community, kamaishi, otsuchi, rikuzentaka

Quake survivors share experiences via websites, asahi, 3/12/12

By MASAKAZU HIGASHINO / Staff Writer

OTSUCHI, Iwate Prefecture–People living in areas that were devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake have been reaching out to one another and the nation through a flurry of websites that they have been creating since last March 11.

One is “Yappesu! Akahama” (Let’s do it! Akahama) set up in late 2011 by the “Akahama no Fukko wo Kangaeru Kai” (Group to think about recovery in Akahama). The Akahama district, located in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, is the site of one of the most iconic images of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Magazines and newspapers around the world carried photographs of the sightseeing ship Hamayuri, which was washed away by the tsunami, coming to rest atop a guest house.

The Akahama website carries photos and stories by local people, including not only community leaders, but also elementary schoolchildren. One of the stories read, “Salmon fishing was reopened.” Another read, “I will live not only my life, but also those of my friends who died (in the March 11 disaster).”

“We want to discuss our recovery plans with people throughout the nation,” said Seiichi Nakamura, a member of the group, which received donations of personal computers from a charity group.

In Otsuchi, railway services have yet to recover. The number of volunteer workers is also decreasing. In such a situation, many groups there are creating websites to maintain ties with supporters.

One is “Tachiagare! Domannaka Otsuchi” (Stand up! Central Otsuchi), which was created by a marine products processing company. The website has about 4,000 supporters, including those in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

In Rikuzentakata, also in Iwate Prefecture, people in the Nagahora district who had voluntarily looked for land for temporary housing facilities by asking landowners, made a website, “Nagahora Genkimura” (Vigorous village Nagahora).

When one of the members, Seiji Murakami, posted the group’s daily affairs on the website, it received not only support, but also visitors from throughout Japan.

Meanwhile, Nobuaki Sasaki, who came from Rikuzentakata and is now living in Tokyo, created a website, “Save Takata.” It is jointly operated by Sasaki and other graduates of Takata Senior High School.

“We want to offer know-how that enables people in affected areas to receive support necessary for their independence,” Sasaki said.

“Kamaishishi and Otsuchicho Fukko Shien Oen Saito” (Website to support and encourage recovery of Kamaishi city and Otsuchi town) introduces events and local government information. It was created by Hideki Sasaki and his wife, Kazue, in April last year when they were taking refuge at a friend’s house after their home was washed away by the tsunami.

“These first one or two years (after the earthquake) are important as people throughout the country are paying attention to affected areas,” Hideki Sasaki said.

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About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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