June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
So I’m back to Arizona, my home sweet home, after being away for 5 months on a global voyage with Peace Boat. I was working as a Japanese Web Reporter / Photographer to document the daily events that go on board and special reports for on location, write multiple reports everyday for general audiences who are interested in what life on board is like, for family members who are on land to know where their loved ones are at, and for passengers to reflect back on their voyage after their trip is over. I wrote close to 200 reports, and I cannot begin to tell you how difficult it was! Writing in Japanese was definitely a big challenge for me. I’ve acted the messenger role with Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami project where I wrote the survivor stories of the people in Ishinomaki, but it was always in English. It was my first time being away from home, and working in a Japanese setting, so language and culture was a lot to take in. The electronic dictionary (電子辞書) was my best friend.
I went in with the mindset that “I’m young, it’s 0kay to make mistakes, it’s a MUST to ask questions because I don’t know everything, “ And let me tell ya, I made many mistakes, I asked so many questions, and realized there are kind people that have a lot to share and are willing to lend a hand. With my 105 days on board, I learned to appreciate people on a deeper level because they were there when I was in a time of need. There are more to each country than what tourism has to offer, especially with the cultural exchange tours that Peace Boat provides, it was great to interact with locals in their environment and have that experience. Here are some of the photos of the countries I went to that are on view on my website. See full albums on http://www.airikatsuta.com/global-voyage
Here is a little bit of a preview, but you can go to my website to see more! And I was blessed with an opportunity to go on another voyage with Peace Boat as a web reporter again. So in November (which is in a couple more months!) I’ll be in Japan and then off to explore the world again. In the meantime, I am making art in different mediums (photography, origami, india ink, watercolor, ceramics, and even henna!) I am working at the Phoenix Art Museum being a Gallery Attendant, Control Room Operator, Projectionist, and back at Method Art Gallery being an assistant to Davin Lavikka and doing multiple duties. Hopefully I’ll have an exhibition coming up there so I will keep you guys posted!
August 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
I have another showing of Resilience coming up in September 19-22 at The Academy Theatre . You can catch it again for those of you who missed the first showing at Method Art Gallery. This time it is more focused on the stories of the residents, with narratives that go along with the photographs. I will also be giving a talk at the reception on Friday, September 20th, 6-9 pm. The 1000 Cranes for Ishinomaki will also be on display.
As a bonus feature to the show, I will be showcasing the fashion photography I have been doing lately in the lounge area. It will be the first time being shown in a gallery space so I’m very excited.
September 3, 2012 § 2 Comments
After seeing the beautiful display from the artists from Taiwan, I went to a souvenir store right down the street. It was called Hidemaruya, and they had Ishinomaki t-shirts that they sold for around $20. The shirts said things like “Never give up Ishinomaki” or “Ganbappe, Ishinomaki”. I had seen these shirts last year but didn’t have money to spend when I was volunteering, so I was happy to purchase them :)
After looking around the store for a while, the owner asked me where I came from. When I said the United States and that I was here last year volunteering, she was surprised and let me sit down and look at her photo album that contained lots of tsunami related pictures/newspaper clippings. She was hesitant at first but she started sharing her stories with me.
“It was like a dream”, she said. “It all happened in an instant…just one moment… like what happened?” On 3-11, she was here at the store, and her house is on the second floor. She felt it shook, and ran out side, but she heard her neighbors shouting that the tsunami was coming. She ran up to her home, and ended up staying up there for 2 days. At night it was cold with snow falling down, only a gas stove to keep her and her husband warm, and only one candle for light. Thankfully, she had a fridge full of food so they didn’t starve like many of her neighbors.
“There were many people that I knew that lost their lives looking for their family members. They went out when the tsunami came,” she said almost in a whisper. “You have to take care of your own life first. Because what do you have when you lose yourself? Just make a place to meet up when things like this happen.”
Unlike all the people that I met, she didn’t aestheticize the recovery effort. She wasn’t negative about it, but rather realistic. “The recovery/reconstruction isn’t in the near future.” She said with lines between her eyebrows, “We’ve become so dependent on other people, especially volunteers. We can’t be like this forever.” She said she felt like she was going crazy after losing her store. Her store sold yarn and knitting products. “I can’t just not do anything. I told myself I must become independent.” And that’s why she started a whole new venue making souvenir t-shirts. She felt that with volunteers and tourists coming into Ishinomaki, she could let them take a memory of Ishinomaki with them by selling these shirts.
After learning her love for knitting/crocheting, I gave her one of the crochet cats. She loved it! “Thank you so much. I want to start my yarn store again, but it’s so hard when there’s hardly any customers anymore. I hope Ishinomaki will become a better place than before. I know it’s going to take a while, but my wish is that Ishinomaki will be more independent.”
August 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
Sorry I haven’t been posting for a while. I was running around all over Japan, literally.
After leaving Ishinomaki on the 20th, i got back to Kanagawa, my sister left on a 89 day cruise, I rode the bullet train (Shinkansen) because I missed my overnight bus, I visited my grandparents and cousins in Nara, and met up with my friends and family. It’s been a hectic trip. I am currently trying to stuff everything in my suitcase, and it’s been about 6 hours since I started. This is never fun. Haha
It has been an amazing month full of discoveries and surprises. But I think I’m ready to go home and sleep in my own bed. Seems like all the pillows I sleep on here is like a bean bag and it’s making my neck hurt!
I will be posting all the pictures along with the stories when I get back to Arizona. Don’t think I forgot!
August 19, 2012 § 2 Comments
As I was riding my bike along the Manga Road, I saw pretty colors peeking from the corner of the street. I stopped to see what was going on, and saw adorable chalk drawings on the pavement. I’ve never seen chalk drawing so beautiful in my life. Seeing this brought a smile to my face as well as the locals. This brightened up the street!
After staring and lurking and taking a bunch of pictures, these nice people explained to me that they’re a group of artists from Taiwan supporting Ishinomaki. Different styles of artists were here and they told me they painted murals on houses and made public art to bring joy into the town. They also gave me a good luck charm :)
They told me I can contribute to the drawings so I put my drawing skills to the test….
And I drew a cat. But someone said it looks like Pink Panther. I guess they’re kinda right lol
My cat looks like it was done by a 4 year old compared to this great looking mountain next to it! Mad props!
Lots of locals told me they are really thankful for the organization from Taiwan. Some elderly people kept their cash at home so they lost most of their savings in the tsunami. The locals said the people from Taiwan handed out money to anyone who got in line. These people were painting a very large mural on the side of the building. They each had their own distinctive style. I didn’t stay long enough to see it completed, so I can’t wait to go back and check it out :)
August 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
After visiting Tsuda-san, Ted and I visited Kawamura Magobe gravesite. Kawamura Magobe is an important person in Ishinomaki history. He was a technical expert in Omi Province, and he constructed the Port of Ishinomaki at the mouth of Kitakami-gawa River. Peace boat volunteers worked hard to clean up this gravesite, but the clean up isn’t complete yet.
Then we went to the Chinese restaurant near Kaska. It was so cheap! And lots of food! I was stuffed.
I found a funy looking fish/lizard? It’s called a Ooper Looper. I’ve never seen anything like this, it looked like a Pokemon.
This is a paper company located right by the coast. Paper and water doesn’t go well together, so after the tsunami most of their materials were ruined. The huge rolls of paper was very heavy when it soaked up all the water.
This is a museum that displays the San Juan Bautista, a Spanish style galleon built in the 17th century. Though this is a replica, the actual ship was built in 1613 by Date Masamune, the lord of the Sendai Clan. The ship transported an envoy to the Pope in Rome, stopping at Acapulco, Mexico on the way. The boat had very minimal damage from the tsunami but the museum was closed.
Most of the beaches are closed for swimming since not everything is cleaned up from all the scraps. This beach is mostly for fishing tho.
I asked this fisherman how it’s like fishing here. He said he could catch all different kinds of fish before but he said “the bottom of the sea is all messed up because of the tsunami. I can’t catch any fish!” Even if he can’t catch anything, he still comes here to fish. I’m guessing he comes here to relax.
Oyster harvesting is very big in Ishinomaki, and it’s considered the main area that imports oyster seeds to all over the world. I LOVE OYSTERS, and it was cool to see how they raise baby oysters. This made me salivate a little bit.
We then went to the fish market. Originally, this market was placed right near the coast, but they relocated for now. This fish was huge! I wear a size 6 shoe so like 3 of my shoes was the size of this fish!
I’ve never seen a sea urchin with the spikes on. All I could think was sushi. I bet the fresh ones tastes really good :)
She was cleaning the insides out to get the meat out of it. She was using a tweezer very carefully to get the black parts out and leaving the orangey/yellowish insides.
I finally got to eat some oysters! This particular one wasn’t grown in Ishinomaki, but it was fresh nonetheless. Oyster season is around November, and they even have a festival dedicated to them! Hopefully next year, I can go to one of them and eat lots and lots of oysters! :)
August 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
After riding around my bike around the coastline, and getting lost and going in circles for a while, I finally got back to my hotel. Ted was already waiting for me at the lobby to take me to see Tsuda-san and her daughters.
Ted was very fond of them while he was with Peace boat. They worked on Tsuda-san’s house for 3 months from May to August, and a little bit of September. They told me they had at least 100 volunteers come by to help with the clean up.
As you can see from the picture above, Tsuda-san’s house was severely damaged. Though her husband is a construction worker for temporary homes, he was very busy working in Sendai. Peace boat came around May, but her husband and her husband’s father dug out most of the trash from their house.
Ted and Tsuda-san was reminiscing the cleaning days.
The odd yoga ball was there for some reason. Tsuda-san started sharing what happened on 3-11. “The earthquake was very scary. Anna, my youngest daughter hid under the table. I was watching TV at the time, and when everything started shaking I was trying to hold up the TV! It was expensive so I didn’t want it to fall and break!”, she joked around. “Too bad I had to throw it away since it got wet. It was a nice TV. Haha.”
“After hearing the tsunami warning, my daughter and I left the house in my car. We weren’t sure where we were going, but headed to the evacuation center. But on the way, we realized we didn’t grab anything. So we drove back to the house using the small streets, and Anna saw the water slowly spreading from the ocean. It was eerie how slow it spread, but cars and houses were moving too.” “If we took the main street where it was crowded, we could’ve been caught in the tsunami.” They safely got to the evacuation center on time.
Tsuda-san’s eldest daughter, didn’t say too much at first. She was looking in to her house in a bittersweet way. It’s so clean compared to before, they kept saying. She also helped out the cleaning alongside the volunteers shoveling mud/sludge. When I asked her where she was on 3-11, she said she was at school. “After the earthquake, everyone evacuated outside. But when we heard the tsunami warning, we went back inside. And then everyone from around town came to our school to evacuate. We were all on the third floor, but the students had to be on the 2nd floor. Like my mother said, the water came in slow. And all the cars were slowly sinking.” “We didn’t have anything to eat, so our teachers brought candy from the teacher’s lounge. We got one piece of candy each. My father came and picked me up after the water had gone down, so I didn’t have to stay at school for too long.”
The water rose up to where her hand is. The first floor of their house was completely submerged. The glass doors broke so they had so much sludge and trash come into the house. When I asked if they plan on living in this house again, and they said they weren’t sure. “We started living in my husband’s father’s house who lives 5 minutes away. He’s happy that we live with him now, but my kid’s and my husband goes to Sendai everyday for work and school. We still haven’t paid off the house yet, so I don’t know if we should move or not.” Her kids takes an hour to go to school everyday.
“We started cleaning the house and we found a body in this room. I don’t know who it was or how it got in here, but we say a prayer whenever we come here now.” A lot of bodies that were found all over town were unclaimed or unidentifiable.
The sisters were very kind and very smart! The older one is going to school to become a nurse or a government health inspector. They both like sports and the younger one is going to a prefecture-wide conference. They also gave me a lot of pictures they took after the tsunami so I plan on scanning them and sharing that when I get back to the states.
Thank you, Tsuda Family!