Troy, Bert and I arrived in Tokyo and met up with Mr. Yoshiteru Yamada, the president of DIYNA City Company. We had planned on having a pizza and spam musubi party for one of the temporary housing areas in the Tohoku prefecture and went to Yamada-san’s office at the Ochanomizu station to gather and prepare all the necessary items. We took the shinkansen to Ichinoseki and from there, drove to Rikuzentakata, a coastal city further north of Minamisanriku where Paul and I did some work last year.
When we touched down at Rikuzentakata we met up with the relief trip’s contact, Iku-chan. We also met Mr. Konno, the community center’s leader and Kimura-san, a master landscape designer. Our make shift group started preparing the pizza and musubi party. Mr. Yamada and I were in charge of the musubi, while Troy, Bert and Kimura-san took care of the pizza. A task that took us nearly three hours! (We were serving about 84 different households, meaning there was a lot of musubi and pizza)
Looking around I was disheartened to see that not much has changed from when I last did relief work. While the piles of mountain-high debris have lessened, the roads remained washed out and people used make shift paths. Everyone that has been living in temporary housing that the government provided will only be allow to stay until March/April of next year. With no homes or relatives to turn to, this really worries the community residents.
It seems that people have adjusted to life in these clusters of container homes. Children are participating in team sports activities with their mothers driving them to practice. I was surprised at the amount of people driving cars. When we arrived on Saturday morning the lot was practically empty; however, it filled up after dinner.
We had about 100 people come to our party ranging from infants to those well into their 90’s. For many, it was their first time eating spam musubi and the type of pizza Troy cooked. The pizza party was a hit! People were extremely happy and grateful for what we did.
When we returned from the onsen to have our dinner we were shocked at the food prepared for us. We were content with eating leftovers from the party but were treated to an extravagant meal of regional dishes the likes I’ve never had before. The way that the kabocha salad, hotate with vegetables and sashimi were prepared were new and refreshing (not to mention delicious). Mr and Mrs. Konno, Iku-san and another elderly lady joined us for our feast which we thoroughly enjoyed. We all felt really bad to be served such fine foods and for the community to use precious resources on us. Mr. Yamada had informed us that he let Iku-chan know we would take care of our own meals (eating food from the convenience store), but the community’s hospitality was overwhelming. I will never forget it.
We all had a great time just talking and laughing throughout the night. Tomorrow we’ll be making some picnic tables for the community to use.