The Niranohama Lion Dance is appointed as one of the village's cultural assets. During the early Showa period (mid-twentieth century), an old man paid a visit to Atago Shrine on one of the village hills. Soon after, he felt a strange presence and saw a shining-eyed lion. Though he was very surprised, he went up close to have a look at it. It turned out to be the hunched up root of an old pine tree. He took it home and made a lion’s head from it. Since then, the people in Niranohama have been performing the lion dance at shrine festivals as an offering to exorcize spirits, and to pray for their families’ safety and good harvests.
There used to be about 70 households in Niranohama, yet half of them were wiped out on March 11. Villagers have been evacuating to still-existing homes. At the moment, nine villagers are staying at the local leader’s house.
Since they hadn’t received enough support from the government or private groups, they were extremely happy to see us coming to visit them. Relief goods are in short supply, in particular there is a great lack of basic daily goods. Electricity is not yet available, so they’re in need of lanterns with solar panels. Deliveries of relief supplies have not yet reached the village and there is no gasoline, so they are unable to use surviving vehicles to drive elsewhere to find them. They desperately need these basic relief goods.
One of the three Team 5 Mission groups, comprised of five members, visited Funakoshi village in Ogatsu Peninsula. We went there to meet a villager we had met on the previous visit but couldn’t find the person. We should have asked for contact details at the time.
After that, we headed to Naburi village which we had been unable to visit the last time as there had been no way in then. When we got there, some local men were doing restoration work in the port. We went towards the upper elevations of the village so as not to disturb their work. Then, we met an old man named Mr. Shimizu who was taking a walk with his grandchild. He told us some stories.
The village is now trying to consolidate sea routes but almost all the boats were wiped out by tsunami waves. He was evacuated to the Osu Primary School and had just come back to his own house to clean it when we saw him. There’s no electricity supply yet so he can’t live in his own house. He loves fishing and had been enjoying abalone fishing in his retirement when the disaster struck.
If he moves out of the village he’ll lose his fishing license for the area, so he had hoped he could continue to live in Niranohama. However, he has decided to move to Yamagata Prefecture on May 13. When the earthquake occurred, he was driving so he was able to survive. Soon after, the roads were cut off and he had to walk home. He finally got there two days after the earthquake.
His family had been really worried about him for those two days, and so were surprised to see him when he came home. We gave him some rice wine (sake) and some Kyoto sweets for his grandchild.
After saying goodbye to Shimizu-san, we visited Sato-san in Niranohama whom we had met last time. The electricity had returned to some homes, but not all. Though random goods are now arriving daily, the water supply still hasn’t come through.
Donated Relief Goods, Sato-san’s house
There is an active volunteer group coming here who provide baths. This happens every three days and usually about 40 villagers come to bathe. Onodera-san, who had been staying with Sato-san last time we visited them, was no longer there. We were told that he had moved out after getting an electric generator. We asked Sato-san if there were enough basic supplies and goods. He said he’d been receiving enough goods to survive. It was impressive to hear him repeatedly praising “the spirit of mutual cooperation. ”
While supporting the immediate relief-supply needs of small communities affected by the triple disaster on 11 March, 2011, Team Sake is actively building up relationships and creating networks. In the process, as we see the vision of the future drawn from the villagers' hopes and ideas, we send it throughout the world on the internet, recruiting further assistance, to help bring these visions closer to realization. Providing such things as personnel (volunteer manpower), commodities, technical skills, and information, many people coming from across the nation, and indeed the globe, are able to use this website to assist survivors in whichever ways they themselves choose. This process in itself is considered to be the most encouraging and sustainable way of offering both short-term and long-term support for the villagers.