Ishinomaki- Week 1 (Zak)

Hello! This is Sosei Partners reporting to you from Ishinomaki City, Miyagi prefecture. My name is Zak and I’m a part of the Sosei Partners regional in-residence program. I will be living in Ishinomaki City for a little more than a month from Dec 18th 2017 to January 28th 2018. Mainly I’ll be researching the city while working together with local organizations and traveling around the city as much as possible.

This is a quick summary of my first week here. (12/18-12/24)

After a 5 hour trip on the night bus from Tokyo to Sendai station and then an hour train ride from Sendai, I finally arrived at Ishinomaki City in Miyagi prefecture on the 18th. Then met up with members of Ishinomaki 2.0 with whom I will be working together for the next month.

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Immediately I went on my first little journey with the members to Hama-guri-hama, one of the many coasts of the Oshika peninsula. Located at Hamagurihama is a cafe called Hamaguridou, which has been very popular within the cafe lovers of Japan. We did a short interview of the owner—Kameyama-san—and took some pictures for a magazine that Ishinomaki 2.0 is making about local ventures and entrepreneurs.

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Kameyama-san is going to be featured as a local entrepreneur on the magazine. With the success of the cafe Kameyama-san is developing plans for his next move which is to create an open self sustainable community within Hamagurihama. Additionally he wants the place to be a kind of school where people from all over the country can come and learn about living with nature and then make use of that knowledge somewhere else.

His ultimate goal is to keep the vitality of Hamagurihama and prevent it from being forgotten. His ambitions though show that he will not stop there.

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Dec 22nd; Visit to local venture Soushinsha.

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On the 22nd with Ishinomaki 2.0 members we went to another local company called Soushinsha which specializes in making tatami. It was a small company with only the president and 4-5 tatami craftsmen. But—Takahashi-san—the president of the company was very open minded leader and was actively thinking of ways to adapt to the modern era. Their XT series of tatamis were the prime example of how a traditional crafts could adapt and find a place in modern society.

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This is called the Boronoi tatami one of the XT series. To our amazement they can make multi-sided polygonal tatami’s with their special deformation technology. They said that these tatami’s were being used as a sort of rug by some people in modern home floorings. Takahashi-san mentioned that he wanted to create an environment that craftsman can thrive. I thought this was one of the most important factors in preserving traditional crafts. As craftsmen themselves are not essentially businessmen and may not know how to utilize their skills for today. People like Takahashi-san who understand the craft, not a craftsmen himself, and has a business mind are just as valuable as the craftsmen. Takahashi-san added that he’s not purely interested in profit making, rather he wants to preserve the craft and help in maintaining the local economy.

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Dec 23rd; Yumemiru Fashion show.

Was a nice warm Saturday. After enjoying breakfast together with the people in my sharehouse went to watch a fashion show. Yumemiru fashion show is a local event that’s created and operated by the local highschool girls. The girls gathering from various grades and schools wanted to make something that you can only see and experience in Ishinomaki. Without having any special training in designing and creating clothes, they wanted to make dresses that are unique to Ishinomaki with the hopes of casting a magical spell to make the city brighter and full of smiles.

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Dec 24th; Shopping

Today didn’t have any special events but got a chance to go to the local shopping center with a friend from the sharehouse who by the way has a car. Living in the regional areas can be really inconvenient if you don’t have a car. Trains and busses are limited unlike big cities. Bought bags of vegetables and 5kg of rice to survive the remaining days. I heard that most of the people living around Ishinomaki station goes to this shopping center for most of their needs. There’s a big grocery shop, home center, drugstore, cafe and a Tsutaya. Plus there’s a Geo and a really big 100 yen shop nearby. So it's the go to place if you happen to move here.

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