Inspiring Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Tohoku
July 10, 2013
MAKOTO is a leader in the movement to promote entrepreneurship in the Tohoku region, and in a broader sense, Japan.
By creating opportunities in which innovation, collaboration, and openness are promoted, MAKOTO hosts well designed events to connect motivated entrepreneurs with one another and with potential investors who together spark business and employment within the disaster area.
Based in Sendai, MAKOTO’s cocolin, the largest co-working space in Tohoku, is a hub for like-minded, motivated entrepreneurs who seek to improve the world around them. Japan Society is excited to support cocolin and its activities.
Founded by a group of Young Global Leaders selected by the World Economic Forum, BEYOND Tomorrow helps youth affected by the 3.11 disaster pursue their dreams and become active global citizens through scholarships and leadership development programs. BEYOND Tomorrow programs enable the students to connect with people across the world and lay the groundwork for them to be active global citizens. The Japan Earthquake Relief Fund provides general support to the organization and full support for the Tohoku Future Leaders Summit, which will take place again in October 2013.
The Great East Japan Earthquake Restoration Fund (GBFund), set up by the Association for Corporate Support of the Arts (Kigyo Mécénat Kyogikai), supports communities affected by the disaster through arts and culture. As relief efforts transition to focus more on sustainable recovery and rebuilding communities, culture proves to be increasingly important in the lives of people. Through the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, we support GBFund’s Hundred Festivals Revival Project, which helps rebuild and bring communities together by revitalizing traditional local festivals and folk performance in Tohoku.
Repair of the mikoshi (portable shrine) for the grand festival of Amaterasu-mioya Shrine project.
Project for the Revival of Namie-machi Toukaichi Festival and Passing on of Traditional Cultures (November 24, 2012)
Project for the restoration of Motoyoshi Houin Kagura (September 14, 2012)
Through its Fellowship Program, Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Communities, or ETIC, supports disaster recovery efforts from a much needed, innovative angle: matching young, motivated, and knowledgeable professionals with businesses and organizations in Tohoku.
This program has supported 144 Fellows in 54 projects and has made possible initiatives such as the revitalization of “Kesen morning market”, a 300-year-old historical, local gathering place in Rikuzentakata city, Iwate.
Projects such as the “Rikuzentakata Shopping Street Project,” pictured above, help restore traditional and communal locations, strengthening and rebuilding communities that have suffered from damage caused by the disaster.
“Iwaki Organic Cotton Project” is another example of an initiative that helps foster a sense of community through redeveloping deserted, arable land in order to cultivate organic cotton. The project also seeks to improve communication among refugees and local residents, easing any friction between the two groups.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake, large areas of farmland and previously arable land were laid to waste; fear of radiation and contaminants deter consumers from purchasing goods with the label Fukushima; and many had lost faith in moving forward. These are only a few of the daunting challenges that the Fukushima Organic Agriculture Network faced in the wake of the devastating, natural disaster. However, FOAN (short for Fukushima Organic Agriculture Network) continuously finds innovative ways to intrepidly rise to these adversities.
We were delighted to learn that two of the organizations that we support, Sweet Treat 311 and Beyond Tomorrow, collaborated on an exchange program last winter. Beyond Tomorrow in Tokyo, which focuses on leadership development for children affected by the disaster, brought a group of high school students from Boston to Ishinomaki. Sweet Treat 311, which provides educational assistance though creative after-school programs for children in Ishinomaki area, arranged a program for them to learn about the local fishing industry and the recovery process from the disaster. Here are some photos from the program:
Japan Earthquake Relief Fund supported the construction of Boppora Shokudo, a food shop in Ayukawahama, Ishinomaki through Tumugiya. The shop is run by a group of local fishermen’s wives, who calls themselves the “Mermamaids” as they are mothers working by the sea.
The food shop opened at the end of July 2012 and now sells 1000 bento boxes a month, They started to make profits by October last year and hire 6 Mermamaids. We heard that their bento boxes are delicious using fresh local seafood.
Here are the Mermamaids. (Photo above: courtesy of Junichi Takahashi)
Last fall, Gambatte 365 and TechnoKids Japan offered a course to teach PC skills to children in Shiogama, Miyagi. You can tell from the video that the children also learned words in English. Nearly 70 students between the ages of 4-8 participated in the course and Gambatte 365 will continue their activities in Tohoku this year.
34 cast members from the Young Americans, an American non-profit group, are currently touring Tohoku and conducting musical workshops for students at public schools. Here are several snap shots from the workshops.
Ashinaga, a Japanese organization that supports children who have lost one or both parents since its founding in 1969, has been active in Tohoku since the 3.11 disaster.The Japan Earthquake Relief Fund helps to fund Ashinaga’s psychological and emotional support programs for children and their families.
The key message Ashinaga staff delivers to the children and families they support is “you are not alone.” Programs aim to help children—accompanied by trained staff and volunteers—feel and release their emotions through a variety of activities that include playing games and drawing.
At a recent program in the coastal town of Kamaishi, one parent said “I am so grateful. Along with my children, I, too, was able to talk about my grief with other guardians. Although my oldest daughter is quite shy, I hope she will come out of her shell one day.”