East Japan Earthquake    March 11, 2011

On-site report
Mobile Kids' Fest & Kick Back Cafe

July 30, 2011

Children's smiles are the biggest force driving the recovery effort, that is why Mobile Kids' Fest took place in May.
The event was warmly received by everyone and both children and their parents enjoyed this time of fun.

The Kid's Fest staff dressed as friendly ninjas and played games and did activities with the children during the event.
The last time Mobile Kick Back was up north, many children who attended the May Kid's fest asked the staff when the next Mobile Kids' Fest would be.
In order to fulfill the requests that we had received since the 1st Mobile Kids' Fest, 28 staff members and volunteers went north for the 2nd Mobile Kids' Fest.
Of course, Mobile Kick Back opened, too.
People were able to enjoy the event and our delicious desserts.
There were a few teenagers that came as volunteers this time, and they were able to get to know some of the local teenagers in the places w visited.

There were 3 local teenagers that joined our group and participated as ninja.
They were hard working and had great attitudes. It was a joy to have them participating. They helped make this event special and encouraged the staff and volunteers of our team.
(they joined us in the early morning and dressed as ninjas)



This event was held in the same places as the last Kid's Fest, Hirota Elementary School and Takata 1st Middle School.
Due to the school year schedule being affected by the disaster, the summer break didn't start until July 30th which also happened to be the day this Kid's Fest was held.

The response to this event was better than the last, and those that came to the 1st Kid's Fest came to this one with high expectations of having a lot of fun.
As soon as the children saw the ninja's they waved their hands energetically to greet the entir staff.
"I'm gonna do a better job at janken (rock-scissors-paper) this time!", one child said recollecting his experience in the last event.
There were children that remember the names of some staff and hugged them and did not want to le go.
All of the staff were amazed by the depth of the relationship that was built through just one visit.
This time the presents given to the kids were mostly school supplies and fitness toys. Despite the last minute request for donations, many things wer collected. We received a lot of school supplies from people who sincerely wanted to help which was a great encouragement to the Kid's Fest staff.

Up North the children took their ninja training seriously in order to get their "treasures". It was very neat to see the children joyfully get the treasures they had been aiming to get.
The middle schoolers at Hirota.
They had their club sports, but since rain hit the area, their practices were canceled enabling them to come visit us.
Even if they couldn't have come to this event, they would have joined us in Takata.

The children of Hirota came and gathered with us.
At the end of the event, everyone got together and made the "Janken-train".
Migizo, the ninja, asked those present if they would come back if there was another event, and a fifth grade girl said quietly but firmly, "Of course! This is something we look forward to."
Everyone held hands tightly at the en of the event.


The microbus carrying the ninjas left for their next destination amidst the children saying goodbye to their dear ninjas.

The staff who have been there a couple of times have experienced a myriad of emotions through working with the kids and touring the devastate coastal area. Those who went up North for the first time were shocked by the extent of the devastation which can never fully be comprehended through what the media show us.

The next stop was Hirot 1st Middle School, which served as the biggest evacuation center in the city. On the day of the visit it was very quiet since most of those that were at this evacuation center had moved to temporary housing.
As they did the last time, the crew rented the music room and put on Mobile Kids' Fest.

The staff was energized by the children jumping up and down out of excitement.

At the "Mysterious photographs" booth, the children were in high spirits as little ninja's were made!

(at Hirota Elementary School)
Superimposed images were created and given as presents.
Members of the band Heavenese, drummer Ikki, and saxophonist Naoya, also played important roles.
They have been practicing hard for the upcoming U.S. tour, so they demonstrated some of their skills at Kid's Fest. There will be a Tengokumin concert in Hirota on August 15th.
"Does anyone want to play the taiko-drums," Ikki would ask.
There were a few that responded to the invitation and took hold of the stick that is used to hit the taiko-drums.
The children displayed amazing talent as this city is known for taiko-drums. Ikki was very impressed (it's possible he even felt his position was in danger).


There was a girl who lost her close friend as a result of the catastrophe. She kindly shared her experience with the staff.
At the time, she was in the 1st grade and, when the earthquake hit, she and her class were about to go home.
" immediately got under my desk as everyone is taught to do, and after the quake settled down, my class evacuated together.
My brother was in the 5t grade,but I couldn't find him because he used a different evacuation route. After awhile I was able to meet him and my mom."
She is now in temporary housing, but during that time she was in the evacuation center she came down with the flu and the skin disease impetigo. This girl went to Takata Elementary school, and it was hit by the tsunami. The 1st floor of every school building was inundated. Since then, the school has been cleaned.
"But many of my friends are now going to other schools,"
She has her badge, a souvenir from the last Kid's Fest pinned to her school cap which she wears to and from school everyday.

Even though there is a physical distance between us and them, and the fact that none of us experienced the catastrophe as they did, we are able to connect with them on a deeper level through these events.
As the microbus left the area, the children rode along on their bikes, waving goodbye until they couldn't see us anymore. In our effort to encourage thos affected by the disaster, we ourselves once again left being encouraged by them.


On-site Report ----------------------

Kana's Hometown
A building stands in the rubble in Rikuzentakata, northern Japan after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck the area, March 13, 2011.

Rikuzen-Takata:5,000 Homes Under Water and 15,000 People Missing

On March 12th, the Self Defense Force of Japan started its rescue efforts of most all of the households of the city of Rikuzen-Takata that has been demolished by the recent earthquakes which is estimated at 5,000. From the rescue efforts in Takata area, the most damaged area, 52 bodies were recovered on the 12th, and on the 13th, 114 more bodies, totaling 166 in the 2 days. The rescue effort, however, has been slowed because of the debris blocking all traffic to the city whose population is 23,000. According to the task force of the city, roughly 8,000 people are staying in emergency evacuated areas. The city is doing what they can to locate the the rest of the population. The City Hall, a 4-story building, was engulfed by the tsunami and out of 300 workers there, the whereabouts of 100 employees hav not been determined. Also, the city resident registry has been lost causing difficulty in identifying who the victims are.
There has been some positive news as the Self Defense Force of Japan has been successful rescuing 37 people isolated from roofs of buildings. Rescue efforts will continue. (March 13, 7:48PM(JST), NHK)



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