Return to Tohoku

An empty field spread out in front of me to the piers, broken only by foundations of homes and a checkerboard of cleared lines where roads once ran. A multi-story concrete building lay on its side like a beached whale. Here and there, piles of incongruous rubble dot the landscape, remnants of the town that no longer exists. A year later, scenes of the destruction are still poignantly visible. So this is what the kids have to look at every day, I thought to myself as I made my way to the surrounding hillside to Onagawa First Junior High School, saved from the destruction because it perched on a hill. I had come to Onagawa to see for myself what the four students we hosted in Hawaii were going through. Misato-chan, Saki-chan, Takanori-kun, and Shoya-kun were in school that day, no doubt talking about their experiences in Hawaii the previous month. I stopped by the temporary shelters that house these students, built on the only flat land that was available, a neighboring school’s athletic field. A tent in the middle of the complex served as its community activity center. Throughout the short visit, I felt the trials of the children’s daily life. And they must look at that scenery, down to the town that has disappeared, where 800 died or are missing, as they walk to and from their cramped apartments. Reaching out and touching even a few children at a time is well worth the effort, I thought. This is why we do this project: to give them new dreams

Temporary apartments built on a school athletic field near the middle school

Temporary apartments built on a school athletic field near the middle school

JASH and its Rainbow for Japan Kids project will host the fourth group of Japanese students from July 16-23. The project’s partner in Japan, the Bikki Organization, is currently recruiting the next 20 students, including from the town of Onagawa.

JASH and its partners would like to thank all the donors, volunteers, and supporters who make this program possible. We also would like to acknowledge the support of TOMODACHI initiative that provided funding for this program, and the donation from Mrs. Susie Roos, wife of Ambassador John Roos, who continues to provide assistance to the children of Onagawa. We look forward to continuing this project for the next several years.

Onagawa First Junior High School, the school four students who came to Hawaii for Rainbow for Japan Kids attend

Onagawa First Junior High School, the school four students who came to Hawaii for Rainbow for Japan Kids attend

The view from the Junior High School, to what remains of the town of Onagawa

The view from the Junior High School, to what remains of the town of Onagawa