Entertainers Nekohachi and Koneko EDOYA Visit the Disaster Zone

The Oshika Peninsula Rings with Animal Sounds and Children’s Laughter

On April 27th, AAR JAPAN visited an elementary school and evacuation center in Miyagi Prefecture’s Oshika Peninsula. We were accompanied by Ms. Natsuko HAGIWARA, Rikkyo University professor and managing director of the Japan NPO Center, and entertainers Mr. Nekohachi EDOYA IV and Mr. Koneko EDOYA II.

Our first event was at Higashihama Elementary School in Ishinomaki City, where classes resumed this week. 26 students and nearby evacuees gathered for the event.

Beginning with the cry of a Japanese bush-warbler, “Hō-hokekyo!”, the entertainers brought smiles to the children’s faces with imitations of various animals, including dogs, horses, zebras, suzumushi and matsumushi crickets, rhinoceroses, frogs, and more. The children laughed uproariously while practicing a frog’s croak with all their might. The finale, a chorus of animal and insect sounds arranged to the tune of the song “Furusato” (“Hometown”), filled the evacuation center with a feeling of warmth, and even brought smiles to the faces of the grandparents sitting at the back.

April 27th – Mr. Nekohachi EDOYA (left) and Mr. Koneko EDOYA (right) imitate a Japanese bush-warbler’s cry. (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)

“It’s the First Time I’ve Seen Children with Such Bright Smiles since the Earthquake.”

After the event, the children told us enthusiastically, “It was great!” and “Now I can make a sound like a rhinoceros!”

The school principal, Mr. TSUNODA, said “It’s the first time I’ve seen children with such bright smiles since the earthquake… There is nothing that encourages us like the voices, songs, smiles and cheers of children.”

I could only hope that the Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture, the Tohoku area, and all of Japan will be filled with such smiles as soon as possible.

Driving along the seaside mountain road on our way back, we heard the distant bush-warbler’s cry, “Hō-hokekyo!” I guess the bush-warblers of the Oshika Peninsula welcomed the entertainers, too.

April 27th – Asked, “Does anyone know the Japanese bush-warbler?” children cheerfully raise their hands. (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)

April 27th – Firmly gripping Mr. Nekohachi EDOYA’s hand (right), an evacuee declares, “I’ve been your fan for a long time!” (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)

April 27th – At a meeting before the event, Principal TSUNODA (center) said, “Some students still have dulled expressions for fear of aftershocks, but by playing with friends they are gradually getting better.” Sitting at the right is Ms. Sayako NOGIWA of AAR JAPAN. (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture)

Sayako NOGIWA (Tohoku Office Head)
AAR JAPAN Senior Program Coordinator
Largely responsible for AAR JAPAN's projects in Myanmar and other parts of Asia.
Involved in a number of emergency relief operations in the past, including the Myanmar Cyclone in 2008, the Sumatra Earthquake in 2009, and the Pakistan Flood in 2010. 
(34 years old, born in Tokyo.)