Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Posters convey victims' hopeful messages"

Image borrowed from "A Beacon of Rebirth Poster Project."

From The Daily Yomiuri Online, June 14, 2011:

Posters that feature devastated residents of Kamaishi and Otsuchicho in Iwate Prefecture and carry messages of hope, inspiration and determination to recover have attracted people's attention.

The posters, produced by a 32-year-old advertising company employee in Morioka and others, have drawn reaction from overseas after they were introduced via the Internet.

On a visit to Kamaishi at the end of March, the 32-year-old man was moved by his encounters with people who had not abandoned their hope for the future even after losing everything. He decided to start the "'A Beacon of Rebirth' Poster Project" to inform people in other parts of Iwate Prefecture of their positive attitudes.

He asked his cameraman friend to take photos of the devastated people in Kamaishi and Otsuchicho against a background of debris. Based on interviews with the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the man and his company colleague came up with slogans and included messages from victims to accompany the photos.

At first, the posters were displayed only at izakaya pubs and other locations in the prefecture. However, when the friend publicized the project on his Twitter account, messages from Internet users flooded in, including many from those who said they were moved by the project.

The man and his friend started a Web site at once and began to sell posters featuring the people of Kamaishi in sets of 13 at a price of 3,675 yen. They received more than 500 orders for the B-3 size posters by e-mail not only from within Japan, but also from overseas, including China and the United States.

The pair have also decided to translate the messages into English by August and sell the posters overseas. All of the profits will be donated to disaster relief funds.

Takeichi Kimigahora, 33, who works for a marine products company in Kamaishi and aims to revive scallop fishing in the coastal Sanriku district in the prefecture, appears in a poster with his message of hope: "Don't give up! My scallops call out to me."

Kimigahora said, "I want to promote scallops in Sanriku for people I knew in the fishing industry who were killed in the disaster."

The message carried with a photo of Ryoichi Sasaki, 44, who clears rubble for a building maintenance company in Kamaishi, says, "Making memories, even out of mud and dust."

"All I wanna do is play ball, please...god." This message comes from Yuta Furusaki, 14, a third-year student at Kamaishi Higashi Middle School. He lost his baseball glove in the tsunami, then later received one as a donation. "My school was destroyed, but I'm glad if my message conveyed to people overseas how much I enjoy playing baseball," he said.

The posters can be found on the Web at:


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