ANNISA: HELLO JAPAN! (HANDs! PROJECT PART 2)
This is the part 2 after my exciting trip in the Philippines with the Hands! Project.
Finally, Japan time! I had been waiting for so long! There were so many things to learn from this beautiful country, but we have too little time. In Japan, we mostly learned about the common disaster in Japan, such as earthquake and tsunami. We got to know how Japanese prepare themselves to deal with a disaster and manage a post-disaster. I must say that Japan is taking this preparation very seriously in order to minimize the damage and the number of victims when the time comes. We visited 4 cities; Tokyo, Sendai, Ishinomaki and Onagawa.
In this place, everyone could learn how to prevent a disaster and prepare themselves before it happens. We were also told about Dos and Don’ts during and after a disaster. It was so fun! Their facilities were very attractive and equipped with a high technology. One thing that I liked the most was the live game where we could experience being in the middle of disaster. The game arena was in 2 floors. Inside the game, we were simulated as one of the citizen who needed to survive from a disaster. Every player was provided with a digital tab with Augmented Reality (AR) technology. Each player required to finish all missions to survive by following the clues provided and and answering quizzes to get points. The player with high points were most likely to survive. My points was only 60 out of 100! Ha, almost.
BO-SAI Expo and Iza Kaeru Caravan
On the second day, we visited a huge shopping park in Toyosu, called LaLaport. No, we didn’t come here for shopping! We went there to attend two fun events. The first event was BO-SAI Expo, an exhibition that showed us any kind of creations and innovations for the disaster prevention. This expo was really interesting, there were displays of the super lasting can-food (up to 20 years) and emergency toilet innovation. There was also a session on how to make tools needed in post-disaster, for example an emergency food container that is made of paper and plastic.
The second event was Iza Kaeru Caravan, a festival where kids could exchange their old toys with other kids. In order to participate, they had to collect points from the educational games about disaster. We also had our chance to play the games and exchange the points with the old toys, even though we didn’t bring our own toys at that time, haha we were so lucky! For your information, this event has already been adopted in many other countries around the world, including in Indonesia. It is considered to be one of effective ways to raise awareness and knowledge about disaster to people, especially to the kids and their parents. It was an all age event.
Arahama Elementary School, Sendai
In 11th March of 2011 (3-11), there was a great disaster happened in East Japan, called “The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami”. When the tsunami happened, the building of Arahama Elementary School became an evacuation center for 320 local residents, students, and school personnel. The tsunami surged up the 2nd floor, but almost everyone who had been evacuated to the school was able to escape safely to the rooftop. Unfortunately, there was one student who became a victim as he tried to come home when the earthquake occurred. Everyone in the school seemed to feel sorry about this tragedy. Now opened to the general public, the school is a memorial and museum that hopes to pass on the lessons learned to future generations.
Takenoura Lion Dance
Takenoura is a name of a fisherman village which was also affected by “The Great East Japan Tsunami and Earthquake” in 2011. Before the tsunami destroyed their home, there were 50 families who lived in this village, but now there are only 30 families staying in Takenoura Village and most of them are elder people. Many of the families left their homes, because they didn’t feel safe anymore.
In this village, we visited a house where Takenoura residents practice to dance and play traditional music of Japan. After seeing too much sadness from the disaster, I felt so touched by the extraordinary warmth atmosphere when I entered the house. The people here showed us happiness instead! With excitement and passion, they performed the Lion Dance with the upbeat drums and beautiful flute sound. This Lion Dance was how Takenoura villagers cheered everyone right after the tsunami happened. It is also believed to bring good fortunes to them. When everyone was evacuated because their house were destroyed, they made the Lion Dance’s costume by the stuff that they could easily find in the emergency camp, such as pillow, tin can, sandals, and blanket. They were so creative! It touched me when I watched their performance. I could feel their sincerity.
Hotel Elfaro in Onagawa
On the 4th day, HANDs! fellows stayed in a very unique hotel that was built after the tsunami. This hotel wasn’t in modern Japanese style, but in Spanish style instead! The owner was a middle aged woman who once had a lodging business before “The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami” destroyed it. This hotel has a very interesting design. Each building or room has wheels under its foundation, so it can be moved to other places. They name it “El faro” which means “the lighthouse” in Spanish, and her wish is for the hotel to become a lighthouse that will lead people around the world to Onagawa, Japan and its wonderful people that continue to recover and rebuild.
On the afternoon, HANDs! fellows travelled around Ishinomaki City with the Ishinomaki Future Support Association, to learn more about how the city was deeply affected by the earthquake and tsunami, and what steps that the city has taken to slowly recover within 6 years after the devastation tragedy.
Ishinomaki was among the municipalities that most seriously affected by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Several tsunamis, up to about 10 metres (33 ft) high, traveled inland up to 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the coast. The tsunami destroyed around 80% of the 700 houses in the coastal port of Ayukawa, and the Kadonowaki neighborhood was largely leveled. Approximately 46% of the city was inundated by the tsunami. As of 17 June 2011, a total of 3,097 deaths had been confirmed in Ishinomaki due to the tsunami, with 2,770 unaccounted for. Approximately 29,000 city residents lost their homes. Since the great tsunami happened, the population number of Ishinomaki always decreased every year until now.
Ishinomaki 2.0 was a community aimed to build Ishinomaki even better than before the tsunami. Our last day in Ishinomaki was closed by a workshop from Ishinomaki 2.0. This workshop was intended for us to brainstorm different ideas on how to stimulate and promote tourism in Ishinomaki. With tourism, Ishinomaki 2.0 believed that they can build a better Ishininomaki, especially from economy and population sector.
We were divided into groups of 5 to 6 to come up with a program idea. Again, our observing and design thinking skills were tested. Our group came up with an idea to make “Ishinomaki Festivals”, a collection of festival which held once every two months with different themes that are inspired by Ishinomaki’s many specialties. If there would be six festivals in a year, the first festival could highlight the fishery segment, where there would a Fisherman Market with variety of sea catch and sold with subsidized price; the second festival could be an exhibition of manga comic with a comic competition and the famous comic writers from Japan as the judges; and other festivals highlighting the specialities of Ishinomaki. It was hoped to attract people from outside Ishinomaki, even outside Japan. It also would potentially build togetherness of Ishinomaki residents.
Debriefing Session in Japan Foundation Tokyo
The series of our Japan HANDs! trip was closed by debriefing session at the hall room in Japan Foundation Headquarter Tokyo. This debriefing session was aimed to introduce the HANDs! Program to the residents and medias in Japan. Some of the fellows shared their experience during the trip and we showed the video of our trip in Philippine and Japan to the guests.
To be honest, Japan trip had been a very emotional one for me. I had a mixed feelings when I witnessed how a disaster could influenced big changes for a place and how people live. That was my first experience to be so close to a disaster issue. I have no family members or close friends who had experience a severe disaster, me included. My experience with small scale earthquakes couldn’t be compared with what they have been through.
I realized that to be prepared for any kind of disasters is very important, especially Indonesia is the third country which prone to disaster after Japan and China. This experience has changed my perspective about disaster. Despite all the bad things that every victim has to go through, there is always hope after that.
The trip to Japan had finally ended! Our next trip was Palangkaraya in my home country. After this first series of the trip, all fellows were given a task to submit our first draft of the Action Plan – an education project that we will implement in relation to disaster and environmental issue. We were able to change or revise the plans until our Indonesia trip ended. We even had a chance to collaborate with other fellows in a program. We were also instructed to prepare an educational game for kids in Palangkaraya, Indonesia! See you on my next story from the Kalimantan land 🙂