Sunday, May 05, 2013

Why Onagawa ? some background.

On March 10th 2011 I received an email from NHK World TV telling me I had been accepted as a program monitor for that channel. Less than 24 hours later I was shocked to be viewing footage of the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region. 

I have friends in Japan and Japanese friends in the U.K. as do other members of our band Longstone. The footage of the disaster was so shocking that many people in the U.K. wanted to raise funds to help and the easiest way to donate at that time was via the Red Cross.
Longstone decided to release an album to try and raise some money to donate and I wrote about that project here
I talked to my Japanese friends and we decided to try and find a small project to donate our collection to  so we could hopefully monitor the progress of whatever charity we chose. 
However at the time we couldn't find any details of small projects .

Then I saw a documentary on NHK that really moved me, it featured Mayumi, a photographer who was born in Onagawa. Her family home had been badly damaged in the tsunami and her parents were missing. She had returned to the town to look for her parents and taken photographs of the tsunami damage in Onagawa. 
Mayumi's father had been a portrait photographer for the town and would take school graduation photographs etc. The documentary explained that Mayumi would continue his work at the schools but in order to provide the service free for the children who's families had lost so much, she had started a small charity. 
Luckily I was able to contact Mayumi via a blog she started and we donated the Longstone money to her charity.
You can read Mayumi's blog from the time, in English at this link

Since then I have always tried to watch the recovery process in Onagawa via any small pieces of news on the internet or TV.  I decided that during my holiday in Japan I would like to visit Onagawa as a tourist . I wanted to stay in a local hotel and eat in local restaurants . 

There were two major surprises in store for me. 
Firstly I underestimated the time that rebuilding would take and the current emptiness of the landscape and secondly I could not have imagined that I would be greeted, guided and welcomed so well by Mayumi, her husband and their friends from Onagawa.

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