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宮城県石巻市 Caroline様

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Caroline様HP からの抜粋

・・・By this time I had such a clear picture of what the bus stop could look like, and had contacted Tsukasa at Kigumi, a small architecture and construction company, and told him of my plans.

As is often the case on Oshika, and even more so during this recent trip, the right things and people often seemed to present themselves to me — things just have a habit of falling into place. I had heard of Kigumi when visiting the home of Stephen Bird, just a few days before going to Oshika. Stephen asked me to give a talk at Meikei High School in Tsukuba and then to join his family for dinner in their home. As soon as I walked into his beautiful wood home I was completely overwhelmed — I had seen the inside of this home in my mind before. I’ve been talking to Kucho-san about a big project on Oshika for the past 15 months, and the inside of Stephen’s home is exactly what that project looks like in my head. It was such an incredible coincidence. I asked for an introduction to the company that made it and Tsukasa and I exchanged a few brief emails, really just saying hello rather than talking about anything specific. The big project won’t happen for a long time yet — I just wanted to touch base at that point.

So when the bus stop idea came along I immediately thought of Tsukasa, and asked him what he’d be able to do with a budget of ¥150,000. His English was great on email so I tried calling him to discuss ideas, but we were completely unable to communicate on the phone. Tsukasa was later to tell people that he never really understood who I was, what I was doing, or what I really wanted from him, but he was overcome with a sense that he simply had to do it — he still says that he can’t explain the feeling that he had but he was so compelled that he just had to get to Oshika and make this bus stop. We instantly connected as soon as we met in person, and greeted each other with a huge hug like we were long-lost friends.

Tsukasa designed it using remnants of materials used in other projects, which is why he was able to keep the costs so low. During the planning stages it became apparent that the previous location of the bus stop would be problematic — the land belongs to the local government and it would take about a month to get permission from them, and even then there was no guarantee that they would give permission. The money was there, the architect had been found, the materials had been sourced — I didn’t want anyone on Ohara to have to wait one more day without a bus stop. But we didn’t have the land.

Until Kucho-san suggested that we put it on the opposite side of the road, on land belonging to Takahashi-san, who, along with his wife, used to run a shop that made the most delicious ramen ever, according to everyone on the peninsula. Takahashi-san and his wife were together every day, all day, working together and living together until their late seventies. On the day of the earthquake, the Takahashis were in their ramen shop, right here on the land that we were considering for the bus stop. Mr Takahashi went up to the second floor as the tsunami headed toward the town. His wife rushed downstairs to get something, despite her husband’s protests. She didn’t make it, and her body was found a few days later.

Ever since then, Takahashi-san spends each day walking all around the town. His daughter, Miyoko, who lives several hours’ away, calls him every day at 10am, checking whether he is eating properly and to see how he is feeling. She says she still cries for her mother, every single day.

Takahashi-san’s friend put up a small storage building for him, into which Takahashi-san has put any belongings he could retrieve from the debris. I had seen this building before and it always bothered me somehow — it looked and felt sad but I didn’t know why. When I realized it belonged to Takahashi-san and found out what had happened on this very spot, I understood why the building was so sad. As we stood next to it, talking about the bus stop, I asked if he would like me to cheer up his building for him with some paint. He said he would like that, so I asked what colours he would like me to use — he said he’d like it to match the bus stop and told me to go ahead and do whatever I wanted.

I don’t think he quite expected me to do what I did! With the help of a few random individuals that got roped in, I painted the entire building bright blue, and covered it in red and white hearts. He loves it.

Next, it was time to tackle the bus stop itself — Tsukasa and an associate drove all the way from Saitama, to spend one day laying the concrete foundations, locally sourced, and then drove all the way back again. He returned a few days later with his small team, Suzuki-san and Furutani-san, along with Akane, his friend’s daughter who had recently returned from overseas, and was coming to help with the wakame as well as hopefully find a little inspiration as to the next stage of her life.

We started work the next day, as a typhoon descended upon the peninsula. We worked under a tarpaulin that we attached to Takahashi-san’s building and the crane that Tsukasa brought with him. They told me they had never worked in such conditions, and I can definitely say that I never have. Despite the tarpaulin and my “waterproof” puffy jacket I was soaked to the skin by 11:30am and worked another five hours in it — looking back I am proud of being able to stick to the “no whinge” policy I live by on Oshika and more than a little amazed that I managed to do so. The following day was the same. Tsukasa and his team worked so incredibly hard — taking very short breaks and lunches, and working until it was too dark to work anymore. They share my work ethic, which I am sorry to say I have found sadly lacking in many “volunteers” I’ve met. I was so impressed with them and it was such an honour to spend time with them. I feel so lucky to have met them.

On one of the construction days, Stephen Bird, who had introduced me to Tsukasa, brought his family up to Oshika. There was quite an amusing moment when Stephen ran off in the pouring rain to get coffees from a vending machine for us all, to Kucho-san’s horror: “Is the guest going to get the coffee?!” to which Stephen’s wife replied that they weren’t guests, but friends. I enjoyed explaining to Kucho-san how we were all the kind of people who appreciate being allowed to feel at home, and going to grab coffees for everyone felt like you were immediately welcomed. After explaining this little cultural difference, I worked with Stephen’s son on the wall insulation, and the others went over to Kobuchi to help the Sasakis with wakame.

Every day, whether I was painting hearts on the building, or working on the bus stop, Takahashi-san insisted on joining us, even if it was just to hang around. I was happy that he wasn’t wandering about the town deep in his own thoughts, and that we were giving him things to laugh and smile about. I started sending Facebook messages to Miyoko, telling her how her Dad was doing each day, and telling her not to worry — and when the weather was really awful I would threaten him with calling Miyoko to tell her that he wasn’t staying at home in the warm and dry. There was a lot of laughter throughout the construction.

Finally the rain stopped and Tsukasa and his team happily threw off the tarpaulin and got to work in the dry. We were getting short on time now, so I pulled Akane and Sophie (a British woman who had arrived a couple of weeks earlier to help the fishermen) away from the wakame and asked them to work on the bus stop. Kucho-san and I had to take a truck into the Sendai branch of IKEA.・・・