Kotonoha Team visits the Koike Naganuma Nishi Emergency Temporary Housing

The Koike Naganuma Nishi Emergency Temporary Housing in Minami-Soma City, Fukushima, is a temporary housing project that allows evacuees to come with their pets. The Kotonoha Team focuses its activity on the pets, which are a precious member of the family of the evacuees. We visited 29 homes in July and were able to collect priceless stories and statements full of love for their pets. We are now in the process of creating a booklet filled with their loving words. It is our hope that not only would it be a collection of photographs of cute animals, but that it would serve as a conversation starter for the residents of the temporary housing.
On Nov. 28, we visited the temporary housing again to show and have the residents check the contents of the booklet. We were glad that everyone welcomed the booklet and said that they were looking forward to seeing the finished product. After some revisions based on their remarks, we hope that it will turn out to be an even better booklet. (Chiharu Koike, 3rd year at Comparative Culture Studies)




Kotonoha Team, Minami-Soma Tour

Because of the code sharing with the College of Comparative Culture that started this year, the “Kotonoha Team” has been created. Applying the properties of its specialty, activities focused on “words” are being planned. As a start, we decided to visit the site and went on a tour of Minami-Soma City in Fukushima on May 10 and 11. (14 students, 4 instructors) The first day, we visited the Koike Naganuma Nishi Emergency Temporary Housing, where residents of the Odaka district, who suffered damages from both the tsunami and radiation, live. 
Minoru Matsumoto, Chief of the Odaka District Regional Development Division spoke to us about the damages and the reconstruction plans, and Shinichiro Raku, President of the Community Association, about the life at the temporary housing and its problems with reference to actual examples. Since the damages in the Odaka district are not the same across the board, we listened to stories by the evacuees from the eastern region, western region and central region. In the evening, we visited the home of Mikako Takahashi, President of Hokuyosha Cleaning, Japan, and a supporter of “Tsunagaro Minami-Soma”. She showed us some valuable video footage and told us about how she was among the first to reopen her cleaning business after the disastrous earthquake. The second day, we toured the Odaka district with Matsumoto-san, guided by Fumitoshi Kanazawa, Chief Curator of the Fukushima Museum. This is an area preparing for the lifting of the evacuation directive, and although a return in 2 years has been decided, the conditions are still as can be seen in the photograph. It was heart wrenching for us, too, to see the sad looks on Raku-san, Tamagawa-san and Inamura-san, who had come with us from the temporary housing. We also visited Rikuzenhama-kaido, Soma Odaka Shrine, Kashima Fukko Shopping Center and Michinoku Kashima Baseball Stadium. It was a two-day visit in which we felt we had learned things that we could never have known just by reading about them. (Takahashi)