Ishinomaki- Week 5 (Zak)

January 16

On this day I decided to visit NEWSee, a museum that holds over 100 years of news, data and history of Ishinomaki City. It was established by the Ishinomaki Hibi newspaper company in the winter of 2011. Shortly after I started looking around inside, the director of the museum, who is originally a reporter, had just returned. Apparently he was out interviewing some local people. He guided me through most of the 2011 disaster displays, then we sat down for a little chat which escalated into a 2 hour discussion of various topics and lunch.

When the tsunami hit the city on that day in March of 2011, the director and other employees where on the second floor office of their workplace. For three minutes he said. The whole building continued to shake violently. He recalled that one of his young coworkers said—will the shaking ever end?

After the tsunami, the flood had submerged their newspaper printing machines rendering them unusable. However, they found that some of the printing paper had remained unaffected, and soon they found some markers. We do not have electricity or our computers, but we have paper and something to write with—we can do our jobs they said. Immediately from the next day of the disaster they collected information of current situations and posted them for the public to read. In the picture above, the big papers you see hanged on the walls are the hand-written Ishinomaki Hibi newspapers. They continued for a week, so if you read them you’ll get a grasp of how it was like immediately after the disaster.

In one of our discussions the director described to me how the street I came by, had many bodies lying lifeless. And how he felt that he may have wandered onto the border of this world and the next. This sent chills down my body as I imagined how the pretty street that I now walk by everyday was such a scene.


Eventually we both got hungry and decided to go for lunch. We went to a nearby soba place and this curry soba was simple, had good volume and just delicious! It could actually become a craving for me.

January 17

Managed to get a ride to go to Onagawa City. The same guy I met before at the COMMON-Ship Meeting who took me to Ayukawahama agreed to drive me there. From hereon I shall refer to him as SR. Unfortunately on this day that our schedules met, it just happens to be cold and raining.

Before going to Onagawa City we had one stop to make, SR said that he had a curry delivery to make. Now SR has this crazy interest in spices and Indian curry. And he is planning on opening an Indian curry shop at the soon be made COMMON-Ship market. That’s why SR has been roaming around town recently delivering curry to people and have them taste test.

SR is currently heating up the curry and plating it for the soon to arrive guests. I was helping him by keeping a lookout haha. I had the chance to try his curry too, and it’s actually delicious. Not the Japanese curry but real Indian curry with plenty of spice. It legitimately tasted like Indian curry for me, all that was missing was the mango lassi. His chai was also delicious too.

After the curry delivery and a 30 minute drive we got to Onagawa City, Onagawa station.

Onagawa City is a small city that’s nestled in between Ishinomaki and the Pacific Ocean. I had learned before that it’s one of the most damaged locations by the 3.11 tsunami. And in proportion to its population, it suffered the most human casualties. Despite the huge disaster that hit the city, the reconstruction effort of the city is considered to be one of the fastest. Onagawa station and the surrounding area had been beautifully reconstructed and, opened services in March of 2015.

The new station even has a hot spring inside. It’s the only train station I know that has a hot spring inside.


(I didn’t actually take a lot of photos this day and these ones are from a different timing hence the clear skies)

Found this cool little co-working space near the station with all the basic needs to setup base and function in this digital age.

We then went to this small community house/ cafe next to the community hospital which is not too far from the station. I believe the place is owned and managed separately from the hospital. While enjoying a hot drink we had a little chat with the owner lady. As we talked she told us a different story of the reconstruction of the city. She said, the reconstruction of the city is just starting, it’s nowhere near what the media says. Although the new station and the nearby marketplace is new and fancy, it’s not much useful for the locals. It’s not a place to go for grocery shopping nor for daily necessities. It’s for tourists. This was a bit of a shocker because when I thought about it, it was true. I learned that they have to go quite a distance to do normal shopping and, that it was hard on the old people which represent more than half of the cities population. It seems that the city officials didn’t put priority on their citizens livelihood. Although I do understand that being an attractive city for tourists and having them come over will help in the long run—true restoration for the locals seem to be just starting.

January 19

I wanted to visit this library/cafe called Hyappyokan but it was a little out of my mamachari (mommy bicycle) range. Fortunately the people from Ishinomaki 2.0 borrowed me this cool mountain bike, I just needed to pump up the air more.


And my ride is ready. With this baby a 15km ride will be a piece of chocolate cake. Hope you enjoy the ride in pictures

I have no idea what the white stuff is but it has the road management office phone number written on it.


These are the temporary housing settlements for the people who have lost their homes in the great east Japan earthquake. Like this there are still many people who have not found permanent homes yet.


Winter just takes all the color out of things. I feel now that winter is not an enjoyable season without the snow.


And finally I arrive at Hyappyokan after an hour of cycling. Because of the mountain bike it wasn’t such a bad ride, it would’ve been tough with a normal mamachari. Although, I would’ve liked a softer seat.

That chair next to the fireplace was so comfortable and warm, just sitting there for a while I felt rejuvenated.


Hyappyokan is a library cafe that has numerous kinds of books and magazines all free for reading and borrowing. You can borrow a maximum of 5 books for 2 weeks and all you need is write your name, phone number and address. Most of what they serve here are made from seasonal local produce, or in someway collaborated with local shops. I feel that this type of mutually beneficial relationship exists a lot in regional areas. The place is also open for holding events, seminars and shows. I like this trend of modern functional cafes opening in regional areas each with a certain quirk. I see that cafes(could be diners too) are a good method for creating and nurturing a local community. But I do wonder how they perform as  a business.