Makinohara, Shizuoka. Kenji Ooishi
I’ve been writing articles for Tono Magokoro Net homepage since April. To attract volunteers, I’ve been trying my best to describe the damage of the greatest earthquake in our history and the recovery efforts made by the victims. Along with the challenges, I’ve also emphasized the significance of the work carried out by the first Japanese volunteer group who are known as “civil logistic support group” to bring in as many volunteers as possible.
Thanks to the appeal made by staff members to media and our policy of accepting any volunteers at any time, the number of volunteers increased from 80 to 300 people and peaked during the national holidays where it reached 576 in total. I am appreciative of all the Magokoro staffs who came from various parts of the world and shared their stories of their experience to people back in their hometown. As a result, many inspired volunteers with a wide range of age groups gathered to Magokoro Net. In the end, after 3 months following the tragedy, I left for my hometown with fulfillment and a bit of loneliness.
I’ve been working at a sports newspaper company as a journalist for the last 20 years. Due to family issues, I decided to leave the company and start a new life. However, as I ended one of my chapters of life, the disaster happened. As a person who lived in an area where huge earthquakes have been anticipated for more than 30 years; as a homeowner of a property that is only 5 meters above sea level; and as a resident living in a town with a nuclear power plant nearby, I took the disaster very personally. Without considering the possibility of repercussion, I convinced my wife and child to let me volunteer. After registering and being recruited by Shizuoka Volunteer Association, I decided to go to Tono for 2 months.
After the experience of arranging items in a relief aid warehouse and being a part of a fish cleaning staff, I got consent from the other staffs and took up a post as the chief newsletter publisher to report on these volunteering activities and the effects from the devastation. I had the most powerful experience in my life through the work in the affected area. With actual experience and pictures from those who were directly impacted. Tono Magokoro Net is a group of people who are free and filled with vitality. There were various beliefs within each of the members; however, they all kept their values. Compared to big companies and government agencies, their effective decisions, quick mobility, and acceptance of new incomers is outstanding. However, among those people I was able to be an independent writer, reporting my observations directly in my own words.
The day before yesterday, a miracle happened during my farewell party at the bar “Chika” located in Tono. There was an article from a newspaper dated November 1995 in a frame hanging on the wall. The article was about famous athlete brothers from Tono: Shinkichi Kikuchi and Toshimi Kikuchi (both of which were on the Verdy Kawasaki team at the time). The brothers had won the Japanese soccer league together, and next to the article was their uniform. I came to realize that the article was my article from when I was a soccer reporter. “This is a miracle, isn’t it?” The bar-owner said it was the only article he displayed in his bar. With a request from the bar-owner, I signed the back of the frame. I was surprised to find my article in a bar far north from where I live because I thought there was no connection. I felt a lump in my throat for the exciting coincidence that happened at the end of my stay in Tono. Humanity is good, isn’t it? Through an article people who did not know each other were able to join together, understand each other, and help each other.
Why don’t you write an article for Tono Magokoro Net?
Kenji Ooishi ( 7/2/1965): he was born in Shizuoka and worked for the “1st Ship for World Youth” as a Japanese-Spanish translator while getting his education at Waseda University. He later joined a sports newspaper where he worked as a publisher, reporting on the “Doha Tragedy” as well as many other soccer events. He worked for the Shizuoka branch since 2008 after experienced martial arts and golf reporting. He has a wife with two boys and a dog.