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GO ALOHA GO (Kaishow Caravan)

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Mr. Kaisho on a mission in Sendai

Mr. Kaisho had returned from his trip from Sendai and had a lot to share with us on his experience. Previously, we reported on his mission just before he left.  We asked him via email to explain why he went on such a dangerous trip to the areas that were heavily damaged by the recent tsunami. We received a very inspiring story that we hope to share with as many people possible.

See also: Youtube video playlist (lists 12 videos)

Translated (日本語は下にあります。):

On the evening of that fateful day, March 10 (March 11 in Japan), I was enjoying a barbecue at a friend’s house. Mr. Nakai of Stamina Ramen was there, as well as a mother and her children visiting from Tokyo. We were in the middle of having a really good time.

The mother got a sudden phone call from her husband in Tokyo. He was crouched under a desk and said that a massive earthquake had struck, and that the tremors hadn’t yet stopped.

My cell phone rang next. It was from a friend in Hawaii. In a flustered voice, he asked: “Have you seen the news on TV? It’s a freaking catastrophe!”

In the moment I rushed to turn on the TV, we were soon rendered speechless by what we saw. It was like a scene from a disaster movie. The word “Live” flashed on the right corner of the screen.

The silence was broken by the sound of soft sobbing behind me. The younger girls cried while watching the horrific live footage.

Our five-year-old daughters see things differently from us adults. They saw familiar-looking towns in Japan which they associated with fun being swallowed by a wave of pitch-black water. We saw footage of people trying escape in cars and on foot.

Even after a week had passed, and then a month, I could not get these scenes out of my head. I couldn’t help but worry about the children affected by the disaster. I felt that they could only stop and stare in the cold as they watched people, vehicles, houses, and dead bodies being washed away before their very eyes.

My daughters had become distraught just by seeing the live footage on TV. So it was incomprehensible to think what surviving children—who lost family, friends, homes, and everything else they had—were going through. Feelings that I could not even dream to express began to well up inside me.

I then thought: My kids and the children of Hawaii could make a connection with surviving children despite the distance between them by showing their support. I came with the idea for “Aloha Snacks.” These would be snacks from Hawaii taped with a photo and a heartfelt message from the kids.

The principal at my daughter’s elementary school immediately gave her approval. Although my wife severely objected when I told her I was going to the disaster zone, in time she took charge passing out fliers and collecting Aloha Snacks every morning and evening before and after school with other Japanese mothers. Our neighbors and the elementary school principal in the next town started to pitch in as well. Together with the snacks brought by members of the Tenrikyo congregation in Hawaii, we collected a total of roughly 200 kilos or 441 lbs. (roughly 2000 pieces) of snacks.

It was a mind-boggling amount, so I contacted Daniel Higaki. With his help we were somehow able to negotiate with Japan Airlines and had them designate the snacks as relief supplies when I took them to Japan. Thank you, thank you, oh thank you, Daniel!

Giving "Aloha Snacks" to the children in a shelter.

We had an ample amount of snacks, so I was able to distribute them to kids at roughly 20 evacuation shelters and five or six elementary schools as well as in front of the train station. I’d like to shout out my deepest appreciation to school officials, parents, and the Tenrikyo congregation in Hawaii for your kokua. There were messages written in English as well as freshly learnt Japanese. There were pictures of boys and girls. I am convinced that the kids have kept them as precious mementos.

As you may know, the tsunami washed their photos, letters, and everything else away. It’s very likely that the messages you wrote were the first letters the kids got since the disaster struck. Later, when a church minister in Hawaii told me that his niece got an e-mail thanking her for her Aloha Snack, I was so very, very happy.

Slides of the pictures I took were shown to all students at the closing ceremony at my daughter’s school. I heard that some teachers watched with tears in their eyes. I believe that the kids must have realized that they truly did something wonderful by donating their Aloha Snacks when they saw those pictures. At the same time, there may have been a few kids who regretted not being able to donate this time. Still, I think this experience will cause them to give when the next opportunity arises.

The Stamina Ramen Team

What I am hoping for is that someone will step up and continue what I started. It doesn’t really matter who goes. What matters is that someone goes to spread the message that everyone in Hawaii is thinking of them to as many survivors as they can. It is my deepest hope that the survivors will cheer up, even just a little, when they learn this.

It doesn’t matter who you are, stay the course! Go! Go! Stay the course! It’s doesn’t matter what shape or form you do it!

Caravan Itinerary

May 7
Arrived at Narita Airport. I got on a late-night bus in Shinjuku departing for Sendai. It was a bumpy ride on the highway and I couldn’t sleep.

May 8

The "Stamen" (Stamina Ramen) Truck

Arrived at Sendai Station at 5:00 a.m. My friend in Sendai (whose younger brother is still missing), came to pick me up. We immediately went to prepare the “Stamen” truck and buy vegetables for the ramen. When we mentioned to the farmers that we were going to use the vegetables to cook ramen for survivors, they refused to take our money. Instead, I ended up bowing my head over and over, saying, “Arigato, arigato.” The Stamen Team arrived that evening and we made finally preparations and huddled for a meeting.

May 9
We filled buckets and plastic tanks with water and headed for Ishinomaki City in the early morning. We began in front of the train station where there was still rubble everywhere. We ended up serving more people that we expected and headed to Minamisanriku that evening. We served ramen in near a park in an area still strewn with rubble until about 10:00 p.m.

May 10
Again, we filled our buckets and tanks with water in the early morning and headed to an isolated area beyond Kesennuma City. After this, we went to a junior high school that was being used as an evacuation shelter. We served a total of 2000 bowls of ramen in two days.

May 11


The Stamen Team left for Tenri early that morning. I loaded a friend’s SUV with a sleeping bag, camping equipment, and a map and headed for Ofunato City in Iwate Prefecture by myself. My Sendai friend told me not to go because it was too dangerous. He told me that there were at least one or two aftershocks a day as well as thieves in the area armed with knives and metal bats. I promised that I would make sure to camp at night in an upland area and he let me go. I spent the days until May 16 camping, doing hinokishin, and distributing Aloha Snacks.

May 16
I left for Tokyo on a late-night bus from Sendai. I then headed to Jiba via bullet train to Kyoto.

May 17
I arrived in Jiba. I conducted a prayer service in the Main Sanctuary. After exchanging farewells with the Stamen Team, I left for Honolulu on May 18.

List of places visited

May 12

Kaishow Caravan. Taken May 12, 2011.

Ofunato City
1 Junior high school gym (currently used as a shelter)

Rikuzentakata City
2 Elementary school gym (currently used as a shelter) and nearby temporary housing
3 Sun Village Takata, a multiathletic facility
4 Kojuen Special Nursing Home
5 Rikuzentaka Shiritsu Daiichi Junior High School

May 13
Kesennuma City
6 Oya Community Center
7 Seiryoin (Soto Zen temple)

8 Heisei no Mori
9 Utatsu Junior High School
10 Hotel Kanyo
11 Shizugawa Junior High School
12 Shizugawa High School

May 14
Ishinomaki City
13 Nokkori Sun Park
14 Nagao Life Center
15 Osu Life Center
16 Onagawa All-Purpose Gymnasium
17 Onagawa Kaizen Center
18 Onagawa Daiichi Day Care Center
19 Onagawa Daiichi Elementary School
20 Nango Gymnasium
(All Aloha Snacks were given out by this day)

May 15
Higashimatsushima City
21 Contributed hinokishin at a shelter

(translated by TR Translation staff)

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Original Message from Tomohito Kaisho


Here is the reason why I did it.

あ の日3/10(日本時間3/11)は夕方から友達の家でバーベキューをして楽しんでいた。そこには知り合いの案内でハワイに来ていたスタメンの中井さんの 姿もあり、友達の知り合いで東京から観光で来てた親子もいた。みんなでワイワイ騒いでいたら、その親子のお母さんの携帯が突然なって、東京に居る旦那さん からだと言う。旦那さんは家の机のしたから電話をかけているらしく、とんでもなくデカい地震が襲っていてまだ揺れているという。次に自分の電話がなり、ハ ワイの友達だった。えらいテンパった声で「テレビ見てるか?えらい事になってるぞ。」という。そして慌ててテレビを付けた瞬間そこにいた全員が絶句した。 まるで映画そのままの映像だったが、テレビの右上には 「LIVE」の表示があった。沈黙の中で後ろからすすり泣く声が聞こえた。うちの2番めの娘と友達の2番めの娘がそのライブ映像を見ながら泣いていた。大 人とは違う感覚を持つ5歳の娘達。見なれた、楽しいはずの日本の街が真っ黒な水に呑まれて行く。逃げ回る人や車が映像には映っていた。一週間経っても、 一ヶ月経ってもその時の光景が頭から離れず、被災した子供達のことがずっと気になって気になってしょうがなかった。あの子供達は目の前で人や車、家や遺体 が流されていくのをあの寒さの中で唯々見つめるしかなかったと思った。テレビのライブ映像を観ただけであれだけ取り乱した自分の娘達と、被災地で家族や友 達、家や日常の全てを失った子供達の事を考えると比較にはならないが、何とも言えない言葉に言い表せられない気持ちが下からどんどん湧いてきた。うちの子 供達、ハワイの子供達が被災地の子供達を応援することでこの遠く離れた2つの場所を結ぶことができると考えた。自分なりに一番いいと考えた方法があの「ア ロハスナック」。ハワイのスナックに写真とメッセージをテープで貼りつけただけだが何とも言えない温かい子供達の手作り「アロハスナック」。娘の小学校で は校長先生がすぐ賛同してくれて、最初は私が被災地に行く事を大反対したうちの妻が中心となって、日本人のお母さん達が毎朝、毎夕学校の始業前と始業後に 校門の前でビラ配りとアロハスナックの回収を行ってくれた。そのうち、近所の人や隣町の小学校の校長先生までもが立ち上がってくれた。伝道庁管内の信者さ んから集まったスナックと合わせて合計約200kg(約2000個)が集まった。とんでもない数だったのでダニエル 桧垣さんに連絡して無理矢理JALと交渉して貰った。ダニエルさんの交渉のお陰で救援物資扱いで私の体と一緒に日本へ運ぶことができた。ダニエルさんホン マにホンマにありがとう。スナックの数も十分あったので約20箇所の避難所と5・6箇所の学校や駅前で子供たちに配ることができた。サポートしてくれた学 校の関係者や父兄のみなさん、伝道庁管内みなさんには感謝感謝です。英語で書かれたメッセージもあれば、習いたての日本語で書かれたメッセージもある。男 の子顔もあれば女の子の顔もある。多分あのメッセージは被災地の子供達が大事にとっておいてくれているでしょう。あの子達は写真や手紙も全て流されてし まったんです。もしかしたら、あのスナックのメッセージが子供達とって震災後はじめての手紙になったかもしれません。後日、とあるハワイの会長さんからア ロハスナックを宅した姪っ子に被災地の子どもからイーメールでありがとうと連絡があったと聞いてホントにホントに嬉しかった。娘の学校では終業式の時、全 校生徒に私の撮ってきた写真をスライドショーで流してくれた。先生達の中には涙を流していた人もいたという。スナックを宅した子供達はあの写真をみて本当 にいいことをしたことに改めて気づいたと思う。残念ながらスナックを宅せなかった子供達は少し後悔したかもしれない。でもそれが次に絶対繋がると思うので いいと思う。今回の話を聞いた誰かが立ち上がって後に続いてくれればと思っています。誰が行ったかは全く関係のないことで、ハワイのみんなが被災地のこと をこんなに心配しているよって事ができるだけたくさんの人に伝わってくれる事、被災した人達が少しでも元気になってくれる事を心から願っています。




5/8 早朝5時 仙台駅着。仙台の友達(彼の弟も未だに行方不明)の迎えですぐスタメン号のトラックの準備とスタメン用の野菜類の仕入れ。農家の方が被災地でラーメンを作 るというと野菜のお金をとってくれない。それどころか「ありがとう」「ありがとう」と何度も頭を下げられた。夕方スタメンチーム仙台着。全員でトラックの 最終セッティングと打ち合わせ。



5/11 早朝スタメンチームは天理へ出発。私は友達の用意してくれた車に寝袋とキャンプ用具と地図を積んで一人で一路岩手の大船渡へ。仙台の友達には危ないからで きればやめてくれといわれた。 ただ、夜寝る時だけは必ず高台まで行ってキャンプをすることを約束してスタートした。そこから16日までキャンプをしながらひのきしんとアロハスナックを 配る毎日。



1 中学校内体育館避難所

2 小学校内体育館避難所&仮設住宅
3 サンビレッジ内避難所
4 高寿園老人ホーム内避難所
5 市立第一中学校内避難所

6 大谷公民館
7 清涼院

8 平成の森
9 歌津中学校
10 ホテル観洋
11 志津川中学
12 志津川高校

13 にっこりサンパーク
14 長尾生活センター
15 大須生活センター
16 女川総合体育館
17 女川改善センター
18 女川第一保育園
19 女川第一小学校
20 南郷体育館

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