This weekend I had an amazing opportunity to help translate the 石巻日日こども新聞 (Ishinomaki hi bi kodomo shinbun/Ishinomaki Children’s daily newspaper) at The Japan Foundation. Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture (Tohoku) was one the most seriously affected cities after the March 11th earthquake in 2011. Thousands of people sadly lost their lives and homes, and even now, there are many still living in temporary homes. In March 2012 the children of Ishinomaki created the Ishinomaki hi bi kodomo shinbun as a means of telling people how they are doing, and how they have been since the earthquake. This year, 2 years later, they want to tell the whole world.
We started of this translation workshop by skyping with people live in Ishinomaki. We were lucky enough to speak to Michiko Ota (representative of Kid’s Media Station), Hiroyuki Takeuchi (executive director of Ishinomaki hi bi shinbun and director of Ishinomaki News), Hiroto Chiba (2nd year at Higashi Matsushima High School) and Momoka Saito (3rd year at Hebita Junior High School). They showed us a short 5 minute video of the moment the earthquake and tsunami struck along with the aftermath, which 2 years later is still an emotional and difficult clip to watch. Takeuchi-san explained that two years later he did not know how to feel and described it as ふくざつ (complex). Takeuchi-san told us how grateful he, and everyone else, were to the many volunteers and for the many messages sent from all over the world to Japan (「頭を下がる多いで感謝」). But his other message was 自立 (jiritsu) – independence, self-reliance – どうやって? How do we achieve this?
Everyone in the room also got a chance to ask questions to Takeuchi-san. The Q&A turned rather emotional when someone in the room asked what else we could give to the children of Ishinomaki, in terms of volunteering or donations. Takeuchi-san replied with how grateful they already were, but what the children wanted most of all was to listen to all these international volunteers’ experiences and stories and to play together. When we spoke to the students Saito-san and Chiba-san they were both very shy, and it was very endearing to watch them as they thanked everyone, and also took turns asking us questions. Chiba-san asked a very interesting question: how would the UK respond if there ever was such a big earthquake there? And I think we all agreed that we certainly would not know what to do if there was ever such an earthquake here! I mean, we can barely handle a bit of snow.
Chiba-san would like to one day become a non-fiction author, and Saito-san has a lot of interest in foreign countries, and hopes to one day travel abroad. However, both of them love their hometown Ishinomaki and would always return no matter where their future took them. I hope our translation will help them transmit their message of thanks and let people know that Tohoku still needs our help. I sincerely wish both of them (and everyone else) the best of luck! 忘れないよ！