disaster. Mr Hatakeyama himself overcame various difficulties during the preparation of the illuminations and even climbed onto the roof himself to install the lights. With the help of Mr Hatakeyama's friends, Mr and Mrs Miura, who knew about illuminations, the switching-on ceremony was a great success.

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● Meal gathering at farm guest house "Kanrakuro"

After the illuminations switching-on ceremony, a meal gathering was held at a farm guest house which was in a 130-year old building in Fujisawa-cho. Local residents and those who were affected by the disaster deepened their exchange while enjoying the meal prepared using locally grown vegetables and special "doburoku" (unrefined sake) brewed in a sake-making brewery of the guest house. The feelings of those people who lost their families in the great disaster is beyond our imagination, but through our discussions we were able to gather that they are all making progress one step at a time in the right direction. We are very much moved by the strength of the people when we see their courage in the face of such adverse circumstances.

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● Christmas Mass

On the 24th of December we requested Father Takahashi from Mizusawa Church to hold a Christmas Mass at the Okago Church. In a very spiritual atmosphere a Bible verse was read, hymns were sung, with prayers for the repose of the victims' souls and recovery from the disaster.

Although for many participants it was their first time to attend a mass, everyone who gathered prayed together as one.

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● Cake party

After the mass, everyone enjoyed chai made using fresh milk provided by a dairy farm in Senmaya-cho, along with homemade cake which was prepared by Mr Chiba who runs a yakiniku restaurant in Kawasaki-cho. On the cake it said 'Merry Christmas! Not defeated by the rain, nor by the wind' and the 30 people who gathered had a good time.

We would like to continue working in this area in the future.

The illumnations switching-on ceremony was reported in the Iwate Nichi-Nichi Shimbun, and the Christmas Mass was reported in the Iwate Nippo.

Article in the Iwate Nichi-Nichi Shimbun dated 24 December 2012

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Article in the Iwate Nippo dated 25 December 2012

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Categories:Staff reports

2013.01.25 10:45 admin

2013.01.25 10:44

Chinese Food Event(Sunday December 2nd at Kahoku Sandanbashiri temporary housing estate, Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)

Rentai Tohoku Seinan Staff, Tahir here.

On Sunday the 2nd of December provided a free Chinese meal to help cheer up the residents of Kahoku Sandanbashiri temporary housing estate in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. Many of the residents at this housing estate came from the Okawa Primary School area where many children died in the tsunami. We became friendly with people in this area who had lost their families, which is how we came to hold this event.

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Instead of the usual curry, we offered residents an authentic Chinese meal prepared by a chef and his assistant (our acquaintances). The chef had heard about our curry events and had also wanted to help, but due to the difficultly in taking days off work, he was not able to realize his wish until now. They finally had the chance to take part in this event.

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On the evening prior to the event at Minami Exchange Center in Senmaya-cho, we asked the local people who always take part to gather together for a Chinese dinner. Chinese wives living in the area helped us to make authentic dumplings in soup.

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To the dinner we also invited Mr T who lost his family in the Okawa area in Ishinomaki City, and we prepared and offered special meals to honor those who lost their lives. Apart from local people, some participants also joined from Okago, Fujisawa-cho, and in total about 30 people gathered. It was an exchange party that crossed country and district boundaries.

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After that we began preparations for the following day, but because we had to work in a rather poorly equipped kitchen, the chef was hard at work until 2am. Next morning we left Minami Exchange Center at 7:30am and head for Ishinomaki-City via Okago. First we visited Okawa Primary School where we held a silent moment for the victims, and then we went into the temporary housing estate.

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Since it was an authentic Chinese meal, the expectations of residents were quite high. In the middle of preparing the meal some residents came to see how we were doing and expressed their keenness to have the meal soon. However before anything else we prepared the meals in the community hall for those absent, and the chief priest who always helps us came and offered his prayers for the people who lost their lives. After that, everyone enjoyed the meal.

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We brought the meal in to the community center and the residents ate while listening to piano background music as well as singing. The music was performed voluntarily by Mr Koga, a music restaurant owner and Ms Yamazaki, a soprano singer. It was their first time to perform alongside a Chinese meal.

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At the end of the event, at our Chairperson's request, we had several participants read aloud Kenji Miyazawa's poem "Not defeated by the rain" in the local Tohoku dialect, which we thoroughly enjoyed. The apples lined up on the table were brought in by Mr C (whom we became acquainted with in Okago, Fujisawa-cho) and were distributed to the participants to take home with them, and they were very gratefully received.

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The Okawa area had great damage during the tsunami with 400 homes completely destroyed, and we would like to provide whatever assistance possible in memory of those who lost their lives. We would like to continue our work in this area, while treasuring our friendship with Mr T.

Categories:Staff reports

2013.01.25 10:44 admin

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RENTAI TOHOKU-SEINAN Support activities
Reports of our activities

Latest articles

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  • Curry Event (7/12 2015 at Shimowano Housing Complex, Rikuzentakata, Iwate)
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  • Symposium (5/30 2015 at Senmaya International Club, Ichinoseki, Iwate)
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