Ryori Village Coming Back!

2 comments Written on April 2nd, 2013     
Filed under: earthquake, missions
I’m back in Japan after spending six months in the U.S. visiting supporting churches. Other than being separated from the rest of the family for a couple months, it feels good to be back in Japan. After spending six months in the U.S. talking about the 3.11 disaster and having so many folks admit that they had almost completely forgotten about it, I am back here where we hear something about post-disaster Tohoku in every single news report. Fortunately most of it is good news about the recovery efforts, and yesterday was no exception. April 1st is a big day in Japan. It’s the beginning of a new fiscal year and a new school year.

One of the news reports that particularly made me smile was about the April 1st entrance ceremonies at Ryori Elementary School. Ryori is a small fishing village on the outskirts of Ofunato, in Iwate Prefecture. I visited Ryori in February of 2012 and was deeply moved by the village folk who responded to a musical performance of a professional singer by singing their own song for her. Those people had all lost their homes and were living in government supplied temporary housing, but they had the good fortune of still being surrounded by friends and family, unlike so many victims who were moved into temporary housing that was far from home and populated by people they didn’t know. In Ryori community is still intact as almost all of the displaced were moved into the same cluster of temporary housing in the playground of the local Jr. High School. Their ability to sing the same songs served as proof that community was still intact. Here is a link to the video of that moment.

The last two engagements I had in Colorado before returning to Tokyo were at the University of Colorado, Boulder and Colorado College. In both instances I talked about the effects of broken community, and the ways in which we have tried to help Tohoku victims rebuild some sense of community. I shared the story of these people in Ryori as an example of community that was still intact. But I was asked a question about the young people of this town because all the people in the video are senior citizens. And that’s why I was so happy to hear the report in yesterday’s news about Ryori Elementary school. Unlike the Junior High School that sits on higher ground, the elementary school was heavily damaged by the tsunamis of 3.11 and it took several months for repairs to be completed. But finally in April of 2012 and then again yesterday they were able to hold entrance ceremonies. And these are no ordinary entrance ceremonies. In the town of Ryori the 6 year old kids celebrating their entrance into elementary school always do so in traditional Japanese dress. This year there were 17 new first graders, the girls wearing bright colors and the boys in the ever so cool black and gray haori and hakama. In a town that has been battered and beaten this was just one more sign that they are going to be O.K. Take a look at these proud little first graders in this news video.

In the NSKK (Japan Covenant Church) we have started the new year by recommitting ourselves to the ongoing Christ-centered work of mercy, compassion and justice in the ravaged disaster zones of Tohoku. Please remember the people of Tohoku in your prayers and join us in giving thanks to God for the signs of recovery and new beginnings.

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2 comments “Ryori Village Coming Back!”

thanks for sharing. love and praying.

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Jim, first video of village singing works but second of kids says “private” so wint show.
Praying for all!

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