Japan: Supporting a Handcraft Class where People can Shape “What they Want to Do”

A Handcraft Class was Held in a Temporary Housing Complex in Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture

On February 5th, 2012, a handcraft class was held at Uchihibiki temporary housing complex in Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture, where participants created dolls of dragons and jizo (stone statues) with old pieces of fabric. What initiated the idea were the suspended Hina dolls that were displayed inside a meeting room, which had been made by Ms. Kuniko NINOMIYA, a resident of the temporary housing complex. Some of the residents there had wanted Ms. NINOMIYA to teach them how to make dolls so that they can sell them and gain some sort of income, but they had not been able to do so because they had no access to necessary materials. However, a businessperson who happened to visit the facility with AAR Japan staff members proposed to support their sales idea, which prompted AAR Japan to provide materials such as scissors and old pieces of fabric that had been donated by our supporters. This led to the realization of the first handcraft class.

February 5th, 2012 – The suspended Hina dolls made by Ms. NINOMIYA. The variety of decorations such as goldfish and flowers look gorgeous. (Uchihibiki temporary housing, Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture)

On the day of the event, Ms. NINOMIYA served as the instructor and approximately 30 people participated in the class. She was fully occupied going up and down the small room, answering questions raised by the participants. Worried that she was worn out, an AAR Japan staff asked how she was doing, but she happily replied, “I’ve been spending everyday with nothing to do. I’m thrilled to finally able to do something that I’ve been wanting to for a long time.”

February 5th, 2012 – People who took part in the doll-making. Pictured in the back row, third from the left is Ms. Kuniko NINOMIYA, who served as the teacher. (Pictured on the far right in the front row is Yumi KUSAKA of AAR Japan Sendai Office)

An Opportunity to Interact with Residents of Temporary Housing Complexes in Other Areas

It is Ms. Kimie KATAOKA, the director of Naruse Support Center of the social welfare council of Higashi-Matsushima City, who supports the residents of Uchihibiki temporary housing complex. Ms. Hisae YAMASHITA, a representative of Kitakami-Tonbodama Club, had stood by Kitakami temporary housing complex in Ishinomaki City ever since the earthquake. AAR Japan received her concern that although she had wanted the residents in the Kitakami temporary housing complex to participate in doll-making, unfortunately, they had no instructor to teach them. It takes approximately an hour to get from one housing to the other, which isn't too close. When we asked her about possibly holding a joint handcraft class, she willingly replied, “There had not been interaction between the temporary housing complexes, so this sounds like a brilliant idea!” Under such cooperation, a class to make suspended Hina dolls was successfully held on March 8th. The goal of this event was for each participant to complete a Daruma doll that will be used as decoration for the suspended Hina dolls.
On the day of the event, the residents of the Uchihibiki temporary housing complex, led by Ms. NINOMIYA, had cut pieces of fabric, prepared patterns for the dolls, and made instructions beforehand, so each person succeeded in completing at least one Daruma doll, and some as many as three. In addition, the residents of the two housing complexes exchanged information on what kind of handcraft they make at their respective facilities, as those from the Kitakami temporary housing complex exhibited their decorations made of origami and friendship bracelets.

March 8th, 2012 – Ms. NINOMIYA (left) making Daruma dolls along with residents of the Kitakami temporary housing complex in Ishinomaki City. (Uchihibiki temporary housing, Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture)

The handmade friendship bracelets with Tonbodama, created at the Kitakami temporary housing complex.

Residents of both housing complexes seemed to have spent plenty of quality time together, having been able to interact with people from other areas. The relation is expected to deepen much more in the future. For example, one resident of Higashi-Matsushima saw the friendship bracelet of a resident of Kitakami and said, “I would love to make one of those too” which brought about a warm reply, “I hope you will spare the time to come to our housing complex!”

Furthermore, conversation like the following was also heard: as one resident said, “As for me, my house and everything I owned were swept away by the tsunami. How about you?” “Likewise, but aren't we lucky to have survived?” I believe that since they are disaster victims themselves, they were able to share their sentiments and have a deeper sense of empathy towards each other.
Many living in temporary housing had lost their families and friends in the earthquake. In order to alleviate their desolation and create an opportunity where they can interact, AAR Japan will continue to strive to support those affected by the disaster to fulfilling “what they want to do”.

March 8th, 2012 – Handcrafts that the residents of the Uchihibiki temporary housing complex made.  (Uchihibiki temporary housing complex, Higashi-Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture)

March 8th, 2012 – During lunchtime, people took a break and ate dishes that were warm-heartedly prepared by the residents of the Uchihibiki temporary housing complex.

March 8th, 2012 – Ms. NINOMIYA, who served as the instructor, is pictured in front of the suspended Hina dolls that she made herself. (Photo credit: GlobalGiving)

Shot and edited by Global Giving

Yumi KUSAKA, AAR Japan Sendai Office
She has worked at the Sendai Office since September 2011. After graduating from university, she worked for private companies but later made a transition to AAR JAPAN, seeking s job that directly deals with people. (from Miyagi Prefecture)