Tomodachi Let’s Talk- Ganbappe Tohoku!

Outgoing Tomodachi co-chair Hiroko Dewitz, Incoming co-chair and guest speaker Ray Tabata, and co-chair Shirley Miyamoto. Ray's shirt says "ganbappe" which is Tohoku dialect for "ganbare" (do your best).

Outgoing Tomodachi co-chair Hiroko Dewitz, Incoming co-chair and guest speaker Ray Tabata, and co-chair Shirley Miyamoto. Ray’s shirt says “ganbappe” which is Tohoku dialect for “ganbare” (do your best).

On Thursday, September 20, Tomodachi members and their guests gathered at the exclusive Waialae Country Club for the seventh annual “Let’s Talk Luncheon.” Our featured guest speaker was incoming Tomodachi co-chair Ray Tabata. 

Ray Tabata retired from the University of Hawaii in 2011 where he worked for over 30 years as an extension specialist for Hawaii Sea Grant and an educational program specialist at the UH medical school. For the one year anniversary of the great Tohoku earthquake, Ray was able to visit several places in Aomori, Iwate, and Miyagi prefectures to learn about volunteer activities and photo document his journey.

 Many businesses were trying to make a comeback such as this bus converted into a soba and udon shop

Many businesses were trying to make a comeback such as this bus converted into a soba and udon shop

Ray described the damages of the tsunami. Sea walls which were over 30 feet high offered a false sense of security as they were not enough the protect the coast. His overall impression of the affected areas was that people still have positive spirits despite their circumstances. Ray is already planning his trip for the second anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami.

A volunteer group works to rebuild the community center in Ofunato, Iwate. Volunteers are needed not only for rebuilding housing but also for food preparation and distribution, especially to seniors. Ray encouraged guests to continue to help the Tohoku area in any way that they can

A volunteer group works to rebuild the community center in Ofunato, Iwate. Volunteers are needed not only for rebuilding housing but also for food preparation and distribution, especially to seniors. Ray encouraged guests to continue to help the Tohoku area in any way that they can

JASH would like to thank Ray Tabata for sharing his story of his firsthand experience in the Tohoku area. Thank you also to Tomodachi co-chair Shirley Miyamoto who made all the arrangements for Waialae Country Club. Also a big otsukaresama to outgoing co-chair Hiroko Dewitz for her two years of hard work.