Saturday, April 9, 2011

Visiting Ishinomaki Senshu Daigaku, in Ishinomaki (Miyagi)

宮城県石巻市 石巻専修大学を訪問

April 8th   4月8日
Today, we went to the main Volunteer / Disaster Relief coordination center in Ishinomaki, set up in what is usually Ishinomaki Senshu Daigaku. You can see only a few of the tents that belonged to the volunteers who were camped out there, hoping to make a dent in the disaster relief for the area (as well as a huge stretch of Japanese Self Defense Force camps spread out on the campus grounds.)

We met some of the sweetest staff ever, and we were able to start immediately going around to all the rooms to play our music for the people there.

We dropped off some clothes. The man holding the vest was coordinating the business of the evacuation center the day that we visited, and as we were about to leave we asked for his namecard. He was very sorry and said he didn't have one to give us. "I also don't have an address anymore because of this disaster..."
There weren't many children, but the older people were so happy and lively, it was a huge treat to be able to meet them and talk with them.

One woman who had lost everything in the tsunami, told us, "When I went back to my house, and saw that it was a pile of rubble, I had no reaction. I didn't know how to feel; I just stood there and stared at it. It's been three weeks and I haven't cried at all. Listening to you sing today, I cried for the first time."

This man could barely move, but he made an effort to stand up and show me his rose. He really wanted to show me this rose, and it was one of his most sacred possessions. I'm not sure if he got it while he was in the evacuation center or not, but he was holding it and looking at it so lovingly, and wanted me to look at it too. He said, "This pot fell down in the earthquake last night [the earthquake was a 7.3 off the coast of Miyagi]. But I picked it up and put it back in its pot, and it's still alive. It's still as beautiful as ever, and it will grow even bigger." And then he cried.
この男性は、ほとんど体を動かすことができないのですが、なんとか立って、私にバラの花を見せてくれました。本当に私に見せたかったのです。それは彼にとって一番大切な持ち物でした。それを避難所でもらったのかどうかわかりませんが、大事に持って、それを愛情こめて眺めていたのです。そして私にも見てほしかったのです。彼は、「この鉢はね、夕べの地震(宮城県の沖で震度6強)で落ちたんだが、またひろって、もとに戻してやったら、まだ生きている。そしてもっときれいになってるし、大きくなっているんだよ。」 そう言い終えると彼は泣きました。

Most of the electricity was cut because of the earthquake the night before.

There was another huge rush on the convenience stores. The shelves were completely empty, and signs like this were everywhere.

On the way back we had a look at some of the devastation along the Ishinomaki coast.

It was a strangely different effect than Kesennuma or Minamisanriku, both of which were port inlets that tapered to a point, where the wave entered and just plowed through everything across a wide space. In Ishinomaki, the tsunami hit straight across a longer stretch of coast, but didn't seem to make it so far or so forcefully inland. Still, in some ways, while the houses weren't as completely desecrated, and from far away looked like they might still be standing, they were just skeletons of broken walls and windows.

This was a few blocks in from the port--this boat and others like it resting on the road.


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